UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — September marks National Recovery Month, and Penn State University is working to reduce the stigma surrounding recovery from substance use disorders.

Professors, scholars and officials from across the country gathered in State College for the university’s first stigma reduction summit.

“This could be anyone,” Penn State Criminal Justice Research Assistant Erin Bergner said. “This could be someone you love. This could be something that happens at any point in life and these are literally individuals just like us.”

Attendees gathered to bring awareness to substance use disorders while working to highlight ways to break down stigmas attached to these illnesses.

“Our goal here is to take the work that we’re doing here amongst this group of people, connect it to a much larger national conversation and really start to think about how it is we can explore and maintain stigma reduction initiatives across the country,” Glenn Sterner, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Penn State, said.

The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 40.3 million people ages 12 and up identified as having a substance use disorder. The survey also found more than four out of five Americans who need treatment for substance use do not receive it.

Organized by The Penn State Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction, the event highlighted real stories from those affected by substance use disorders.

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“We see statistics all the time about how many people have an opioid use disorder, how many people we’ve lost to substance epidemic,” Bergner said. “But we don’t really get to know these people that we’re losing and we’re hearing about. With our platform that’s something that we’re able to provide.”