Observed in September every year, National Recovery Month seeks to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 20.9 million adults in the United States who ever had a substance use problem considered themselves to be recovering or in recovery.

National Recovery Month provides an opportunity for us to celebrate these accomplishments and raise awareness of the importance of supporting individuals who are on the path to recovery, while also emphasizing the need for accessible and comprehensive treatment options.

Through a strategic initiative known as the Healthy State Alliance, Mercy Health and Ohio State Wexner Medical Center have come together to combat the opioid epidemic through alliances in education, research and clinical care. Together, the organizations are observing National Recovery Month to raise awareness about the challenges of addiction and mental health while highlighting the potential for recovery.

The two organizations are committed to working together to address the opioid epidemic and offer a diverse range of recovery services aimed to provide individuals with the tools they need to achieve lasting well-being.

One such tool is the use of peer supporters – individuals with lived experience of mental illness or addiction – who have been trained on how to provide recovery support services to others. Peer supporters play a pivotal role in the journey of recovery from addiction. Connecting with individuals who have faced similar struggles can foster a unique sense of understanding, empathy, and camaraderie.

Peer support contributes significantly to the recovery process, reminding individuals that they are not alone and empowering them with the strength to overcome obstacles on their path to healing.

Both organizations offer peer support. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s peer support program started in summer 2022 and has served more 1,000 patients. The Mercy Health markets in Youngstown, Lorain, Springfield and Cincinnati also use peer supporters to support patients receiving care within the emergency departments and hospitals.  The peer supports complement a robust medication for opioid use disorders (MOUD) service which is available in all Mercy Health emergency departments, perinatal offices in Youngstown and Toledo and outpatient  practices in Lima and Youngstown

Additionally, Mercy Health and Ohio State Wexner Medical Center will offer a virtual half-day continuing education Opioid Symposium for healthcare providers on Sept. 30. This comprehensive event will feature relevant knowledge from experts who dedicate their time to fight the opioid epidemic.