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Addiction in Franklin County

Recover Project celebrates 10 years

GREENFIELD — September is recovery month, nationally and locally, and the Recover Project is taking the opportunity to celebrate 10 years of fighting addiction.

The Recover Project is a peer-to-peer addiction recovery program, the first of its kind in the state.

The nonprofit brings together people in all stages of addiction and recovery in its Federal Street office on the theory that it is possible to overcome any addiction and that those already recovering are a valuable resource for one another and for those who have not yet begun down that path.

Reflected in its storefront window at the corner of Federal and Osgood streets decorated with photographs of members, the project has another goal in uniting people in recovery, supporting change at the individual level through mutual support and at the societal level through a united and public voice.

“There are 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery, and that’s powerful if we stop using the tradition of anonymity,” said Director Linda Sarage. “We can become a powerful voice, a force for policy changes that really remove barriers to recovery.”

Beyond a lack of health resources and the addiction itself, obstacles include laws and policies that marginalize recovering addicts by restricting access to housing or student loans based on past drug offenses, and the stigma of addiction.

“The more we can reduce the stigma of this disease of addiction the easier it is for the next person to walk in the door and get what they need,” Sarage said.

Walking in the door is more than a figure of speech for the project, whose members take turns at the front desk during regular business hours every day but Wednesday, when the doors open at 1 p.m. A handful of members can almost always be found inside, and numbers swell for the weekly All Recovery meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and a slate of support groups targeted at all facets of recovery.

While openness about addiction is a significant element of the project’s philosophy, confidentiality is also respected.

Outside of business hours, the space hosts unaffiliated Alcoholics Anonymous and similar program meetings.

Special events this month include a group training in the life-saving opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone last week, a screening of documentary film “The Anonymous People” next week at Greenfield Garden Cinemas and the annual Recovery Jam concert, free this year in celebration of the anniversary.

The sober event will take over Camp Kee-wanee on Sept. 28 from noon to 8 p.m. with music and a barbecue.

Sarage said the project usually covers the cost of the annual celebration through ticket sales, but members raised enough money this year for a free festival.

The documentary takes aim at the conflicting phenomena of silence and mass-media sensationalism surrounding addiction. Tickets, $10, may be purchased through a link on the Recover Project website, recoverproject.org.

The World Eye Bookshop, 156 Main St., has also selected the Recover Project to benefit from its revolving monthly fundraiser, with 10 percent of September sales from the psychology section going to the project.

The Recover Project began this month in 2003 with a $1.3 million grant to the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and has remained in operation with money from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, grants, donations and fundraisers.

Sarage said the project now has about 100 members on paper and an active core of 30 to 40 people.

Community and purpose are the two key elements of recovery, Sarage said, and the project offers many opportunities for people to develop skills, find a purpose and contribute to the project community, their families and the greater community.

Acts scheduled for the Recovery Jam include Selfish Steam and Blacktop Kenny, the barbecue runs from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and attendees are asked to bring canned goods or other non-perishables for the food pantry.

The camp is located at 1 Health Camp Road, off Leyden Road near Eunice Williams Drive.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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