Voices of Recovery: Prevention works, treatment is effective, recovery is possible

ST. GEORGE – Drug prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover is the positive message of hope being promoted throughout September for Recovery Awareness Month. St. George News invites you to follow our Voices of Recovery series throughout the month of September to hear personal stories of addiction, find out how and where to turn for help, along with how you can help those in need of recovery services.

“There’s not one of these people in treatment or the ones that are suffering,” Therápia Program Director Arden Smith said, “that when their kindergarten teacher asked them to stand up at the first of the year and say what you want to be, not one of these people stood up and said ‘I want to be an alcoholic or a drug addict.’ This is not who these people are.”

St. George Mayor Jon Pike attended a ribbon cutting ceremony to launch the “My name is …” campaign at Therapia Addiction Healing and Recovery Center, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
St. George Mayor Jon Pike attended a ribbon cutting ceremony to launch the “My name is …” campaign at Therapia Addiction Healing and Recovery Center, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

The month-long, nationwide observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health. It is held each year to educate communities that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those suffering from such disorders to live a healthy and rewarding life.

The first day of September also brought the launch of “My name is …,” a campaign designed to break the stigma about those in recovery. The campaign offers an opportunity for recovering addicts to proudly identify themselves, share their stories and be honored for their effort to live an addiction-free life.

“There are 22 and a half million Americans that suffer from the disease of addiction, and less than 10 percent of them are getting help today. Now, part of that reason is the stigma that comes with addiction,” Therápia Executive Director Ben Harris said, adding:

We’re trying to climb out of some dark ages and I think we’re making some great strides – great movement in the right direction. We’re starting to see people around the world who are willing to say ‘I’m an addict and I’m in recovery’ and starting to shed the shadows of shame.

A press conference marking the campaign launch took place at Therápia Addiction Healing and Recovery Center in St. George Tuesday with Sen. Stephen Urquhart, St. George City Mayor Jon Pike, Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher, Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap and Washington County Commissioners Alan Gardner, Zachary Renstrom and Victor Iverson, along with approximately 150 others in attendance to show their support.

Main thoroughfares in St. George are lined with the red ribbons and businesses throughout the communities will begin displaying red lights to show support for those in recovery for Recovery Awareness Month, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
Main thoroughfares in St. George are lined with the red ribbons and businesses throughout the communities will begin displaying red lights to show support for those in recovery for Recovery Awareness Month, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Together, the campaigns highlight the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery as well as honoring the treatment and recovery service providers who help make recovery possible.

While promoting the message that recovery in all of its forms is possible, Recovery Month also encourages citizens to take action to help expand and improve the availability of effective services for those in need.

“In my business we deal with addiction all the time. One of the things that’s very disappointing is that I don’t have the ability to offer resources to help fix those addictions,” Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said, adding that he’s thrilled with the Justice Reinvestment Initiative looking at treatment rather than incarceration for those with addiction.

“My facility does not provide what our family members need to overcome addictions,” Pulsipher said. “It’s still a necessary evil that’s out there but yet there are better ways that we can actually effect positive change, not only in individuals, but in our community, by the community coming together and being involved.”

Events are being held throughout the month where the community will have opportunities to do just that – raise money for recovery with all proceeds going towards helping those looking for opportunities to get into treatment.

On Thursday, Pike is scheduled to sign a proclamation declaring September “Recovery Awareness Month” for the St. George community.

Those wishing to support the cause may purchase a red $5 lightbulb from Wilkinson’s Lighting in St. George or campaign wristbands and red ribbons in The Red Zone at George, Streetfest, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
Those wishing to support the cause may purchase a red $5 lightbulb from Wilkinson’s Lighting in St. George or campaign wristbands and red ribbons in The Red Zone at George, Streetfest, St. George, Utah, Sept. 1, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“We’re only as strong as the weakest among us,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike reminded attendees.

In addition to the scheduled list of activities, those wishing to support the cause may purchase and display a red $5 lightbulb from Wilkinson’s Lighting in St. George, or campaign wristbands and red ribbons in The Red Zone at George, Streetfest on Friday.

“We want people to understand that there is hope,” Smith said, “that there is a way that they can get help, and they don’t have to keep it a dirty little secret anymore because it’s not; it’s an addiction, it’s a disease and there is help out there.”

Please follow the St. George News Voices of Recovery series throughout the month to hear inspiring stories of addiction recovery, learn more about substance addiction and find out how and where to turn for help.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • beentheredonethat September 3, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    WCSO should be saving taxpayers money bu checking “my name is” for warrants.

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