Treatment is one of many pathways to achieve recovery from behavioral health conditions, which include mental, substance use, and co-occurring disorders. In 2010, 23.1 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem (9.1 percent of people aged 12 or older). Of these, 2.6 million (1 percent of people aged 12 or older and 11.2 percent of those who needed treatment) received treatment at a specialty facility.1 Moreover, among 45.9 million Americans aged 18 and older who experienced any mental illness, just 17.9 million received mental health treatment.2 Recovery support services provide individuals recovering from behavioral health conditions with the guidance and assistance to maintain and sustain their recovery.
Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.
The 23rd annual National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) observance this September, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will celebrate the effectiveness of treatment services and the reality of recovery.
This year’s Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: It’s Worth It,” emphasizes that while the road to recovery may be difficult, the benefits of preventing and overcoming mental and/or substance use disorders are significant and valuable to individuals, families, and communities. People in recovery achieve healthy lifestyles, both emotionally and physically, and contribute in positive ways to their communities. They also prove to family members, friends, and others that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover.
This document highlights treatment and recovery options for people with mental and/or substance use disorders – particularly for adolescents and young adults. It also discusses the importance of addressing co-occurring disorders and the benefits of recovery.
Choose the Most Appropriate Treatment and Recovery Option
Because a wide range of treatment and recovery support options exist, it’s important to find what works best for you or your loved ones who need help. Remember that treatment and recovery are ongoing – it’s a process that unfolds over time, rather than a time-limited “event.”3 No single treatment option is effective for everyone; generally, each person will need a customized treatment plan that includes goals and treatment activities designed to help achieve and sustain recovery, and plans may need to be assessed continually and modified as necessary during the road to recovery.4, 5, 6
Information on common treatment options for mental and/or substance use disorders is presented below.
Treatment and Support Services for Mental Health Problems
Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals with mental health problems have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of medication, therapy, and additional support.7 As with other chronic illnesses, individuals who seek treatment and recovery support services for mental health problems learn new life skills and go on to live healthy, empowered, and productive lives.
Treatment and support services for mental health problems include:
Psychotherapy: Includes cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, family-focused therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
Medication therapy: Does not cure mental health conditions, but can help people feel better and maintain normal daily routines. Medication should be taken as prescribed, and under the supervision of a health care professional.8
Support groups: Groups led by peers, mental health professionals, or specialty organizations that provide a forum for people to find support and common ground with others experiencing similar conditions.9
Treatment and Recovery Support Services for Substance Use Disorders
Half of all adults over age 18 know someone in recovery from an addiction to alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs.10 Individuals with an alcohol or drug dependency need to acknowledge their problem; reach out to family, friends, or health care professionals for help; and receive treatment. The following options are available:
Inpatient treatment programs: Hospital-based rehabilitation units, inpatient residential programs, and therapeutic communities.
Outpatient treatment programs: Individual counseling, medication-assisted treatment, family counseling, and group therapy.
Recovery support services: Peer-to-peer support programs, mutual support groups, faith-based support groups, and recovery schools.
Online support groups: E-therapy services, recovery chat rooms/forums, blogs, and social networking sites.
Consider the Benefits of Embracing Recovery
The recovery journey, while unique for every individual, can be defined as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.11 When suffering from a mental or substance use disorder, a person might feel a loss of control. The first step to recovery is taking back control by making changes to improve one’s life. Lifestyle changes during and after treatment to support one’s recovery may include ending dysfunctional relationships in lieu of healthier ones, resolving personal problems, eating healthier, and getting enough rest and exercise. By taking control and making a commitment to recovery, it is possible for people to feel better emotionally and physically, have time to do the things they enjoy; experience less stress, and improve their overall quality of life.12
Understand Mental and/or Substance Use Disorders Among Adolescents and Young Adults
During transitional periods from one developmental stage to another, such as entering high school or leaving home for college, adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. Additionally, half of all mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders13 are diagnosed by age 14 and three-fourths were diagnosed by age 24,14 which further underscores the critical nature of this time period. Providing adolescents and young adults with treatment designed specifically for their age group significantly reduces substance use and improves psychological outcomes, as well as school performance.15 Support and encouragement from family and friends can have a profound impact on an individual’s recovery. Below are other important qualities of a comprehensive treatment plan.16
- Targeted sessions that address large issues such as trauma, victimization, or depression;
- Mental health services that further assess the condition and include medication management;
- Substance use sessions that approach adolescents at the appropriate level of social and cognitive development;
- Family programming, including parent education, family counseling, and home visits;
- Recovery support services such as transportation, case management, and coordination of care;
- Comprehensive health care, including treatment for sexually transmitted diseases or other conditions such as asthma/respiratory problems; and
- Recreational activity and exposure to activities not involving drugs or alcohol.
Address Co-Occurring Disorders
A co-occurring disorder means an individual has both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, for example.17 About half of individuals with a severe mental disorder are also affected by substance abuse.18 Both mental and/or substance use disorders are long-term conditions, so treatment for a co-occurring disorder may take place over an extended period of time.19 By receiving coordinated, combined, or integrated treatment from the same clinician or treatment team, those with co-occurring disorders have a much better chance of long-term recovery.20
Additional Recovery Resources
A variety of resources provide additional information on Recovery Month and mental, substance use, and co-occurring disorders, as well as prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. The toll-free numbers and websites below are available for people to share their experiences, learn from others, and seek help from professionals. Through these resources, individuals can interact with others and find support on an as-needed, confidential basis.
– Leads efforts to reduce the impact of mental and/or substance use disorders on communities nationwide.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD) – Provides 24-hour, free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish.
SAMHSA’s “Find Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment” Website
– Contains information about treatment options and special services located in your area.
SAMHSA’s “Co-Occurring Disorders” Website
– Contains information on co-occurring disorders, treatment, issues, and facts.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – Provides a free, 24-hour helpline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Treatment 101: Recovery Today – Part of SAMHSA’s Road to Recovery Television and Radio series that examines many aspects of treatment and recovery.
Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory
– Allows users to locate a therapist, psychologist, or counselor who specializes in mental health problems by city or zip code throughout the United States.
Mental Health America
– Offers resources about the realities of mental health and mental illness.
– Offers live online support and contains an abundance of resources on alcohol and drug treatment services that are searchable by State.
and Narcotics Anonymous – Contains an array of resources for individuals suffering from alcohol or drug dependence, respectively, and allows them to find and join a local chapter.
Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups
– Provides support groups for families and friends of people with alcohol problems.
– Offers a community for family members to share experiences related to substance use disorders.
For more information, read the in-depth version of this guide. Information about treatment options and special services in your area can be found by calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD), as well as at http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment.
Inclusion of websites and resources in this document and on the Recovery Month website does not constitute official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.