Wednesday, December 07, 2016


The season is upon us. During the holiday season we are reminded to be grateful. I know that all too often in my 40+ years working in the field of addiction, I am often aware of all of the deficiencies that exist. However, in thinking about gratitude in relation to the addiction field, I realized that there are in fact many things to be grateful for that have occurred, particularly in the last decade.

First and foremost are some of the advances that have been made in the area of understanding brain chemistry as it relates to addictive illness. NCADD has been fighting stigma since it's inception over 70 years ago.  The struggle to have addiction accepted as an illness, as opposed to a moral or criminal issue, has been helped immeasurably by beginning to understand the mechanisms in the brain that results in a variety of addictions.  We obviously have a long way to go in discovering how those brain mechanisms work, but the awareness of their existence has helped to move addiction away from criminal justice and into public health.

Another major shift has been the gradual awareness that addiction is a chronic disease, similar to hypertension or diabetes, and that a response must include a continuum of services. In the past we have focused on "treatment". This had led to looking at discrete single episodes of care as opposed to a continuum. We now realized that beyond treatment, recovery supports are necessary for an individual to sustain the efforts that are made to get better. We have seen the creation of recovery support centers, as well as recovery community organizations. This ongoing continuum of care should be helpful to individuals seeking recovery.

And finally, the whole notion of "recovery" has moved the emphasis from illness and treatment to wellness and recovery.   This is a major paradigm shift that more accurately represents the process of getting better, or recovering, from addictive illness.  I believe this is very beneficial to individuals struggling to find a way out of addiction. It focuses on positive change and accomplishments that help to motivate an individual to continue on the path of recovery.

So while we do have a long way to go in understanding the nature and science of addiction, I do believe that there have been advances that have moved us forward in our battle against that disease. And for that I am grateful.

Wayne E. Wirta 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month is held every September 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. Recovery Month is sponsored by SAMHSA and recognized by the President of the United States of America.

Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

There are millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery. Since these successes often go unnoticed by the broader population, Recovery Month provides a vehicle for everyone to celebrate these accomplishments. Each September, tens of thousands of prevention, treatment, and recovery programs and facilities around the country celebrate National Recovery Month. They speak about the gains made by those in recovery and share their success stories with their neighbors, friends, and colleagues. In doing so, everyone helps to increase awareness and furthers a greater understanding about the diseases of mental and substance use disorders. Now in its twenty-seventh year, Recovery Month highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible. Recovery Month also promotes the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible and encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those in need.

Here in New Jersey, NCADD-NJ was excited to be involved in 20+ Recovery Month events. To see upcoming events check our organization’s calendar or to get involved with our Advocacy Leadership Program please contact: