VANCOUVER — Organizers of Recovery Day, an annual event held in 25 cities across Canada to celebrate overcoming addiction, are hoping the federal government will proclaim a Recovery Month, to further raise awareness about the disease.
As loud electronic music boomed from Queen Elizabeth Plaza in downtown Vancouver on Saturday, dozens of recovering addicts and their supporters gathered for the city’s third annual Recovery Day, before marching to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Among them was park board vice chair Constance Barnes, whose own struggle with alcohol addiction was thrown into the spotlight five years ago when she was arrested for drinking and driving.
”So many people are still in hiding because of the stigma. It’s brutal. This is a disease just like any other,” said Barnes, adding she would like to see a centre for excellence for addiction built in Vancouver.
“Recovery can be from anything — food, bulimia, sex, porn — it’s not just alcohol and drugs.”
In 2009, Barnes was arrested outside of a home in south Vancouver after she fell asleep at the wheel and hit a residential home. She later issued a statement, apologizing for her actions, which had followed a time of “deep personal struggle.”
She has since received help and counselling that looks at the genealogy of family addiction. At the Orchard Recovery and Treatment Center on Bowen Island, Barnes said she found the therapy enlightening, and also discovered that she was predisposed to the disease.
Barnes, who is seeking the federal NDP nomination in Vancouver Centre, said by speaking out about addiction, she hopes more people will feel comfortable talking about it with friends, family and coworkers.
“We still don’t ask whether this is a disease and we need to be asking that question.”
Recovery Day spokeswoman Lorinda Strang said 25 cities across Canada are holding similar events, but at different times of the month.
“This is about hope. It’s about freedom. It’s about courage and perseverance, everything that it means to be in recovery,” she said. “We are not aligned with any one group, but we want people to know there are many ways to get into recovery. Whatever the path, the ultimate goal is freedom from addiction.”
In 2012, Mayor Gregor Robertson proclaimed Recovery Day in conjunction with Vancouver resident David Berner, executive director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.
The U.S. government recognizes September as Recovery Month, and Strang, who is also the executive director of Orchard Recovery and Treatment Center, said they will be asking the federal government to do something similar here in Canada.
by Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun