Getting over addiction

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a devastating problem in the U.S., and overcoming it is no easy task.

Now, Central New Yorkers in recovery have another resource to rely on.
Friends of Recovery is an organization founded to provide an outlet and networking opportunities to those recovering from addiction. Formed in 2007, the local affiliate of the national organization states as its mission to “provide social, recreational and educational activities to support people in recovery as well as their families and friends.”

“There are people in recovery in all walks of life,” said Kimberly Sacco, executive director of the Syracuse-Onondaga Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, one of the partners in Friends of Recovery. “We want to provide as many resources as we can in the community.”

Friends of Recovery is the result of a collaboration between numerous community organizations, including the Syracuse-Onondaga Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, the Prevention Network, Crouse Hospital, Syracuse Teen Challenge, Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center, Rescue Mission, Altamont Treatment and the Center for Community Alternatives.

“It’s really a community collaboration,” Sacco said. “A lot of different groups work together to make it happen.”

The group, which is free, is open to everyone, whether they are recovering from addiction, have a family member or friend in recovery or just want to help out with events, mailings and other activities.
“It’s open to anybody who wants to be a part of that support system,” Sacco said, “and anybody who feels like they need support.”

Sacco said no particular recovery program is advocated by Friends of Recovery.
“Nothing is pushed,” she said. “We recognize faith-based programs, 12-step programs – we’re sort of non-denominational. Anything that works for people.”
The local organization was founded last September, Sacco said.

“In recognition of National Recovery Month, OASAS [New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services] sponsored a luncheon at LeMoyne Manor in Liverpool,” she said. “The state wanted to expand their programs. Previously, the focus had been on treatment, then on prevention. The state wanted to focus on recovery and complete that triad.”

In order to come up with a program to address recovery services, people from across Onondaga County met for a brainstorming session.
“The goal was to set up places and organizations around the state for people in recovery to get services,” Sacco said.

Friends of Recovery was established as just such a resource. With an $11,000 grant from the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health, the group has been able to hold events, like their first, a family bowling night in November of 2007 that attracted some 500 people. They also host an annual Recovery Day celebration at the Inner Harbor; this year’s event took place on Saturday Sept. 13.

Friends of Recovery holds meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at which they discuss various programs and welcome addiction professionals as speakers. The meetings alternate between afternoons – 12 to 1:30 p.m. – and evenings – 5:30 to 7 p.m. – in order to accommodate anyone interested in coming. All meetings and events take place at the Salvation Army building, 667 South Salina St., Syracuse.
In addition to its regular meetings, Friends of Recovery has begun holding coffee hours at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month.

“It’s just an opportunity for a cup of coffee and some networking and fellowship with other people,” Sacco said. “You can come and just sit and drink coffee, or you can meet other people. There’s no agenda.”
The organization also offers family movie nights on the last Friday of the month.
“It’s a family event,” Sacco said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The goal of the group is to not only provide support for those in recovery and their families, but also to remove the stigma attached to addiction.
“Addiction is recognized as a disease,” Sacco said. “Recovery from addiction is just like recovery from cancer or heart disease. You’re just as much a survivor for coming through that.”
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