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Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month set; State, local agencies partner together

By Staff | Sep 16, 2008

The Department of Children and Families will join community partners across the state to bring local awareness to the issue of drug and alcohol addiction.

This month is the 19th Annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

Since the public does not always possess a vast knowledge of the causes and treatments of addiction, the aim of recovery month is to recognize individuals who have defeated their own addiction and inform the community that it is a treatable, medical illness.

Further, the department wants to encourage those struggling with addiction to get help.

“We understand that stigma often interferes with a person’s motivation to seek treatment, but we want all Floridians to realize that treatment is available,” said George Sheldon, interim secretary for DCF.

DCF reported that more than 1.6 million Floridians suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, and it estimates more than 600,000 are in need of public-funded care.

“Addiction to alcohol or substances is a medical illness. We can help, if people will take the first step of seeking help,” said Sheldon.

Overcoming addiction is more than simply choosing to discontinue the use of drugs or alcohol. Many times a person with an addiction is also diagnosed with a mental illness. According to DCF, one in five individuals struggling with addiction have some type of mental disorder.

Statewide the department works with 170 community providers that serve 115,000 adults and 53,000 children every year.

The theme for this year’s national recovery month is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Real People, Real Recovery.”

Local organizations like Southwest Florida Addiction Services, “http://www.swfas.org”>www.swfas.org, help people to overcome addictions. SWFAS has served more than 63,000 residents living in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties.

Michelle Phillips, executive assistant to the chief executive officer at SWFAS, said the organization has not planned any events to coincide with National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. Instead they will focus on Red Ribbon Week in October.

The week is in honor of Enrique Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico while trying to fight illegal drugs in 1985. Red Ribbon Week runs from Oct. 23-31.

“We focused a lot of our energies on Red Ribbon Week in October. As matter of fact we are planning a talent show with kids during that week,” said Phillips.

Phillips added that SWFAS plans on participating in recovery month next year.

Lee Mental Health Center, www.leementalhealth.org, is another local organization assisting residents with substance abuse and mental health treatment. The United Way House in Cape Coral offers community outreach and prevention services.

DCF is currently developing a comprehensive continuous integrated system of care, officials explained. The system will help individuals to receive substance abuse or mental health treatment, regardless of what they were originally accepted for.

Recovery from the disease of addiction is a lifelong process, but it is achievable because of treatment and the perseverance of individuals and their families,” said Bill James, assistant secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health.