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Finding 'new hope' during Recovery Month

September 15, 2011
by Allison Knopf
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Recovery Month is a time to reward clients, tell recovery stories, raise awareness

Treatment providers across the country are using the 20th annual Recovery Month to showcase what is the end result of treatment: recovery. While not everyone in long-term recovery went through treatment, for those clients in treatment now, as well as for those newly in recovery, September is a time to offer a reward for their hard work.

“We do this every year, because our clients are doing well and they feel really good about being pampered,” says Norma Quinones, a substance abuse counselor at the Imperial Valley Methadone Clinic in Calexico, Calif. The program, as well as its sister program in El Centro, is commemorating Recovery Month last week by inviting health agencies, including the county health department, local schools, and Planned Parenthood to provide information to clients. Last week’s event, which was attended by Imperial Valley Mayor Luis Castro, was organized by Quinones, who says clients got a lot of information from the agencies about health care and educational opportunities.

Inviting alumni who have been sober for many years is important for current clients and recent graduates, says Deni Carise, PhD, chief clinical officer of Phoenix House, where facilities around the country are having barbecues for clients and alumni. “It gives people in new recovery hope, to know that they can end up with cars and families and jobs and being happy,” she explains. “It’s also gratifying to counselors to see people who are in long-term recovery.”

Like the methadone clinic, Phoenix House does not invite the public to the recovery events for clients and alumnae—these programs are not about marketing, says Carise, noting that the privacy rights of people in treatment need to be respected. She would not, for example, invite the press to a bowling-pizza party for clients.

However, there are more and more people who are willing to share their experiences in recovery—which sometimes started with treatment, and sometimes took place outside of treatment—says Pat Taylor, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery “This is an important change. We have made tremendous strides in people not only willing but motivated to talk about their recovery,” she adds.

Other events:

  • Programs for the general public are a good way to raise awareness of the connections between treatment and recovery. CRC Health Group is having local events in more than 100 facilities on Sept. 23, with the central event at Twelve Oaks Treatment Center in Navarre, Florida. That event will include the public and the press, and CRC’s Barry McCaffrey will speak.

  • Recovery Month also includes advocacy for the rights of people with addiction and in recovery from addiction. There are multiple voter registration events sponsored by Faces and Voices of Recovery, says Taylor. Having legislators see the enthusiasm in the recovery movement is important as well. For example, Phoenix House clients are going to participate in the state house rally sponsored by the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction.

  • The addiction treatment field can also participate in Recovery Month by going to sponsored training programs, such as the one in Austin, Texas, where Phoenix House is hosting a symposium on addiction and pain management for addiction professionals on Sept. 16.

  • Some events go beyond the theme of recovery from addiction, to include mental health and development disabilities. This was the case in the Rhode Island Rally for Recovery, which was sponsored by more than 60 organizations under the umbrella of WaterFire Providence.

  • In New York, the Bronx Community Recovery Center will hold its second Bronx Recovery Rally on Sept. 17 (rain date Sept. 18), with food, music, entertainment, and the trophy ceremony for the center’s summer basketball league.

  • Phoenix House is co-hosting, along with The Fix, a twitter chat on what recovery means on Sept. 21 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (search for #drugchat, and include #drugchat in questions and responses – RSVP to

  • The national hub event is the Rally for Recovery, to take place in Philadelphia on Sept. 24. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who spoke eloquently about recovery at the kickoff luncheon in Washington this month, will be there.

For the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s home page on recovery month, go to

For more information, go to Alison Knopf is a freelance writer