September is National Recovery Month for mental illness and addiction
By M. Christine Macbeth, ACSW, LICSW, and Megan Eldridge Wroldson, LICSW

At the Brien Center, we are driven by the knowledge that treatment works, and that people can and do recover from mental illness and addiction. Frequently, they occur together, making the journey to wellness that much more challenging. Yet, we are witness to recoveries that are solid and lasting. Lives are saved, families are made whole again, and we welcome another person back to a productive and meaningful life.

September is National Recovery Month – a time to celebrate the millions of Americans who are in recovery from addiction. Some of them are our loved ones, friends and neighbors here in the Berkshires, who, for any number of reasons, were determined to find their way back.

Many of them are parents who don’t have custody of their children because of addiction. With Brien Center services, they receive psychiatric care, appropriate medication, and avail themselves of our counseling services and housing programs, including those that accommodate children. Some are so committed to improving their lives that they also find employment or finish their education while still in our programs, so that they can someday be independent and take care of their families.

The path to recovery is seldom linear. Thus, our programs are never time-limited. We see people through their ups and downs. If they stumble, our doors are always open and they come back, again and again. And we don’t close the door when they’ve finished a course of treatment. We are here for as long as any individual and family needs us.

Recovery is incredibly hard work for anyone. Perhaps those who must work the hardest were born into homes where drinking and drug use were part of family life. They may have never learned the skills needed for successful futures. For them, addiction was normalized. Now in recovery, they must end life-long behaviors that enabled their addiction, and learn new behaviors for a healthier life.

These men and women are the true champions of recovery and reinforce what we all know: To end the disease of addiction, we as a community must address childhood poverty and trauma, and help families raise physically and emotionally healthy children.

Some of the people in our care receive help from unsung heroes in our business community who employ them as part of their recovery. Our clients not only gain invaluable work experience, they are also contributing to the success of the individual businesses and the overall Berkshire economy in a very tight labor market.

Recovery is complicated and challenging – perhaps the greatest challenge that someone with mental illness and/or addiction will ever face. When they finally triumph – an extraordinary achievement – they celebrate quietly because of the shame and stigma associated with their disease.

We hope that National Recovery Month will soon be a time when individuals and families can feel more at ease speaking openly about their recovery, and that our community will celebrate with them.

  1. Christine Macbeth, ACSW, LICSW, is President and CEO of the Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Megan Eldridge Wroldson, LICSW, is Division Director of Adult and Family Services at the Brien Center.