Sept. 30 marked the official end of National Recovery Month, but organizers are hoping the momentum generated by the month-long observance will continue throughout the year.
Dozens of residents and visitors showed up at the Bishop City Park Friday for a barbecue and party meant to celebrate alcohol- and drug-free lifestyles and to honor those in the community who have struggled with addition and are now leading sober lives.
The event was well-attended and well-received, according to organizers, who spent the past month spreading awareness of addiction issues and recovery efforts.
Throughout September, members of the Inyo County Addiction Task Force met with community groups, local officials and individuals to discuss addiction and recovery. The goal, organizers said, was to inform community members of their role in recovery, as a means of creating a united front in the ongoing battle against addiction.
Citizens who are in recovery shared their stories of addiction, getting clean and sober, and the impact both have had on their families and friends.
Inyo County Prevention Program Director Karen Kong said local community groups such as the Rotary Club were particularly interested in hearing from prevention specialists.
“This is a topic that isn’t generally brought up at meetings like this,” Kong said. “I think at first they were kind of taken aback, but I think they were really interested.”
The goal of the Communities United for Recovery campaign, Kong said, was to raise awareness of the supportive role citizens must play in the lives of those who are determined to get clean. From the business owner who gives a recovering addict a job opportunity, to the family that forgives, Kong said virtually everyone in the community can do something to show support for those in recovery.
“If you don’t know someone in recovery, you can just be supportive, be a helping hand,” Kong said.
Kong said that, as residents in recovery began submitting their stories to The Inyo Register for publication, more and more stories began coming in, and local prevention specialists began getting phone calls from residents asking questions about recovery and offering donations to help support programs that get citizens off drugs and help them to stay clean.
“In the beginning, we didn’t have very many people contacting us, but we got more and more as the month went on, and we’re still getting calls and stories,” Kong said. “I’m hoping the momentum is just building. Having a specific time to celebrate recovery is great, but in the back of my head, I want us to be so great at supporting recovery that we won’t need a designated month.”
While local treatment centers and treatment specialists have been receiving a lot of phone calls and answering questions about where and how resident can find help to get off drugs or alcohol, Kong said she has not seen or heard of people asking what they can do to support those in recovery, but hopes there are residents who want to get involved.
“We just haven’t had anyone that bold yet,” Kong said. “There are tons of ways people can get involved, business owners shouldn’t be afraid to hire people who are in recovery, because they’re working hard at it, and they’re just hard workers, people can volunteer at the Alpine Center, or Drug Court, or they can just call me to ask how to get involved.”
Those who would like to help keep the momentum from Communities United for Recovery rolling are invited to call Kong at (760) 872-4245.