This month we observe National Recovery Month, a time of celebration for those on the journey to recovery. The theme for this year is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Our Families, Our Stories, Our Recovery!” Substance misuse disorders and/or other mental health disorders adversely affect communities nationwide; however, through support and commitment, those suffering from these disorders can achieve healthy lifestyles, lead rewarding lives, and successfully recover.

Service related behavioral health issues such as substance misuse often negatively impact active duty Marines, other servicemembers, and veterans. These stressful situations can make it challenging to balance the overarching values and responsibilities embedded in the military culture - teamwork, selflessness, and working toward shared goals - and still feel empowered to address personal needs. As a result, Marines may struggle to seek the help and support or treatment needed to recover and when they do, it is often after some time has passed. Research shows that a substance use disorder (SUD) lasts four years longer for veterans than non-veterans and veterans start their recovery process at an older age.

The families of Marines and other military members are in a position to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance misuse and mental health disorders and often play a major role in prevention and recovery. These family members help to prevent these disorders by identifying a problem and connecting their loved one with the resources or treatment they need to begin and maintain their journey to recovery. It is essential to build and strengthen family resilience during stressful times such as deployment or returning home in order to help foster healthy families. Letting Marines know they are not alone as they go through this process is very important.

Family members may not always know where to turn for the resources necessary to help their family member. Here are a few resources provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to get you started:

If you or a loved one is experiencing substance abuse or mental health issues, don’t wait - check out the resources provided here or visit your local Substance Abuse Counseling Center (SACC) for immediate assistance. Take Action and help your loved one begin the journey to recovery now!

Join others across the nation in celebrating National Recovery Month throughout September. Your voice matters because it promotes the message that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people do recover.