HURRICANE — More Than Addiction, a group that educates and advocates for people impacted by drug addiction, will host a launch party picnic from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, June 14, at Valley Park.

"The launch party picnic is intended to share our work and mission with the community and connect community members to resources and support for addiction and recovery," said Karla Hilliard, a co-founder of More Than Addiction. "We hope to be a source of compassion and advocacy in our community and do our part in helping to erase stigma and shame, so those battling addiction have a better chance at finding the help they need."

The group's mission is to tell real stories of real people impacted by drug addiction, and to spark compassion in the community. The goal is to shift the damaging and oftentimes demoralizing rhetoric of addiction to a more humane and complete narrative.

"We seek to shine a light on all that makes a person whole, unique, and valuable beyond addiction," said Hilliard, an English teacher who lost a younger brother to an overdose the day after Christmas.

"He was this gregarious, adventurous, hilarious person and was a very spirited individual," she shared about her late brother. Hilliard says she hears many people talking about addiction being simply a bad choice, without understanding the complexities of the situation.

"It is a disease of the brain and the body," she said. "We feel strongly that people in recovery deserve a voice in this conversation about how to make progress and move forward in finding solutions to the devastating effects of addiction."

The picnic is free to public and family-friendly. The guests will enjoy food and desserts, live music, fun giveaways, and more. Guest speakers from the recovery community will share their stories, and Cece Brown of Ryan's Hope will discuss her "all hands on deck" vision of combating addiction in the communities.

More Than Addiction is available for speaking engagements. To find out more, visit www.morethanaddiction.org.

Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/morethanaddictionWV.

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