Remembering that hope is possible

Have you ever felt hopeless and beaten down, unsure if you can survive or make it one more day? If so, you are not alone as many people have experienced these feelings connected to their struggles with addiction or mental health issues.

September is National Alcohol and Drug Recovery month, a public awareness campaign aimed at promoting the awareness of substance abuse and mental health issues. It also strives to encourage the understanding that help is possible and to remind everyone that many people struggle with addiction or mental health issues that can destroy lives, and create pain and suffering.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2.5 million people die each year because of alcohol abuse and 15.3 million people suffer from drug dependence. Survey data from 2009 reveled that an estimated 45.1 million adults, 18 years or older, had experienced mental illness in the last year.

The observance month also gives us chance to celebrate that many people have reclaimed lives of purpose and experienced hope after suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues. Between 70 to 90 percent of individuals with mental health issues have a significant reduction in symptoms with the appropriate services. We know treatment can be effective, but many people choose not to take advantage of treatment options for a number of personal reasons. Sometimes people do not want to admit they have a problem. Other times, people fear they will be judged, fired from a job or experience some other negative reaction if they try to get help. Moreover, often people do not have the resources needed to get help, and according to research from 2009, 22 percent of adults with substance abuse or mental health disorders were uninsured. Additionally, some may not realize that treatment can be beneficial and think they have no other choice but to suffer.

Hope is possible and there are good, effective treatments that can help those in need. We all have been touched or impacted in some way by someone’s struggle with substance abuse or mental illness. Take a moment as you read this article, and remember one of those people. Think about the impact the situation made on your own life and what could have been if the person had received the proper and necessary treatment. Also, remember that we all can be part of the solution to help others in pain and struggling with life. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse problem or mental health issue, you can call Blount Memorial Counseling and CONCERN at 865-984-4223 or Blount Memorial Emotional Health & Recovery Center at 865-981-2300. Start with finding out what resources there are in the community and the steps that can be taken to begin to address the problems. Remember hope is possible.

Andy Schriver is a licensed clinical social worker and counselor with Blount Memorial Counseling and CONCERN.

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