To live a healthy lifestyle is not only about being responsible for taking care of one’s self but also to have awareness of others in our lives with special needs — our family, friends and members of our community.

September is National Recovery Month, an observation sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of our federal government in unison with individuals, families and agencies across the country.

Everywhere people are in recovery from mental illness and/or substance use disorders. They are friends, family members and members of the community. Many may not realize the struggle that those in recovery are going through, or have gone through, yet they are a part of our lives and community.

In 2010, 31.3 million American adults age 18 or older received services for mental health problems, and 2.6 million Americans age 12 or older received treatment for an alcohol or drug problem. There are, no doubt, many others with similar problems who fall outside of these numbers for a variety of reasons.

Alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness can be treated and when these disorders are overcome, those in recovery celebrate every day with a renewed hope and inspiration. Now in its 23rd year, National Recovery Month is an observance that helps Americans to understand that people with an addiction disorder or mental illness can and do recover to live healthy, productive lives. Recovery is no longer a rare occurrence.

Estimates say that there are now over 20 million who are in recovery. National Recovery Month is a time to recognize and emphasize that behavioral health also includes prevention of such disorders through healthy lifestyles and increased awareness of risk factors that can lead to substance abuse, depression, or worse. It also presents an opportunity for everyone to get involved.

To live a healthy lifestyle is not only about being responsible for taking care of one’s self but also to have awareness of others in our lives with special needs — our family, friends and members of our community.

Glen Johnson, MPA, is an environmental prevention specialist with the Council on Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes, based in Geneva, N.Y.