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The whole of September is Recovery Month, culminating in International Recovery Day on September 30.

The word ‘recovery’ refers to recovery from addictions. These may be addictions to alcohol, other drugs or behaviours that can be harmful if excessive. During Recovery Month, people in, or seeking, recovery remember, celebrate and advocate. They remember those who have lost their lives to addiction. They celebrate the achievements of those in or seeking recovery. They advocate for services and support for those in need, and they seek to draw attention to and address the social conditions in which addictions thrive.

While in 2020, much of the celebration moved online, in previous years, marking this event has involved walks through city centres, conferences, exhibitions, performances, jamborees in parks and religious services of thanksgiving.

The Chapel will be lit up in purple, the international colour of recovery. Purple is worn by people in recovery, their friends, families and allies, during Recovery Month as a sign of identification with the recovery movement.

Dr Wendy Dossett is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Chester. She is also Director of Research for Chester Studies of Addiction, Recovery and Spirituality Group, and Principal Investigator of the Higher Power Project, which explores the language of religion and spirituality in recovery from substance use disorders and other addictions.

She said: “One of the most significant barriers to recovery is stigma. Naming and celebrating recovery helps to counteract stigma and to address the shame which prevents people seeking help. Long-term recovery is a great achievement which takes considerable effort and should be celebrated. And there is so much to celebrate. People in recovery not only reap benefits for themselves, but also for their families and wider society. People in long-term recovery have a higher quality of life than the general population and are more likely than the general population to volunteer in their communities.”

Dr Dossett is also a member of a national working group exploring the idea of ‘Recovery-Friendly Universities’. She will be contributing from a University of Chester perspective to the National Recovery Campus Network meeting on October 18, among representatives from 16 UK universities, as well as Universities UK, the National Union of Students and political bodies.

She added: “I’m absolutely delighted that, once again, the University has decided to light the Chapel in purple for International Recovery Day. It’s an indication of the University’s awareness of this important element of the mental health agenda. It’s a powerful affirmation of staff and students who identify as being in recovery and a sign of support and solidarity with those seeking to address their issues. I am delighted that the University is at the vanguard of this fight against stigma and leading the way in making a university education more accessible to people in recovery.”

More information about Recovery Month celebrations can be found at: https://internationalrecoveryday.org/, https://rm.facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/ and http://www.facesandvoicesofrecoveryuk.org/.

The following organisations offer free support for addictions:

Alcoholics Anonymous (for problems with alcohol)

Narcotics Anonymous (for problems with all drugs)

Smart Recovery (for alcohol and other drug issues)

Al-Anon Family Groups (for family members and friends of people with substance issues)

AdFam (for family members and friends of people with substance issues)

Westminster Drug Project (local substance misuse services).

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