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A full year has passed since determined community members announced their intention to make a difference in the lives of residents recovering from addiction, and in the community as a whole.
With the arrival of this anniversary comes another opportunity to help those trying to combat the diseases of drug and alcohol abuse in Inyo County. The group with the goal of reducing the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on the community by 2020, known as Cut the Effects of Substance Abuse, or CESA, will be holding its second annual dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 15 to honor those who have graduated from Drug Court in 2011.
The dinner is more than just an evening of praise, said Caddy Jackson, CESA organizer, retired pastor of the United Methodist Church in Bishop and founder of Spirit of Recovery, under which CESA operates. Jackson said the dinner is also a forum for those in recovery to share their story with the community and for the community to learn about the struggles of addiction from those living through it.
Allowing those in recovery to be a part of a program that helps others and allowing them to share their stories with fellow addicts as well as to those who do not know recovery or addiction is cathartic for the person in recovery, Jackson said. And, he said, it is educational for those hearing the stories. Empathy and understanding are key to recovery, Jackson said.
The dinner is also a fundraiser, with proceeds from ticket sales going towards supporting a faith-based sober living program.
The goal of CESA and Spirit of Recovery is to reduce the effects of substance abuse in the county by half by 2020. Jackson explained that addiction permeates every aspect of someoneâ€™s life and the community. He said there is a vast amount of resources spent on the effects of addiction, from emergency room visits to divorce and domestic violence, petty and employee theft and lack of focus and progress in children who live with addicts.
â€śIf we can effectively reduce addiction by 50 percent,â€ť Jackson said, â€śwe can transform this community.â€ť
Jackson has been involved in the recovery community for many years and started the Spirit of Recovery program at the church before he retired. The CESA program is a part of the Spirit of Recovery but with an emphasis on sober living â€“ for the individual and for the family, Jackson said.
A major project for CESA is a faith-based sober living program, helping to provide housing and a leg-up for those in recovery. The majority of those who have taken advantage of the program are Inyo County Drug Court participants. Drug Court is an alternative to incarceration for repeat drug and alcohol offenders, but demands participants be highly involved in and dedicated to recovery. Drug Court, in cooperation with Inyo County Probation, also drug tests participants regularly and provides ample counseling opportunities. Jackson said the CESA now only accepts Drug Court participants for its sober-living programs.
Drug Court demands such a high level of dedication to recovery that everything else in a personâ€™s life can take a back seat to that rehabilitation, sometimes even family. Jackson explained that this is where recovering addicts come onto the scene. He said successful participants of the program are sometimes brought in to share stories and struggles of addiction with family members. He says it is healing for those in recovery to share and those listening can have a greater understanding of addiction and its many side-effects. Jackson said he knows there is a big contingent of family members of addicts that are seeking help with how to cope with and understand the disease of addiction.
CESA is also working on helping with another â€śmajor challengeâ€ť facing recovering addicts and those fresh out of jail or prison â€“ finding a job. Jackson said he hopes CESA can act as a liaison between those in the program and those in the community looking for manual labor. Active employment is good experience for those in the program who may need some help with work ethics. Active employment is also a requisite of Drug Court.
The work experience is also valuable for the folks doing the hiring as they gain a greater understanding and empathy for recovering addicts.
CESA is part of the United Methodist Social Services program whose ministries include the Friendship Center, Soup Kitchen/â€śJoin Us For Lunch,â€ť Spirit of Recovery, and Independent Living. CESA also has a council comprised mostly of people in recovery.
â€śMy philosophy is that the best resource we have are the people that have gone through being an addict and recovery,â€ť Jackson said.
Cut the Effects of Substance Abuse will celebrate recent graduates of Drug Court and hear from special guest speakers starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at the Methodist Center, 205 N. Fowler St., Bishop. Dinner is just $20, â€śbut, if someone wants to give more, thatâ€™s OK, too,â€ť Jackson said.
For more information or to reserve tickets, call Jackson at (760) 920-3485 or Barbara Crockett at (760) 872-3511. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.