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Local events celebrate successful recoveries from drug addiction

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In partnership with various community organizations, the Aroostook Mental Health Center will host a month of events in September to celebrate the achievements of people in recovery from drug abuse.

National Recovery Month, held annually in September, recognizes the millions of people across the country who have made personal strides in their journeys toward a drug-free life. In Aroostook County, the month-long events will kick off with a candlelight vigil on Thursday, Aug. 30, on Sweden Street in Caribou after the final Thursdays on Sweden Street block party for the summer.

The vigil will be co-hosted by AMHC, Cary Medical Center and Recovery Aroostook and will feature speakers Dave and Shelly Yankowski, a couple from the Bangor area who lost both their sons to heroin overdoses within a 10-month period this past year. Participants will stand in silence to recognize the 418 people who died from opioid overdoses in Maine in 2017 and will correspond with International Overdose Awareness Day.

On Sept. 9, AMHC will host their annual Alumni Recovery Reunion at “The Farm,” their residential treatment facility in Limestone, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Another annual gathering, Recovery Rocks, will take place at the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 22 and feature music entertainment from Travis Cyr, a free picnic and barbecue and crafts. AMHC sponsors the event in conjunction with Life By Design, Recovery Aroostook and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs Health Clinic.

Both the reunion and Recovery Rocks will feature guest speakers, people who have survived drug addiction recovery and are actively working toward greater personal growth and professional opportunities for themselves and their families. Pete McCorison, licensed clinical social worker and director of AMHC’s behavioral health services, said the list of guest speakers has yet to be finalized.

In the St. John Valley, AMHC will partner with the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Fish River Rural Health, Paradis Shop and Save, Life By Design, Recovery Aroostook and Aroostook County Action Program to host a recovery celebration at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center on September 15. The free event will begin at 11 a.m. and feature a barbecue meal, children’s activities and hiking as well as guest speakers who will share their experiences of recovery and hopes for the future.

McCorison said he hopes that the recovery celebrations will not only make people aware of how drug abuse affects both addicts and loves ones but also share in the strength that individuals can gain from the recovery process.

“Quite often we hear stories on the news of people who overdose from drugs but then the stories of those in recovery become invisible,” McCorison said. “The reality is that addiction is a battle that is being won everyday by people in our community. It’s a daunting task but people are working hard to combat those challenges and change their lives for the better.”

For more information about the National Recovery Month events, please contact McCorison at 498-6431.

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