Recovery month comes to an end with a food-, music- and fun-filled celebration today to mark the close of the second annual local campaign to increase awareness and decrease the stigma of addiction and recovery.
The entire community is encouraged to attend the gathering, which will be held at the front of Bishop City Park from 5:30-8 p.m. today, celebrating the end of National Recovery Month 2012, Join the Voices for Recovery: It’s Worth It.
There will be no agenda, no speakers and no information booths. “The whole point is to come and eat barbecue, listen to music (…by Stan Summer’s band…) and have fun celebrating recovery,” explained Karen Kong, of Inyo County Health and Human Services Prevention Program, who is also an Inyo County Addictions Task Force member.
This celebration is intended to show people in short and long-term recovery that the community values them and recognizes their achievements in getting into recovery,” said Kong. It’s all about “honoring clean and sober people in our community,” she said.
The celebration at the Park is also for people still in their addiction, said Kong, so they can see that recovery is possible. And it’s fun, said Kong. “We were thrilled with the turn out last year,” she said, reporting an attendance of 120 individuals and families. “The band played until the band got tired. We stayed out an extra hour, ‘til 9 p.m. last year, we were having so much fun.”
If anonymity is a concern, “come out and enjoy; no one will be asked to stand up and be counted,” no one will be identified as an addict or alcoholic or as being in recovery, explained Kong.
“People often think certain things about recovery and addicted people. The community has a feeling for what (active) addiction looks like but not what recovery, after six months or five or 10 years, looks like,” said Kong. If they don’t already know, this celebration will give the community a chance to appreciate that people in recovery are contributing members of society now, she said.
That said, a very supportive local business community is footing the bill for “80-90 percent of what people will be seeing, hearing and eating” at today’s gathering, said Kong. The band is donating their time, restaurants are donating the salads and meats, and so on.
This is a good event for medical, mental health and law enforcement professionals, too, said Kong. “Anyone can come whether they deal with addiction or not. It touches all of us indirectly.” Look around, she added, and “you’ll see that everyone really is affected.”
This culminating event honors addicts and the community that supports their recovery but the party also celebrates all of the “public interest pieces that have made the whole month a three-pronged” campaign: education, humanizing and celebrating recovery, said Kong.
Some of those “public interest pieces,” published in The Inyo Register by HHS include humanizing, personal testimonies: “Voices of Young People in Recovery,” “Women in Recovery Share Their Stories” and “Stories of Recovery.” The educational myth-busters include “Myths and Truths about Addiction, Alcoholism,” “Crossing the Line from Use to Abuse,” and “Women in Recovery.”
Community awareness articles include “Faith Community Supporting Recovery,” “Facing the Stigma,” “How Does Addiction Affect Children,” and “Family Impacts,” which is in today’s issue.
The final National Recovery Month installment, “Don’t Let Relapse Keep you Down,” will be in this Saturday’s issue of The Inyo Register.
“We definitely intend to do this again next year,” said Kong of the month-long addiction- and sobriety-awareness recovery month activities and informational outreach co-coordinated by Inyo County Probation, Health and Human Services and Superior Court and Alpine Center for Counseling and Recovery.
If people have their own stories or family stories” Kong encourages submission, if people have their own stories or of their families, email them to Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org  or drop them off at HHS, 163 May St., Bishop, CA 93514. “I’ll keep on file for next year.”
For more recovery and recovery services information, call Kong at (760) 872-4245 or Substance Use Disorder Supervisor Merry Brown at (760) 873-5888, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. – the office is closed for lunch from noon-1 p.m.