ST. GEORGE – Approximately 200 people gathered at Pioneer Park Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to remember friends and loved ones lost to the disease of addiction, as well as to celebrate the liberation of addiction recovery and to show support for those who fight daily to maintain it.
Organized by the Adult Substance Use Disorder Alumni of the Southwest Behavioral Health Center, the candlelight vigil is the second of its kind held by the group.
“We’re just here to remember those we’ve lost from addiction and to support recovery, (and) show people that there is hope,” said David Sorensen, the chair of Southwest Behavioral Health Center’s drug court mentor program.
The message of hope was brought to those dealing with addiction by the attendance of other people at the event who are in long-term recovery and leading productive lives.
One of those people is Braden “B Sully” Sullivan, a graduate of the drug court program and local rapper and hip hop artist. He was invited to perform at the event where he shared some of his music, including songs centered on recovery.
Sullivan said he was there was to help show others that it’s possible to be in recovery and have fun.
“When you’re in addiction and when you’re an alcoholic, you kind of get sober and think life is gonna suck now and be boring,” Sullivan said. “I like to show people that’s not the case, because I felt that way when I first got sober.”
Sullivan spent seven years in addiction and found himself on and off probation throughout that time. The situation was getting so bad, he said, that he was on the road to overdosing and committing suicide. Instead, he was arrested.
“God gave me a second chance, and I got accepted into drug court,” he said.
Now over three years sober, Sullivan shares his music and his story.
“I like to share my story now,” he said. “Before, I was ashamed of it.”
Sullivan, along with fellow hip hop artist Brian Coleman, opened the event while the sun slowly sank below the horizon. Once they concluded, the crowd made its way up a path marked by candles leading to a nearby amphitheater in the rocks.
Candles were held by many in the group as they sat around a fire and listened to speakers share how they could help those with addiction and get help if they were addicts themselves. The topic of suicide was also addressed, including ways to recognize the possible signs of someone contemplating it.
“(Addiction) is such a big part of everybody’s life,” Sahara Buehner, a drug court mentor, said. “It’s not just the addict. It’s their family, it’s their kids, it’s their friends – it’s everybody.
“It brings so much joy to my heart to know there are people fighting and winning (against) addiction and they’re here tonight,” Buehner added. “I’m very grateful to be a part of that.”
For those dealing with addiction, the Southwest Behavioral Health Center offers substance abuse treatment for both youth and adults.
The Southwest Behavioral Health Center is located 474 W. 200 North, St. George, and can be reached at 435-634-5600.
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