September is National Recovery Month in King County

Each September, we recognize and celebrate National Recovery Month. This year, the theme is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” Now in its 32nd year, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery and spreads a message of hope to individuals, families, and communities. It is also a moment to thank peers and behavioral health workers who make recovery possible for so many.  

National Recovery Month promotes and supports new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers, peers and community members who make recovery in all its forms possible. Recovery Month’s national observance spreads the message of hope that recovery is not only possible, it is likely, with the right supports in place.

At King County DCHS, the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD) oversees mental health, substance use disorder, and crisis services for low-income individuals across King County. BHRD is proud to celebrate particularly because all our work is rooted in the belief that everyone in our community is deserving—and capable—of recovery.

Nineteen cities in King County and the Metropolitan King County Council have issued proclamations that September is National Recovery Month to recognize everyone in recovery and to thank all those in the behavioral health field who support people in recovery.

Thank you to the cities of Kenmore, Covington, Newcastle, Mercer Island, North Bend, Des Moines, Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Redmond, Renton, Snoqualmie, SeaTac, Burien, Duvall, Issaquah, Shoreline, Woodinville, and Tukwila.

King County Council Recognizes September as National Recovery Month

On Tuesday, September 14, the Metropolitan King County Council proclaimed September to be National Recovery Month once again.  

We are thankful to councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who shared personal stories and insights with attendees about how recovery has affected them and their families, as well as those around them, as they were joined by their Council colleagues in recognizing National Recovery Month.

“This focus reminds everyone who is in recovery, and those who support them, that no one is alone in their journey through recovery. Everyone’s journey is different, but we are all in this together,” said Councilmember Dunn.

During the ceremony, Councilmember Dunn provided context around the increased need for awareness and de-stigmatization of recovery. During the pandemic, we have seen a surge in substance use disorder and mental health problems. Anxiety and depression are even more prevalent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics. As of February, 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a stark difference from 2019 when just 1 in 10 adults reported these symptoms.

In addition, the CDC just released their overdose statistics from 2020. Sadly, overdose deaths exploded to more than 90,000 nation-wide in 2020, with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl causing 60% of those overdose deaths. King County was no exception to that. We saw a 24% increase in drug and alcohol poisoning deaths last year, which pushed us to a new record high level of overdose deaths last year. Sadly, we’re on track to surpass that this year. The numbers are tragic, and they represent individuals and families who have been devastated by substance use and mental health problems.

“And in the face of this tragedy,” Councilmember Dunn continued, “It is more important than ever that we reaffirm that recovery is always possible for every single person, myself included, and that we as elected leaders are committed to continuing to work to expand access to treatment and recovery services.”

“Behavioral health is something that all of us are affected by,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, co-sponsor of the proclamation. “Certainly, my family and my husband’s family have been. All of us should have the opportunity to access services and support for our overall health and wellbeing, and proclamations like this one help to reaffirm our collective commitment to supporting the health and recovery of those in King County who need assistance and support.”

David Coffee, executive director of Recovery Café, accepted the proclamation as a member of the behavioral health provider community. Recovery Café is a pillar of the local recovery community, and the organization works to advance substance use recovery and mental wellness by changing public understanding of behavioral health conditions and advocating for policies that support recovery.

“For anyone out there who is struggling, or who has a loved one who is struggling, I want you to hear there is hope. The despair and helplessness you may be feeling can be addressed,” Coffee said. “I have the great gift of working with people every day who’ve been where you may be, and they are thriving today. Recovery can and does happen. In fact, it is the expected thing.”

BHRD Director Kelli Nomura accepted the proclamation on behalf of King County.  

“Thank you for acknowledging the power of recovery to change lives. It is so important that we share that recovery is real, that there is hope, and that all people—everyone in our community—is deserving of recovery,” Nomura said. “There are so many paths to recovery, but one thing I know we can all share in is the belief that treatment can work and recovery can happen, no matter where someone is starting out from.”

Join Us: Speak Out for Recovery 2021! Virtual Event on September 28th

You’re invited to join in to celebrate the truth that people can and do recovery. King County is a sponsor of the virtual event hosted by Recovery Café. Speakers from across the state nominated by their Recovery Coalition will share their Recovery Story, and various recovery resources will also be presented. King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn is one of the panelists, and he will be sharing his own recovery story.

Register for the virtual event here.

Thank You to the Recovery Community

We are thankful for our partners and the King County residents who are part of the recovery community, and we honor the journey of those in recovery. By sharing your voice, your insights, and your stories, you are reducing stigma around behavioral health that often discourages people from seeking help and getting better.

King County believes that by speaking openly and helping others learn about recovery we can end the stigma associated with substance use and mental illness. Each of us has the power to help each other. When more people learn about recovery and can see through a recovery lens, we can see that everyone has strengths and value in our community, and that there is a path forward—and you can see the world as a more hopeful place where things can and will change.

Originally published on September 22, 2021