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Children's Voice Article, July/Aug 2002

Recovery Month Gaining Awareness - and Results

CWLA is partnering with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and other organizations to support the 13th annual observance of National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month in September.

Recovery Month celebrates individuals and families in recovery, raises awareness of the benefits of substance abuse treatment for society, honors the contributions of treatment providers, and promotes the message that recovery from substance abuse is possible. Although Recovery Month is observed every September, activities are already under way. CWLA's hope is that the campaign's message will become a yearlong commitment to healthier living and well-being.

Recovery Month events reach millions of people nationwide. The Recovery Month website logged more than a half million visitors in 2001, up from about 100,000 in 2000. Last year's campaign also saw a 500% increase in the number of community forums and events planned across the country. Local events ranged from rallies at state capitols to panel discussions and conferences hosted by local universities, faith groups, and other organizations.

In one such event, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona joined with a local coalition to sponsor the Tucson Recovery Month Exposition. This event has become so popular, sponsors have run out of space at the local mall where it is held. Last year's exposition featured Coming To, a performing troupe of youth and young adults in recovery whose performance describes the progression of their disease, from the thrill of experimentation to the pain and isolation of addiction, the impact on their family members, and the challenge of recovery.

This year's events kicked-off in March, with a seven-part series of live webcasts and Internet chats that will be broadcast through September. The series covers topics such as criminal justice, schools and education, and health, and highlights key issues relevant to treatment and recovery.

Last year, the League participated in numerous web and media events and promoted the SAMHSA Recovery Month website. In line with this year's campaign theme, Join the Voices of Recovery: A Call to Action, CWLA has provided a community action toolkit to all member agencies to encourage their involvement in planning Recovery Month events. CWLA is also working with SAMHSA and other partners and member agencies on media and community events.

CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik continues to speak out about the critical need to develop and increase treatment services and supports to children and families in the child welfare system who are affected by substance abuse. National studies suggest that 40%-80% of the families in the child welfare system struggle with this issue. Substance abuse remains one of the largest problems facing state child protection caseloads.

The League has joined with other national organizations in supporting the Child Protection/Alcohol and Drug Partnership Act (S. 484/H.R. 1909), which would provide $1.9 billion over five years to state child welfare and substance abuse agencies that agree to take steps together to develop and increase treatment services, establish appropriate screening and assessment tools, or improve strategies to engage and retain parents in treatment and aftercare support. (See "Substance Abuse, Child Abuse: Tragedies Intertwined," Children's Voice, September 2001.)

Bilchik says CWLA must make the treatment and recovery of families a national priority. The passage of key legislation, and the public awareness generated by Recovery Month, are essential to reducing stigma and improving services and supports for these families.

The Recovery Month website, www.health.org/recoverymonth, includes news and information on national, state, and local events, as well as outreach materials, such as the community action toolkit, which features resources on event planning and information on how to reach the media and key constituency groups. All materials are available free of charge.

For more information on the League's efforts around Recovery Month, contact the CWLA Behavioral Health Division at behavioralhealth@cwla.org or 202/942-0301.

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