Mental health and substance use disorders affect all communities nationwide. With commitment and support, those impacted can embark on a journey of improved health and overall wellness. The focus of National Recovery Month this September is to educate others about substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders, the effectiveness of treatment and recovery services, and that recovery is possible. Recovery Month spreads the message that people can and do recover every day and to celebrate all people that make the journey of recovery possible. Through Recovery Month, people become more aware and able to recognize the signs of mental health and substance use disorders and people in need of recovery services are encouraged to seek help.

The 2021 National Recovery Month theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” reminds people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. Everyone’s journey is different, but we are all in this together. Check out the comprehensive list of resources below for those looking for help with a substance use and/or mental health disorder for themselves or a loved one:

Addiction Recovery Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous: A fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem (https://www.aa.org/)

Cocaine Anonymous: A fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from their addiction (https://ca.org/)

Crystal Meth Anonymous: A fellowship whose primary purpose is to lead a sober life and to carry the message of recovery to the crystal meth addict who still suffers (https://www.crystalmeth.org/)

Dual Recovery Anonymous: A fellowship of men & women who meet to support each other in their common recovery from two No-Fault illnesses: an emotional or psychiatric illness and chemical dependency (http://draonline.qwknetllc.com/index.html)  

Heroin Anonymous: A 12-Step program adapted from AA’s 12 steps and concerned solely with the personal recovery and continued sobriety of heroin addicts (http://heroinanonymous.org/)

In The Rooms: A Global Recovery Community: Information, resources, live meetings and discussion groups for individuals recovering from addiction and related issues (https://www.intherooms.com/home/)

Life Ring Secular Recovery: An abstinence based, secular, and self-empowered addiction recovery pathway offering text, voice and video meetings (https://www.lifering.org/online-meetings)  

Marijuana Anonymous: A fellowship of people who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from marijuana addiction (https://marijuana-anonymous.org/)

Narcotics Anonymous: A fellowship of people for whom drugs had become a major problem and who meet regularly to help each other stay clean (https://www.na.org/)

Nicotine Anonymous: Information, resources, and access to directories of in-person and virtual meetings for those struggling with their nicotine use (https://www.nicotine-anonymous.org/)

Refuge Recovery: Program grounded in the belief that Buddhist principles and practices create a strong foundation for a path to freedom from addiction (https://www.refugerecovery.org/)

Unity Recovery: Virtual meetings for those in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders and/or their loved ones (https://unityrecovery.org/digital-recovery-meetings)

We Connect: Daily virtual meetings for those dealing with substance use, mental health concerns, eating disorders, as well as any other quality of life concerns (https://www.weconnectrecovery.com/free-online-support-meetings)

Blogs, Forums & Apps

Addiction Guide’s Recovery Blog Post Collection: Inspirational and helpful blogs for men and women struggling with addiction (https://feedly.com/addiction)

The Addiction Recovery Guide Message Boards: A place to share stories and ask questions about treatment for all kinds of addictions (https://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/message_board/)

Connections App: A free smartphone app that is scientifically proven to support patients in recovery by reducing relapse and promoting pro-social engagement (https://www.addictionpolicy.org/connections-app)

Recovery Speakers: Online library of recovery audio recordings (https://www.recoveryspeakers.com/)

SMART Recovery Forum: An online meeting place for those going through the SMART program to discuss their progress and support one another (https://www.smartrecovery.org/community/forum.php#.VlfM3HarRhE)

Sober Recovery Forum: A place where people who are living sober lifestyles after suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction can openly share stories and experiences (https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/)

Helplines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline

  • Toll-Free: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Support available Monday-Friday: 10am-8pm

New York State Hopeline

Partnership to End Addiction

  • Text: CONNECT to 55753 or schedule a phone call at https://drugfree.org/
  • Free and confidential help available for parents, grandparents, or another family member who is struggling with a child’s drug or alcohol abuse. Services include personalized course of action for individuals and families, as well as information and resources. Support is available in English and Spanish.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline

Organizations

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Information, resources, and support for those struggling with suicidal thoughts and their loved ones, as well as those who have lost someone to suicide (https://afsp.org/)

Drug Crisis in Our Backyard: A non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families struggling with substance misuse (https://www.drugcrisisinourbackyard.org/)

Friends of Recovery New York: Recovery Support Services: Information about some of the recovery support services offered across New York State (https://for-ny.org/recovery-support/)

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults (https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/)

The Mental Health Association of Westchester: Information, resources, treatment, and support (https://www.mhawestchester.org/)

NAMI Westchester: Information and resources for those living with a mental health condition and their loved ones (https://namiwestchester.org)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Latest research on alcohol use and its impact on human health and well-being (https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/)

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Latest research on drug use and its consequences including pertinent information on commonly abused drugs, emerging trends, and clinical resources (https://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Office of Addiction Services and Supports
Prevention, treatment, and recovery information and resources (https://oasas.ny.gov/)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Treatment, prevention, and recovery information and resources (https://www.samhsa.gov/)

Support for Loved Ones

Al-Anon Family Groups: A mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking (https://al-anon.org/)

Nar-Anon Family Groups: Information, resources, and access to directories of in-person and virtual meetings for friends and family of addicts (https://www.nar-anon.org/naranon/)

National Alliance on Mental Illness Help for Family Members and Caregivers: Information and resources including family to family programs and family support groups (https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Family-Members-and-Caregivers)

Partnership to End Addiction: Information, support, and resources for families pertaining to substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery (https://drugfree.org/)

Treatment Locator

American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Find a Psychiatrist Tool: https://finder.psychiatry.org/?_ga=1.178573348.1294726899.1456165962

American Psychological Association’s Find a Psychologist Tool: https://locator.apa.org/?_ga=1.122738379.1939913089.1455299072

Buprenorphine Treatment Locator: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/practitioner-program-data/treatment-practitioner-locator

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

 

The DAPC is also offering the following webinars during National Recovery Month to help the community learn more about the help and resources available to those struggling with a mental health and/or substance use disorder:

Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention:

Shatter the Stigma:

  • September 29th, 7pm
  • Dr. Jonathan Avery, Director of Addiction Psychiatry and an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, will present along with a panel of people in recovery who will share their stories.
  • Registration link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_f2inCU2kS4miYOlR6XSrgg 

For parents, the impending departure of their child for college generates a wide variety of emotions. There is pride felt for their child’s great accomplishments and excitement for all the wonderful things their future holds. On the other hand, there is also sadness, because it’s time to “let go,” and fear of the decisions their son or daughter will be faced with as they start this new, independent chapter of their lives.

One of the greatest fears many parents have involve drugs and alcohol. Talking with your child before college reduces the risk of unhealthy decision making. However, it is important to expand the conversation beyond just the facts about substance use. Rather, focus the discussion on maintaining their overall well-being as they experience the many changes that lie ahead. This will motivate them to think about their personal priorities and values and how to honor those with each decision they make. It will also help by preparing them with the necessary coping skills for any stressful situations they will experience as a new college student.

Important topics to discuss during these pre-college conversations include:

Expectations

Setting clear, realistic expectations is important. It helps college bound students navigate their new lives by having a general understanding of what they need to be doing academically, financially, and behaviorally. However, allowing your children to discuss their expectations for what college will be like can be just as important. This can help them adjust if things don’t go exactly as planned. For some college students, stress and anxiety can be at a high due to the change of leaving home, the experience of living with roommates, the pressure of meeting new people, and the difficulty of taking more challenging classes. Knowing how to cope with unmet expectations and/or difficult situations can help reduce these stress and anxiety levels.

Physical Health and Safety

Openly discuss diet, sleep, physical activity, and other healthy habits. Ask if they have any questions or concerns regarding how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Offer helpful suggestions and assistance with identifying where to go if they get sick or injured. Depending on the school, their resources usually include resident advisors, campus security, student health services, and the local police department.

Mental Health

Most people have no problem identifying when they feel physically ill. Mental illness can be a bit trickier. The signs and symptoms can vary among individuals and it can be hard for people to tell if what they’re feeling is a bad day, stressful week, or something more. Talk with your child about stress, anxiety and depression. Explain any family history of mental illness and how that may affect them. Most importantly, help them find their resources on campus, such as a counseling center. Remind them that even though they are away from home, you are still a phone call away to help.

Drugs and Alcohol

This is an extremely important time for your kids to be reminded of the dangers regarding drugs and alcohol. Review state laws and campus policies on underage drinking and drug use. They may not fully understand that the consequences for being caught drinking or using drugs will go beyond punishments given by their parents. As a young adult, they will now be held accountable for their decisions in a way that can have more long-term effects on their futures.  It is also imperative to discuss additional risks posed if your child is taking any prescription medications and/or has a family history of drug or alcohol abuse. They may not know that certain risk factors make them more likely to be affected by alcohol and drug experimentation than their peers.

Peer Pressure

College kids may think the social pressures they’ve faced in middle and high school are all behind them. As it turns out, living with their peers in a dorm creates even more opportunities for pressure among friends. When discussing this, the main point to convey is personal responsibility for their choices. As an adult, they need to start making more decisions on their own that they feel proud of and that make them a better person. Help them develop the confidence needed to do this by talking with them about what kinds of decisions they want to make rather than solely focusing on decisions you’d like them to make. Incorporating their goals into the conversation can help steer them in the right direction. If the choices they plan on making will reduce the likelihood of them reaching their goals, help them understand this and adjust accordingly.

Maintaining Communication

Trying to prove their independence to themselves and others, new college students may feel they must deal with any problems that arise all on their own. Remind them that even independent adults need help, support, and advice at times! Having a time to check in with one another is a helpful way to keep the lines of communication open. This looks different for every family. Some will want to communicate more frequently than others. Come up with a plan that suits both you and your child. Comparing schedules and setting aside some times you are both available to talk can be a helpful starting point. Routine conversations will allow you to pick up on signs of stress, especially in the first semester as your child experiences their adjustment period.

Making The Most Out Of Their Experience

Young people become so accustomed to their elders telling them what not to do that they may begin to tune out conversations. While discussing behaviors to avoid is monumentally important, it is equally as important to include what they should be doing. This helps steer the conversation in a more positive direction. Remind them of the many opportunities they will have over the next four years to not only better their future, but to enjoy different experiences, make new friends, and learn more about themselves. Culturally, many kids see college as a constant party scene. It is important that they are reminded of the many positive opportunities offered at their school including campus events, university organizations, volunteer projects, study abroad programs, and internships. These are the experiences which help many college students create their best memories.

Remember, there is an adjustment period for parents too! Click here for information and resources to adjust to your new role as a college parent.

 

By: Kathryn Ferrara

There are a variety of factors which impact the likelihood of an individual developing a substance use and/or mental health disorder. Effective prevention reduces the risk factors while strengthening the protective factors associated with drug use and other problem behaviors. Parental involvement and positive relationships with caregivers are two of the chief protective factors identified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

School breaks, such as summer vacation which on the horizon, can provide an excellent opportunity for families to enjoy time together. 

See some of the suggestions and resources below to help plan a fun and memorable summer that can strengthen the bonds between you and your kids:

Arts & Crafts: Art can be a great way to bond as a family. It allows everyone to take a break from technology and focus on creating something as a family.  Working on something together can also help kids relax and open up to their families about things that may be on their mind. Check out these great resources for some simple ideas to get started:

Family Book Club: This is a great way to make reading a fun experience while creating an opportunity for family members to connect to one another. For younger children, they can take turns choosing books to be read aloud by an adult family member who can then lead a discussion afterwards. For older kids, they can take turns choosing books for the whole family to read independently before coming together to discuss them. There isn’t one right way to utilize this idea. It’s all about creating an enjoyable shared experience. Check out some ideas below, but remember to make it your own:

Fun with Food: According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), children whose families share regular meals together are less likely to smoke, drink, or use illicit drugs. Regular family meal times also have a positive impact on mental health and academic performance. Finding ways to involve kids in the kitchen to prepare meals creates additional time to bond. Read cookbooks and browse online recipes with kids to find things they are interested in learning to make. Have them come to the grocery store to buy the ingredients needed and work together in the kitchen to prepare the meal. Creative theme nights (taco bar, breakfast for dinner) is another way to make dinner a fun experience. However, hectic family schedules with work, sports, and other activities can make having dinner together a challenge. Having breakfast together or a family dessert time at the end of the evening are alternative ways to get the entire family sitting at the table together. 

Game Night: Family game night is fun and beneficial for child development.  Board games, card games, or even simple communication games such as I-Spy or 20 Questions is a great way to bond as a family while engaging kids without technology.  Creating your own family board game can take this idea a step further by giving the family a fun summer project to work on!

Get Outdoors: Picnics, scavenger hunts, hikes, trips to the park, backyard campouts… the possibilities for outdoor family fun are endless! Check out some resources below to help you plan some outdoor activities:

Movie Night: There are so many ways to put a fun spin on the traditional family movie night. Have young kids make and “sell” tickets and concessions. They can also take turns picking the movie. You can even have an outdoor movie night with the right set up. Check out more ideas here to make movie night unforgettable for the whole family!

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane: Sharing family stories, looking through photo albums, creating scrapbooks, and watching home videos is not only an enjoyable experience for many families, but it’s a great catalyst for discussion with kids about your family’s core values. When kids understand and appreciate their family values, it can help inform their decision making.

 

You can also take a look at what your town’s recreation department has to offer. Check out the online summer brochures below:

By: Kathryn Ferrara

As COVID-19 has spread throughout the country it brought many devastating effects to communities, including a rapid rise in mental health struggles. According to recent data from Mental Health America (MHA),  the number of people with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety steadily increased throughout 2020. Current rates remain higher than those prior to the onset of the pandemic. This data serves as an important reminder to everyone reading that they are not alone, as mental health struggles remain rampant in current times.  Loss of employment or pandemic-related job stress, financial concerns, disrupted routines, and isolation caused by social distancing measures have taken a serious toll on the overall health and well-being of people among all communities.

Prioritizing self-care is a crucial part of coping with stress and anxiety in a healthy way. Ways to do this include:

Research shows that meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are many types of meditation, and plenty of free resources available to help guide you through the process of getting started. Here’s a great starter guide for beginners, including some free audio practices.

The radical changes the pandemic has brought to our lifestyles has made it challenging to find ways to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine. Check out these strategies for engaging in physical activity while maintaining social distancing.

Nutrition is important, but sometimes having a healthy diet is easier said than done. It can take time, effort, and money that many simply don’t have. Fortunately, there are plenty of tips available for those looking to improve their diet in a way that fits their lifestyle and resources. Take a look at this excellent resource for easy recipes for busy families, tips for meal planning and prepping to reduce cooking time, and grocery shopping on a budget.

There is plenty of research that links quality sleep to optimal physical and mental health. Achieving this is another task that can be easier said than done for many, especially as stress and anxiety can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. These healthy sleep tips can be a great starting point for those looking to learn more about how to foster optimal sleep schedules, bedtime routines, and pro-sleep habits.

Figure out what you enjoy and make time for it where you can. Research shows that engaging in leisurely activities can “induce positive emotions and reduce stress.” It may look a little different than what you are used to while social distancing measures continue, as some activities that people enjoy such as traveling aren’t as feasible right now. However, this can be an excellent opportunity to explore some new interests. Check out these creative suggestions for spending your free time in a safe, yet enjoyable way.

It’s important to remember that distance doesn’t mean disengagement. When life is absent of meaningful connections with others, it could lead to feelings of isolation which contribute to depression and anxiety. There is no doubt that socializing in current times is challenging and requires a bit of creativity. With that said, staying engaged with our loved ones is still possible even while following social distancing guidelines.  Here’s some simple suggestions for safely maintaining social connections.

However, some may find these strategies are not enough to manage the feelings of depression and anxiety that they are experiencing. It is important to remember that help is available! Figuring out where to start can feel like a daunting task, especially with the draining effect mental health struggles have on our energy and motivation.  Check out this compilation of free, confidential resources available for those looking for help for themselves or a loved one.

You may also contact thedapc@gmail.com if you would like additional information and resources.

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The DAPC has a new website

You ever walk into a Starbucks , a restaurant, a store or anywhere for that matter and see the majority of people staring intently at their phones? Did you ever wonder why they do this? Well, the tech world is the reason. They try to hijack your brain.  There’s a whole playbook of techniques that get used to get you using the product for as long as possible. For some interesting insight Click here.

If you have a teenager, you know what I mean. Most teens don’t get to bed until late and have to get up way too early for school. They are like zombies in the morning. It not only affects their ability to learn but also other important things like driving a car. Check out a teen’s perspective on this issue. Click here

Communication is a key to a healthy relationship with your child. But what happens when they ask you the dreaded questions – Did you drink when you were my age? Did you smoke pot? How do you respond?  Do you tell them the truth? Do you lie? Click here to read a great article on this subject.