Hampton celebrates National Recovery Month with annual open forum

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

When we think of the month of September, usually our thoughts are centered around returning to school, the cost of textbooks and due dates. However, September is also notable for being National Recovery Month. This month is dedicated to the celebration of people recovering from substance abuse and to increasing awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.

In commemoration of National Recovery Month, Hampton University again partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to hold their annual open forum discussion in the Student Center Ballroom on Sept. 25. Led by the Graduate Department of Counseling, the forum consisted of several speakers who warned of the dangers of drug addiction. Several of the speakers identified themselves as former addicts who had made a life-changing decision to break away from their potentially fatal habits and wished to warn others to not make the same mistake as they did.

Why is National Recovery Month important? Basic health classes already teach that drugs are bad, so why have more?

“The purpose of National Recovery Month is to educate the population about substance abuse and addiction,” said Charlegmayne Gholson, a third-year school counseling graduate student from Hopewell, Virginia. “It’s an opportunity for people to engage in introspection and learn that we are no different from people who are addicted to illegal drugs. It’s a chance for people to understand what addiction is, and how to overcome it.”

Devan Turner, a second-year community mental health graduate student from Hampton, even goes a step further to share with us why she believes why it’s important to hold such an event at Hampton University.

“It is important to be aware that addiction can affect anybody, and an event like this emphasizes the importance of addiction counseling,” she said.

According to Travis Hall, executive director of the Youth Challenge Hope Center, and one of the guest speakers at this event, there are three components to drug addiction: a physical dependence, a spiritual dependence and a mental/psychological dependence on someone’s drug of choice. According to Hall, one in every eight kids in the United States grows up with an addicted parent. This strongly suggests that addiction is still a very pressing issue in today’s society, and that solving it isn’t as simple as just quitting all of a sudden one day; however, the decision to get help and the determination to quit are vital to the recovery process.

In fact, according to Hope Sinclair, owner of Hope Experts LLC, relapse occurs up to eight times in patients, on average, before they finally manage to break the addiction. The panelists with drug-related pasts shared their own personal stories, what led them to their predicament and then what ultimately led to them making the decision to break away from such a perilous lifestyle. Across the board, they advised people to avoid drugs and other substances altogether. Anything could become an addiction if depended on constantly.

To end the event, Dr. Saundra Cherry, associate professor for the Graduate Department of Counseling, had a few choice words of advice for any students who may be suffering from addiction and are not sure where to turn to next: “We would strongly recommend that our students seek help from our Student Counseling Center, so that they can be directed to whatever resources needed, either on campus or off campus, to help them with their addiction.”

One big takeaway from the event: Recovery must start with a decision—the decision to quit.

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