Several years ago, the faces and voices of recovery began to be seen and heard locally and around the nation, but this came at a great cost – lost brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, and mothers and fathers due to an opiate epidemic.

Cambria County made great progress saving lives in our communities through the efforts of Cambria County Drug and Alcohol Program, Highlands Health and the Cambria County Drug Coalition through Narcan distribution.

Narcan is an overdose reversal medication. Like Glucagon and Epinephrine, it has the sole purpose of saving lives – it does nothing to treat the disease or the disorder.

Saving these lives is the first step in allowing an individual to find recovery, but according to the U.S. Surgeon General report Facing Addiction in America, only 10% of people who need help access treatment.

Those who do receive help – 28 to 90 days of treatment – return home to a community offering very little natural support for sustaining recovery.

Recovery, like addiction, is contagious. It is made possible by people in recovery, their family members and recovery allies carrying the message that recovery is not only possible but expected. We must, as a community, become educated on the underlying conditions that lead a person to their addiction and address these issues.

There is a discomfort to speaking about drug and alcohol use, but if we want recovery to be the reality, we must get uncomfortable. COVID-19 has removed the spotlight from our nation’s substance use problem, and this pandemic has led to a spike in alcohol use and overdose deaths.

National Recovery Month, an annual celebration sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a national observance held every September with the goal of increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrating those in recovery.

Recovery is defined as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life and strive to reach their full potential.

Through this process, we discover self, implement principles to improve our interaction with others and use these principles in our decision-making process. We learn that resentments only hurt ourselves, the only person we can change is ourselves, and how to act out of love rather than fear.

As a community, we can learn a great deal from the principals of recovery by practicing honesty, open mindedness, humility, patience, generosity, acceptance, empathy and forgiveness. I fear that only by practicing these principles, our society will recover from the social unrest we find ourselves in.

Please join us in spreading the healing effects that recovery offers. Whether you are in recovery, seeking recovery for yourself or a loved one, or you want to become a recovery ally, we invite you to come be inspired and then be inspiring.

What is a recovery ally? A recovery ally understands that recovery is a lifelong process, believes that all people have potential, knows that human connection is a powerful tool for recovery, educates others to end stigma, understands addiction is not a choice, supports multiple paths to recovery, knows addiction does not discriminate, advocates for community resources that support recovery, and believes that through recovery, lost dreams awaken.

To celebrate National Recovery Month, Cambria County organizations and community members are joining together to host the fourth annual “Recovery in the Valley” event. This year, “Recovery in the Valley” will be held virtually on a Zoom meeting platform and will be streamed to Facebook Live.

Although this is not ideal, as recovery is about connection, we now have the ability to welcome a national leader in the recovery advocacy movement.

This year’s keynote speaker is Ryan Hampton, a person in long-term recovery, an author, a former White House staffer and part of the core team that worked on the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction in 2016.

We are also excited to highlight four local speakers’ recovery stories, followed by a Q & A panel discussion with our local speakers.

Guest musicians will participate throughout, including Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors. Donovan is a recovery advocate and former singer of Rusted Root.

“Recovery in the Valley” will be held virtually on Sept. 19th beginning at 3 p.m. Registration can be completed by visiting the Cambria County Drug Coalition’s Facebook page under “Recovery in the Valley” event or by accessing the following link.

“I would like to thank Magellan Healthcare, Cambria County, the Cambria County Drug Coalition and Behavioral Health of Cambria County for helping make my dream of a day to celebrate recovery in the community a reality.

Jason Rilogio is in long-term recovery, free from drugs and alcohol for 10 years. He is a certified peer specialist and recovery specialist with certification enhancements in forensic peer support and supporting veterans and their families. He also is chairman of the Drug Coalition’s Recovery Workgroup.

Recommended for you