by Sasha C. Russell, Communications Specialist, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling
September 2014 marks the 25th National Recovery Month. Organizations and governments across the United States are encouraged to endorse this month through proclamations, and recovery-focused events. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “In its 25th year, Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders. This year’s theme, ‘Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out,’ encourages people to openly speak up about mental and substance use disorders and the reality of recovery, and promotes ways individuals can use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.”
While there is no wrong pathway for recovery, it
can be challenging to reduce the stigma of gambling disorder, as well as other mental and substance use disorders, if no one is willing to speak up and reach out. We support SAMHSA in encouraging people in recovery for gambling disorder and their loved ones to share their stories so that we can all work together to break down the stigmas surrounding gambling addiction. However, it is very hard to get people to tell their stories, mostly due to fear, shame, or, in some cases, they’re worried about breaking the tradition of anonymity.
The Mass. Council believes in supporting people on their recovery journeys, and offers many ways for people to speak up and help the public have a better understanding of the personal and societal struggles caused by gambling disorder. These ways include:
- Wisdom Exchange – a collection of stories about problem gambling—stories of strength and triumph, stories that share experience, stories that remind us of what’s important and encourage us to persevere. If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Communications Specialist, Sasha C. Russell, at 857.383.3563.
- Your First Step to Change: A Gambling-Free Weekend Retreat – designed for people who are struggling with gambling problems and/or their family members. The next Weekend Retreat will be held in May 2015. If you are interested in starting your journey toward recovery, you won’t want to miss this event – please contact Intervention and Recovery Support Coordinator, Jodie Nealley, at 617.426.4554.
- Municipality Check-List – used to help communities ensure they have adequate support and resources to support people in their recovery from gambling disorder, as well recognize when there is a problem and what to do about it.
- Education & Training Opportunities – offered to build capacity to safeguard the Commonwealth with clinicians who are able to properly support those affected by problems with gambling.
We also encourage people in recovery for gambling disorder to take our Recovery Survey. This survey, believed to be the first of its kind to document many aspects about life in recovery from problem gambling, is being conducted by The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health in partnership with the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Problem Gambling Solutions (Portland, Oregon) and Arnie and Sheila Wexler Associates (Bradley Beach, NJ).
Problem gambling has been studied from a clinical/treatment perspective and a prevention perspective, but little is known about the lives of people in recovery from gambling problems. We are looking to find out how people in recovery from gambling problems think about their recovery, what initiated their recovery, what they have found beneficial in supporting their recovery, what has not been so helpful and what resources might be of assistance if available.
Throughout the month Mass. Council staff members will be attending various events. These events may include:
- Friday, September 12 – New Bedford Recovery Month Celebration Day (for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Saturday, September 13 – Allston/Brighton Walk for Recovery (for more information, contact email@example.com)
- Saturday, September 20 – Worcester Cares About Recover Walk (for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Monday, September 22 – Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) 24th Recovery Month Celebration Day at Boston City Hall Plaza (for more information, contact MOARfran@aol.com)
- Friday, September 26 – Springfield Recovery Day (for more information, contact email@example.com)
- Saturday, September 27 – 11th Annual Recovery Jam at The Recover Project in Greenfield (for more information, contact Mary Kate Farley-Dimino: 413.774.5489)
- Saturday, September 27- STEPRox Recovery Support Center Event in Roxbury.
Please check here for other National Recovery Month events around the country. If you are interested in being involved on a national level, the National Rally for Recovery is being held on Saturday, September 20, in Louisville, Kentucky (more information).
Whether you are celebrating your own recovery journey, or a loved one’s journey, we support you – and we would love to hear from you. Remember to “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter: MassCouncilCG to let us know how you plan to celebrate National Recovery Month.