Sis Wenger, NACoA President/CEO
September is National Recovery Month. For the first time, in 26 years of celebrating and strengthening public awareness about the transformational nature and breadth of recovery, this year’s theme is focused on family recovery. Finally, in legislation and in federal and state program policies – and in increasing numbers of treatment programs across the nation, wording demonstrating concern and development of programs for those impacted by another’s addiction is being added, such as “… and impacted family members, including the children.”
Silently suffering by the millions – children of alcoholic and/or drug addicted parents need and deserve better efforts from society to protect, support and empower them to come out of the shadows — to hear the stories of other children and families being set free from the pain and confusion of the family system — and to take the first steps to freedom in their own personal recovery — through Alateen or Al-Anon, through student assistance support groups at school, or structured family therapy or whole family recovery support programs like Celebrating Families!™
The year-long 2016 theme of Recovery Month is JOIN THE VOICES OF RECOVERY: OUR FAMILIES, OUR STORIES, OUR RECOVERY. There is a growing and increasingly powerful recovery movement in our country, supported and often driven by the stories of people in “long-term” recovery, but its focus is almost 100% on the addicted family member and supporting that person’s recovery. Yet, when addiction slips in and takes over a family, all are hurt by this maddening disease, and a persistent and debilitating silence overwhelms, trapping each family member in it, thus creating a fertile field for chaos.
This September’s celebration of Recovery Month offers clinicians and advocates alike a public platform to remind clients and collaborating professionals that it is no longer acceptable to help only the addicted person to find recovery. The family members who have suffered in silence and sadness for too long deserve to recover as well!
The Recovery Month website contains a library of ideas and tools to feature family recovery throughout September. Find the section on the Road to Recovery video program series, and view or download the April program, Generational Issues Affecting Recovery: From Childhood to Grandparenthood and featuring NACoA’s former Board member Dr. Steven Wolin and Advisory Board member, Dr. Tian Dayton. Review the other new broadcasts in the series and note that there are discussion guides for each to help groups or individual families to develop a deeper understanding of addiction and its family impact at their convenience. Most of all, in every day conversations all month long, celebrate Recovery Month and remind all who will listen that the silent suffering must stop. Doing nothing — saying nothing — hurts. We can all help start the healing if we will just speak up.
Sis Wenger, NACoA President/CEO, has trained about and advocated for children growing up with parental alcoholism and addiction for over 35 years.