September is National Recovery Month. Sponsored by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), Recovery Month is designed to boost awareness and understanding of both mental and substance abuse disorders as well as to celebrate those who live in recovery. This year, Recovery Month celebrates its 29th anniversary and will focus on urban communities, health care providers, members of the media, as well as policymakers.

This year, the theme that Recovery Month is focusing on “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.” As such, the month is exploring how integrated care, a strong community, a sense of purpose, and leadership contribute to effective treatments that boost and sustain the recovery of those with mental and substance use disorders.  But it’s not stopping there; this year’s Recovery Month also aims to increase awareness and encourage audiences to take advantage of the increased dialogue that’s developing around behavioral health needs as well an increased focus on tackling this nation’s opioid crisis.

One of the core focuses of Recovery Month is to highlight inspirational stories that aid thousands of people from as many walks of life as possible, helping them find hope, health, and wellness. SAMHSA is also providing key documents and materials to help you organize your own Recovery Month celebrations if you wish.

Recovery Month began in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month, which honored the work of substance use treatment professionals in the field. The observance evolved into National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in 1998, when it expanded to include celebrating the accomplishment of individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. The observance evolved once again in 2011 to National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to include all aspects of behavioral health.

The amount of males in recovery is staggering.

  • In 2013, adult men in the United States struggled with an alcohol use disorder at rates double those of women, 10.8 million as compared to 5.8 million, NIAAA
  • For boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17, both genders battle substance use disorders at similar rates, making it the only age bracket that men did not significantly outweigh women in the 2013 NSDUH
  • Close to 70 percent of treatment admissions for substance abuse in 2010 were male according to TEDS
  • Men may be more likely to abuse illicit drugs than women, but women may be just as prone to addiction as men when they do abuse them according to NIDA

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use & Health shows that rates of substance use disorders differ between men and women. For instance:

  • The percentage of women ages 18 and up who had five or more drinks in one day at least once in the past year was 17.4%. The percentage was higher for men in this age group at 32.6%.
  • Men aged 12 or older are more likely than women to report illegal drug use (12.8% vs. 7.3%).
  • More men than women ages 12 and up reported using marijuana (10.9% vs. 6%), cocaine (0.8% vs. 0.4%), and hallucinogens (0.6% vs. 0.3%).
  • The rate of substance dependence or abuse for males ages 12 and up was greater than the rate for females (10.7% vs. 5.7%).

Unfortunately, males dying to substance abuse far outweighs females. Males top the charts in terms of:

Number of deaths involving opioids

Number of deaths involving opioid pain relievers

Number of deaths involving other synthetic opioids (mostly Fentanyl)

Number of deaths involving heroin

Number of deaths involving cocaine

Number of deaths involving cocaine and non-Buprenorphine/Naltrexone opioid synthetics

Number of deaths involving benzodiazepines

Some other quick facts about men and substance abuse include:

* Men appear to be more sensitive to nicotine’s pharmacologic effects related to substance use disorder.

* Men who are addicted to marijuana have higher rates of other substance use problems as well as antisocial personality disorders.

* The severity of marijuana use disorders is generally higher for men.

* Men show higher MDMA-induced blood pressure increases than women.

* In general, men have higher rates of alcohol use, including binge drinking. 

All of these statistics point to one thing; you should be involved with National Recovery Month, be it directly or indirectly. You can stop by SAMHSA’s official toolkit page to download any and all materials to help you put your own celebrations together.  They have posters, logos, banners, flyers and more.

Currently, the Planning Partners is comprised of more than 300 federal, state, and local government entities, as well as nonprofit organizations and associations affiliated with prevention, treatment, and recovery of mental and/or substance use disorders. You are encouraged to involve the national organizations and local affiliates or chapters in your state and ask them to collaborate with your organization on Recovery Month planning. You can find local affiliates or chapters by contacting the national organizations directly. To locate a planning partner, simply head here. And if you’re hosting an event, you can even submit what you did for an award here. It can be a rally or walk/run event; it can be educational, or it can be a special celebration.