September is National Recovery Month. It provides an opportunity to spread the message of hope for recovery from addiction and to reduce stigma. By gathering as a recovery community, we show that recovery is possible, and share the hope of recovery with others. The theme for National Recovery Month is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.”

An acquaintance asked me a few days ago, “Is all this really making a difference? So many people are dying.” His question came at a hard time, coming on the heels of the deaths last week of two people near and dear to our recovery community. One died from alcohol withdrawal. Without medical supervision and assistance, withdrawal from alcohol is very dangerous. The other was a young man, barely an adult, who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl. Their families’ hearts are broken.

The answer to my friend’s question was, yes, we are making a difference. Thousands of people in Maine have found and are sustaining recovery over the last several years. New resources have come into place, and more are being developed.

People seeking recovery can walk into any one of Maine’s 19 recovery community centers and meet with someone in recovery with lived experience who is prepared to help. Recovery Community Centers are home to a variety of mutual aid groups, including 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and newer types of groups like SMART Recovery. Recovery community centers promote and support activities that offer multiple pathways of recovery. Recovery community centers also provide education and recovery supports, such as recovery coaching and telephone recovery support, and family programs. Everything is offered at no cost to participants.

But addiction is relentless. That is why the recovery community is speaking out, sharing our stories and letting people know that recovery is possible. Here in Maine, September’s celebrations of National Recovery Month will make recovery visible in communities across the state at local rallies, festivals, walks, lectures and activities. These celebrations are for everyone, including families and the broader community.

Portland Recovery Community Center’s annual Rally 4 Recovery at Payson Park on Saturday will be its largest resource fair ever, with over 50 organizations and businesses participating that are committed to helping every person find recovery. As a celebration, the rally is for the whole community. With music, crafts and children’s activities, we invite everyone to come.

Recovery is a hard journey, but there is a large community to help. By making recovery visible, we demonstrate that hope and happiness are real. Addiction takes hold in the shadows of shame and isolation, but recovery grows and thrives in connection with others. We make our recovery visible so that those still suffering can see that, as a community, we are dedicated to helping and supporting their own personal journey in recovery.

The losses of people who were loved and treasured weighs heavy. It lights the fire that drives our recovery community to keep advocating for resources and supports. It reminds us every day to show up, speak out and share the hope of recovery so that we can stop the tide of misery and death. We celebrate the lives of those lost and share the hope for those in and seeking recovery. We hope you join us at Portland Recovery Community Center’s Rally 4 Recovery, held from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 at Payson Park.

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