September Is Alcohol, Drug Addiction Recovery Month

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In conjunction with the 19th National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, Iowa Governor Chet Culver has proclaimed September as Recovery Month in Iowa. The theme of this year's observance is "Join the Voices for Recovery: Real People, Real Recovery."

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Mike Edens is a real person and an example of real recovery. He started drinking alcohol at age 12. By age 13, he was using illegal drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamine. In and out of jail from age 15 through 28, he came to the realization that while he wanted to be free of his addiction, he didn't know how. In 2000, a judge ordered Mike into outpatient treatment, and his life changed. "In treatment, I learned what recovery is and that without this recovery process, abstinence is short-lived," said Mike. "The most important thing I learned was 'if nothing changes, nothing changes.' I left treatment with the idea that everything has to be different in my life, if I hope to have different results." In 2003, Mike graduated from college with honors and obtained certification as an alcohol and drug counselor. "Recovery has given me a new perception of what living is," said Mike. "Recovery is a shot at real life…finally!"

Nationally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports 22.6 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. have faced a substance abuse disorder in the past year. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), alcohol is the substance most abused by Iowans. Of the Iowans screened and admitted to substance abuse treatment in FY2007, 58.3 percent received treatment for alcohol abuse. Of Iowa youth seeking treatment, 52 percent said marijuana was the primary substance they abused. "It's important for all Iowans to understand that substance abuse disorders are a serious, but treatable health care problem," said IDPH Director Tom Newton. "By treating substance abuse like other chronic diseases, we can improve the quality of life for the entire state."

Several programs, activities and ceremonies are planned across the state during Recovery Month, including a special event at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines on September 14. IDPH, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will host a family day of celebration for Iowans in treatment or recovery and those who want to show support for them. Admission to the zoo that day is free.

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