September 10, 2012 9:27:35 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Drug and alcohol addiction is something that is usually associated with darkness, pain and tragedy. But an upcoming fundraiser in Starkville hopes to not only diminish some of the social stigmas surrounding addiction, but to do so in a fun-filled, family-friendly environment.
Recovery Day will be held Saturday from noon-to-4 p.m. at the Sportsplex. The event, part of National Drug and Alcohol Recovery Month, hopes to raise money for a good cause and become an annual event.
"We will have a number of speakers -- both people who are in recovery and their parents," said Michael Valentine, executive director of the Starkville-based Golden Triangle Recovery Center. "There will also be some field-day type events that will place regional law enforcement agencies against one another. There will also be live music and activities for the children."
Valentine said the children of addicts are the focal point of the inaugural festivities.
"Our T-shirts are aimed at the 20-percent of children who live in homes with addicted parents," he said.
The special day will also benefit the Recovery Fund, a special project being implemented to help those who can't afford treatment. With rehab costs starting at $2,000 and up for a minimum of 30 days of inpatient or outpatient treatment, Valentine said many people who want to make changes in their lives find treatment cost-prohibitive.
"The latest data I have shows of those who are addicted, 95 percent are not yet at a point where they want to go to treatment," Valentine said. "The statistics say that 60 percent of those who want treatment can't afford it and can't get the help they want. There is a fund that is being set up that is a loan program that will be coordinated through a local bank. We are trying to raise money as collateral for the loan."
According to Valentine, the loans will be zero-interest loans. The loans can only be used for a treatment program.
"We've set up a point system based on who should get the loans first," said Valentine. "The highest, most at-risk people are addicted mothers who are pregnant."
Also high on the point system are addicts facing prison time.
"It costs at least $20,000 a year to house an inmate," said Valentine. "We want to reach out to the people who are facing prison or are in the drug court system. Our goal is to help people who don't have the money to get into treatment."
Another aspect to Recovery Day is to help change some of the attitudes synonymous with addicts and addiction.
"I hope this will de-mystify addiction in some way," Valentine said. "People have a fear of addiction and they don't understand the addicts. They treat it differently than they do other medical conditions. People who have recovered from addiction are some of the strongest people in the world. I just want to put the word out that there is hope. Addicts aren't bad people, but people that need some behaviors to be changed."
Also during the month of September, the staff of Pines and Cady Hill (Community Counseling Services' residential Alcohol and Drug Treatment Facility located in downtown Columbus) will be raising awareness for the cause by offering free assessments.
For more information on Recovery Day, call Valentine at 662-324-2230. For more information on the free assessments, call 662-327-7916.