By Megan Krause

You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died. For those who have fought for it, life has a flavor the protected shall never know. – Guy de Maupassant

That’s how I feel about life today.

While my battle with addiction was painful and terrifying and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it is because I knew such despair then that I know such freedom now. There is joy in escape.

Or, to paraphrase my friend Sharmyn: Radical powerlessness means radical freedom.

And now we get to shout the good news.

That’s what National Recovery Month is about. Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration sponsors Recovery Month to increase awareness of and celebrate those who recover from substance use disorders.

Recovery Speakers is proud to join them in the celebration. Unfortunately, there’s still a significant amount of stigma associated with addiction and recovery. This stigma isn’t just individually hurtful; it’s a serious public health issue. Feelings of shame and disgrace contribute to the high rates of death, refusal to seek treatment and incarceration that are so common among addicts and alcoholics.

Let’s look at the state of addiction in the nation, share some good news from those who have recovered, and offer resources to find help.

10 statistics about alcoholism and drug addiction in the US

  1. More than 27 million Americans use illicit drugs or misuse prescription drugs (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)
  2. More than 66 million people (almost 25 percent of the adult and teen population) report binge drinking in the previous 30 days (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)
  3. One in 10 Americans over age 12 have used an illegal drug in the past month (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  4. Only 10 percent of addicts receive treatment (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)
  5. Approximately 175 Americans die every day from drug overdoses; 115 of those are opioid overdoses (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
  6. About 80 percent of heroin addicts first misused prescription painkillers (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
  7. Alcohol-related deaths are the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation: nearly 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related causes (DrugAbuse.com)
  8. The economic impact of substance abuse equals$442 billion each year (for context, diabetes costs $245 billion a year) (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)
  9. For every $1 invested in treatment, we’d save $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in criminal justice costs (Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health)
  10.  Alcohol and/or drugs play a role in 80 percent of offenses leading to incarceration (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence)

People in recovery speak out

Those are bleak statistics, but take heart: There is so much hope. Read on:

Garth Kruger, 7 years in recovery

Recovery has given me the ability to face life successfully and be at peace with myself, no matter what the circumstances look like. I have a new and wonderful perception of myself, of the people around me, and of a Higher Power. All of that seemed impossible when I got here.

Ginger Lane, 23 years in recovery

Addiction is a disease. If we go to our doctor’s appointments (12-step meetings) and take our medicine as prescribed (the 12 steps), our disease stays in remission. Twelve-step programs are 100 percent successful if we follow “doctor’s” orders.

Alison Gamez, 17 years in recovery

At my worst, I was homeless and slept in my car. I became a therapist to help other people and am now living my dream by focusing on all areas of health—mental, physical, social, financial, emotional, spiritual, environmental.

Ashley Kruger, 2 years in recovery

Recovery has given me a brand-new beautiful life, real friends, and most importantly, tools to get through this life without using drugs or alcohol. If you are struggling, don’t be embarrassed to dust yourself off and try again—I did it plenty of times!

Patrick Roland, 3 years in recovery

From the moment I admitted I was powerless over drugs and that I needed help from a Higher Power, my new life has been a series of miracles. You can make it. Believe you can and trust God and the people He sends to help you.

Madeline Knauer-Graham, 33 years

Once I lost all my dreams to drugs and never thought I would be happy again, but with continued vigilance and willingness to do the work using the 12-stepmodel, I have a life I am proud of. I never want to go back!

Nathan, 7 years in recovery

The 12 steps are a tactical approach to a spiritual condition. If we are honest and thorough through this process, we connect with something greater than ourselves and begin to create a new life. If you want to be free, give it a chance—you have nothing to lose and the whole world to gain.

Jessie Johnson, 7 years in recovery

Recovery has shown me how to be comfortable in my own skin. I’ve learned to trust myself and can now have trust in others. I am fully present in the lives of my childrenand my family and friends. It’s given me purpose and meaning. Having faith in this process and doing the work may be the hardest thing you have ever done,but I promise, it is so worth it.

Celebrities in recovery

Several celebrities have come forward to claim their status as a person in recovery. These include:

  • Drew Barrymorerecovery monthrecovery month
  • Russell Brand
  • Eric Clapton
  • Bradley Cooper
  • Robert Downey Jr.
  • Zac Efron
  • Eminem
  • Kelsey Grammer
  • Anthony Hopkins
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Stephen King
  • Shia LaBeouf
  • Courtney Love
  • Tobey Maguire
  • Demi Moore
  • Gary Oldman
  • Kelly Osbourne
  • Matthew Perry
  • Michael Phelps
  • Joaquin Phoenix
  • Daniel Radcliffe
  • Mike Tyson
  • Keith Urban

 

Get help for alcoholism & addiction

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, please reach out. Below is a list of resources that can help:

Information & referrals

12-step fellowships

Help for family & friends

Recovery is possible

You are worth a good life. And if you’re already in recovery, don’t forget to share some hope with someone who has none.

Megan Krause is a recovered addict and freelance writer living an amazing, sober life in Phoenix, Arizona. Connect with her on LinkedIn.