Lights of Hope event fo­cuses on over­com­ing ad­dic­tion

Record Observer - - Religion - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­

CH­ESTER — Septem­ber is ob­served as Na­tional Recovery Month. On Satur­day evening, Sept. 10, Kent Is­land United Methodist Church’s Cel­e­brate Recovery pro­gram hosted a Lights of Hope meet­ing, at­tempt­ing to en­lighten the pub­lic about hard­ships of drug and alcohol ad­dic­tions and the chal­lenges to over­come them.

The Lights of Hope ses­sion was or­ga­nized by The Ad­dict’s Mom lo­cal vol­un­teer ad­min­is­tra­tor Barb Hunter.

She boldly said, “In­car­cer­a­tion is not the an­swer!”

As a par­ent with a fam­ily mem­ber who is a re­cov­er­ing ad­dict, she added, “When my rel­a­tive was in­car­cer­ated, he did noth­ing while he was locked up. He just sat there. They had no treat­ment, no ed­u­ca­tion, no re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion for him while he was locked up, noth­ing.”

She said she didn’t mean in­car­cer­a­tion shouldn’t be a step in the recovery process, how­ever, “just lock­ing peo­ple up isn’t a cure.”

Lights of Hope is an at­tempt to put a na­tional spot­light on ad­dic­tions, par­tic­u­larly heroin, which has been an epi­demic rav­aging the na­tion the past sev­eral years.

“This is not the same heroin that was dis­trib­uted 20 years ago,” Hunter said. “It’s now laced with other things that can kill peo­ple with the very first use,” and in many cases that’s what’s hap­pen­ing.

Eight dif­fer­ent speak­ers ad­dressed the au­di­ence: Sally Eisel, Lore­lie Roz­zano, Anna Fox, Mau­reen Fitz­patrick, Alan H. An­thony, Dr. Gary Sprouse, Ms. Lou Diviney, and Joseph “Joe Brat” McBrat­ney. The event was held out­side on the front lawn of the church. Each speaker shared per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences from ei­ther their own ad­dic­tions or as par­ents of chil­dren who had been ad­dicted.

Lore­lie Roz­zano was the first to speak at length about how she be­came ad­dicted and how heroin ad­dic­tion changed her from a child who once dreamed of be­com­ing a lov­ing mother to a per­son who was to­tally self-ab­sorbed and blam­ing the world for her own self­in­flicted prob­lems from drug abuse.

“I couldn’t stop,” she said. “Logic was not part of the equa­tion for me to break the habit.”

She added, “I be­gan drink­ing and smok­ing pot when I was 13.”

She said she came from a home with an al­co­holic par­ent. While many ad­dicts may have above av­er­age IQ’s, that doesn’t help the prob­lem when you’re ad­dicted, she added.

“Mine is not an un­usual story,” Roz­zano said.”Heroin doesn’t care what your prob­lems are, and the prob­lem isn’t go­ing to stop for any ad­dict un­til you de­cide ‘I’m ready to make it stop’ — and that can’t hap­pen alone.”

Anna Fox said, “Heroin changed me. I stole from my par­ents to feed my ad­dic­tion.”

“I shared with my best friend her first line of heroin,” she said. “One month later, my friend was dead. We went to her fu­neral, and im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards, used her death as an ex­cuse to use more heroin. I felt help­less. When I told my par­ents I needed help, they didn’t know what to do.”

Even­tu­ally, Fox was ar­rested. Through much ef­fort and a num­ber of pro­grams, one be­ing the Cel­e­brate Recovery pro­gram at KIUMC that meets ev­ery Wed­nes­day evening at 7 p.m., Anna has been clean for the past 10 years. But, she said, “A small piece of me has an ad­dict’s men­tal­ity. When I came here to the church, I was a mess. I’m grate­ful for Cel­e­brate Re­cover y.”

Sev­eral par­ents spoke about the night­mare of deal­ing with their chil­dren’s ad­dic­tions, in­clud­ing sto­ries of chil­dren who died. A com­mon theme among the par­ents was the use of what’s called “tough love.” Ad­dicts de­velop a “don’t care at­ti­tude” about any­thing ex­cept feed­ing and pre­serv­ing their ad­dic­tions, they said.

One speaker said, “Tough love is still love! If you dis­cover drugs in your child’s room, call the po­lice and tell the child, don’t call me for any­thing un­til you’ve com­pleted re­hab, and then af­ter you’ve com­pleted it, call and tell me you’re ready to come home”. If that sounds tough, it’s much more dif­fi­cult to be told your child is dead from over­dos­ing on heroin.”

Dr. Gary Sprouse men­tioned a num­ber of his pa­tients dis­cuss their drug ad­dic­tions with him per­son­ally. He did not men­tion any­one’s name, but quoted an alarm­ing statis­tic, “Only about 20 per­cent of all ad­dicts who go through re­hab, ac­tu­ally suc­ceed the first go through. I don’t think we’re look­ing at ad­dic­tions the right way.” He re­ferred to ad­dic­tions com­ing about from stress and us­ing a drug as an at­tempt to deal with that stress.

The fi­nal speaker, Joe McBrat­ney, who flew in from New York, said, “If you know some­one who is us­ing drugs, don’t give them a choice about get­ting treat­ment. Don’t lis­ten to them say ‘I’ll go af­ter the week­end, I just want to get high one more time’ — Have you ever heard some­one say that? If you do that, they’ll prob­a­bly be dead. Giv­ing them a choice is like ask­ing a full-grown tree to re­lo­cate on the other side of a park­ing lot — it isn’t go­ing to hap­pen. Re­mem­ber ac­tor Car­roll O’Con­nor, played Archie Bunker? His grown son died from drug ad­dic­tion. O’Con­nor said, ‘Do what­ever you have to do to get be­tween your child and drugs!’ Call 911, and tell your child you’ll come and get them af­ter they’ve com­pleted re­hab.”

Hunter said, “We need to let peo­ple, es­pe­cially par­ents, know there is help out here. Many peo­ple are sim­ply un­aware what to do or where to go. Peo­ple are ashamed, but that’s not go­ing to stop the prob­lem. We just lost an­other lo­cal girl last week­end who over­dosed. Get out of the shad­ows and do some­thing.”


The Cel­e­brate Recovery pro­gram par­tic­i­pants, from the left, Mis­stress of Cer­e­monies and The Ad­dicts Mom ac­tivist Sally Eisel, speak­ers Alan H. An­thony, Lore­lie Roz­zano, Mau­reen Fitz­patrick, Dr. Gary Sprouse, Joseph “Joe Brat” McBrat­ney, event or­ga­nizer Barbi Hunter and The Ad­dict’s Mom rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dawn Criste. The speak­ers told of their ex­pe­ri­ences in at­tempt­ing to help peo­ple who are drug or alcohol ad­dicts, and their thoughts on what can be done to help Satur­day evening, Sept. 10, at Kent Is­land United Methodist Church in Ch­ester. For in­for­ma­tion about a sup­port group, call Cathy Timms at 410-643-6520.

Shown are part of the crowd that turned out for the Lights of Hope recovery pro­gram Satur­day evening, Sept. 10, on the lawn at Kent Is­land United Methodist Church.

The Cel­e­brate Re­cover Band, from left, key­boardist He­len Stamm, guitarist Don McNi­cholas, drum­mer Frank Stamm, bass guitarist Kurt Musser, and rhythm guitarist Cathy Timms, played con­tem­po­rary Chris­tian music through­out the pro­gram Satur­day evening, Sept. 10, at Kent Is­land United Methodist Church. The Cel­e­brate Recovery pro­gram meets at 7 p.m. ev­ery Wed­nes­day at the church, where the band reg­u­larly per­forms.

Cel­e­brate Recovery meets ev­ery Wed­nes­day evening at Kent Is­land United Methodist Church in Ch­ester, be­gin­ning at 7 p.m., to pro­vide sup­port for peo­ple want­ing to over­come sub­stance ad­dic­tions. For in­for­ma­tion, call Cathy Timms at 410-643-6520.

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