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Recovathon provides outlet for recovering drug addicts

Jun. 15, 2013 @ 11:36 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Tom Freeman doesn't hesitate to talk about his dark past when it comes to helping others work for a brighter future.

"I was a drug user for 20 years, and I've been clean for three," said Freeman, who is a recovery coach with the Prestera Center's addictions recovery program. "I went to (Prestera at) Pine Crest several times, but I never was successful until I began to follow the suggestions they gave me. When I began following them, I knew I wanted to be able to help other people in my situation, and I worked to meet the standards they set for me to be able to do that."

Freeman and Donna Bishop, another recovery coach, organized a Summer Recovathon Saturday afternoon at the Barnett Center in Huntington, where about 150 recovering drug and alcohol users could come and enjoy a nice afternoon cookout and share their stories, Freeman said.

Thanks to a grant that allows Prestera to provide addiction services to rural areas in Wayne, Lincoln and Boone counties, the center is able to host three Recovathons each year, Freeman said.

While a summer cookout might be a mainstay in many summer calendars, the experience can be different for someone who has been under the influence of drugs or alcohol for a long time, said Melanie Woodrum of Huntington, who has been clean for 27 months.

"It's a good way to bring out people who might not have enjoyed something like this in a long, long time," Woodrum said. "For someone who is recovering, this is something they can do that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol, and it's part of the process of learning how to use your down time in a way that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol."

The goal of the event, while allowing for people recovering from addiction to have a clean, fun time, also was to let them offer and receive support from one another, Freeman said.

"People always say, 'Why don't you just quit?' Or they say, 'Why don't you just go to church?' " Freeman said. "I was raised going to church, and if I, or any other addict, could quit when we needed to, we absolutely would. That's what it means to be addicted. It's not that you just aren't quitting. Once you begin using on a regular basis, it is really tough to quit."

For Bishop, who said she has been clean for six years, she said the path to recovery isn't an easy one to start, but it is one that a person has to find on their own.

"I think a lot of families think they are helping users by giving them money for bills or food," Bishop said. "That's the worst thing to do. If someone can still get by and keep using, they will. Without that desperation and fear that you won't make it, you're never going to try to get the help you need to make it.

"If I hadn't felt those feelings, I would never have sought help, and I wouldn't be able to help other people today."

For more information about addiction and mental health services at Prestera Center, visit www.prestera.org or call 1-877-399-7776.



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