Our society can be contradictory at times. We celebrate when loved ones finish treatment cancer-free, but yet we don’t usually extend the same congratulatory wishes when someone overcomes a drug or alcohol addiction. It’s almost as though those who battle addiction and mental health issues are looked down upon instead of being boosted up — as they should be.

For so long, it was considered acceptable to keep substance abuse, addiction and mental health topics hidden under the rug. It was simply not something to talk about with family and friends — the very people whose support is vital to recovery.

It’s time for that to change, which is why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other organizations mark September as National Recovery Month.

The initiative, which was started in 1989, is meant to increase public awareness surrounding mental health and addiction recovery. September is also a time to celebrate the gains made by those in recovery and reinforce the message that behavioral health is essential to overall health.

“This isn’t a fight that’s won overnight. But it’s a fight we are committed to seeing through,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Addiction affects us all. It affects those we love and care about, and it impacts our economic success. Let’s work together to win the fight against opioids and build a better Kentucky — a better country — for us all.”

A Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Office of Drug Control Policy report released earlier this year indicates that the use of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid — contributed to a record number of overdose fatalities in the state last year. 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021 — nearly a 15% increase over the year before and the first time ever that the state has recorded more than 2,000 overdose fatalities in a single year. What’s even scarier is that 73% of those deaths were attributed to a single drug — fentanyl.

No one should have to fight alone. Let’s have more conversations about substance abuse, addiction and mental health issues. Let’s support — but not enable — those who are suffering and let them know there is hope and help is available.

If you or someone you know needs help with treatment resources, call the KY Help Call Center at 833-8KY-HELP or visit findhelpnowky.org Kentuckians can also visit the Kentucky State Police Angel Initiative website at http://kentuckystatepolice.org/angel-initiative/ to find one of KSP’s 16 posts where those suffering from addiction can be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program.

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