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A time to celebrate recovery in action

By: Dr. Robert Oldham
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perience a mental health or substance use disorder feel isolated and alone. Yet, every year millions of Americans experience these conditions, and it’s critical that we give them support. Each one of us can help create environments and relationships that promote acceptance. Support from families is essential to recovery, so it’s important that family members have the tools to start conversations about prevention, treatment and recovery. Too many people are still unaware that prevention works and that mental health and substance use disorders can be treated, just like other health problems.

As a psychiatrist, friend and family member, I have witnessed the positive reality of recovery. Individuals who embrace recovery improve their mental and physical health and form stronger relationships with their neighbors, family members and peers. Recovery can be a long, challenging journey. Like most journeys, there are often some setbacks along the way. But we need to help more people understand that recovery is possible, and that both the journey and the destination are worth it … that every person, every family and every community can be touched by and is worthy of recovery.

Mental health and substance use disorders affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions and socioeconomic levels — from students to senior citizens, teachers to veterans. People from all backgrounds need to know that help is available. Everyone, no matter who we are or what struggles we face, can get better, both physically and emotionally, with the support of a welcoming community.
Families and communities can find hope and spread the message that recovery works this September as part of annual National Recovery Month celebrations. This year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose and Community,” explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders.

We at Placer County will be sharing stories of people from all walks of life who have found the path to recovery and hope, health and wellness. I hope you’ll do the same, if you have your own story that you feel comfortable sharing with friends and loved ones — and if not, take the time to seek out and listen to others’ stories. There are some great tips about starting conversations around mental health at eachmindmatters.org, and people can also find treatment and recovery support services at placer.ca.gov/adultservices or by attending a walk-in substance use or mental health clinic.
Offering support to those experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders can make a huge difference. Together we can help others realize the promise of recovery and give families the right support to help their loved ones.

Dr. Robert Oldham is Placer County’s public health officer and lives in Roseville. Contact his office at 530-889-7141.