Advocating recovery: Symposium stresses support
“Addiction is a problem that is very obvious, but the better thing to advocate is recovery,” Ginny Larue, speaker associated with the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, and self-proclaimed addict in recovery, said to a full house of similarly positioned individuals, medical specialists, and corporate representatives from multiple help and not-for-profit groups.
The symposium opened its doors at 9 a.m. at the Summit Church on Ben Hill Griffin, near Florida Gulf Coast University, and quickly had a steady route of foot traffic among booths that included Alcoholic Anonymous, Hazelden Betty Ford, Calusa Recovery, FADAA, and a dozen others.
“Recovery has allowed me to be a grandmother, a pet owner, a reliable representative for my aging parents, a citizen, and an amazing mother to my children who I had not always done the best by,” Larue continues in her opening speech.
The focus is recovery, not addiction, as is the common mantra among these groups.
Drug abuse and fatalities have risen in Southwest Florida in magnitudes since 2013, with a reported 955 opiate overdose deaths a year as recently as 2017, which means the number of purely drug related deaths are exponentially larger, according to a study done by Lee Health. This means a lot of people; neighbors, coworkers, peers, family members, and loved ones alike are all susceptible to the heartbreak and loss that these tragic, and unfortunately sometimes unavoidable, accidents can sow on a population.
A recovery community organization — RCO — is an independent, non-profit organization led and governed by representatives of local communities of recovery. RCOs organize recovery-focused policy advocacy activities, carry out recovery-focused community education and outreach programs, and/or provide peer-based recovery support services.
These are generally led by group efforts in concentration with focused corporate sponsorship, such as Hazelden Betty Ford, who sponsors not only individuals, but helps create not-for-profit groups to do their best in their communities for their neighbors.
“No one can deny the impact of abuse and addiction, but telling your story, your struggle is often so much more powerful and authentic than to rattle off a bunch of statistics,” said William C. Moyers, keynote speaker and representative of Hazelden Betty Ford to the crowd.
“It’s often the issue where people don’t know how, or when to ask for help, much less to whom. So, it’s our job to be the beacon of hope for these people, because they might not have the strength to fight addiction, much less struggle for a better life, or in some cases, life at all. It’s important for us to be the change and kind-heartedness we want to see, and that others desperately need,” Moyers continued to a symposium that didn’t have a dry eye in the place.