All around us in Oneida County, people are in recovery from mental health and/or substance use disorders. They are contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community.

But if we want more people to join them on a path of recovery, we need to become educated and take action. Too many people are still unaware that these conditions can be treated, just like we can treat other health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.

To further educate communities about the pathways to recovery and to support people in recovery, people throughout the nation celebrate National Recovery Month in September, an initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Individuals who embrace recovery achieve improved mental and physical health, as well as stronger relationships and a sense of self-worth. Mental and/or substance use disorders do not discriminate – they affect people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels.

 As most people are aware, we are in the midst of what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to as a “national epidemic” of opiate addiction. The costs in lost and ruined lives from this scourge continue to increase, with drug overdoses now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. People from all walks of life have been impacted, and they need to realize that help is available.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 27 million Americans, or 10.2 percent of the American population over the age of 12, reported using illicit drugs in 2014. Along with specialized drug treatment facilities, drug abuse and addiction are treated in physicians' offices and health clinics by a variety of providers, including counselors, physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers. Treatment is delivered inoutpatient, inpatient, and residential settings. Although specific treatment approaches often are associated with particular treatment settings, a variety of therapeutic interventions or services can be included in any given setting.

Individuals in treatment also need the support of a welcoming community to help them on their path of long-term recovery - it is critical that we continue to remove any stigma associated with mental and/or substance use disorders. Fortunately, more than 80 percent of Americans would think no less of a friend or relative if they discovered that person is in recovery. We owe it to our family, friends, and community to support treatment and recovery as effective ways to address these conditions. When doors are open to recovery, more people will seek treatment for substance use disorders to reclaim their lives and health.

Donna M. Vitagliano is president and chief executive officer at Insight House in Utica.