‘Recovery Happens’ celebrates sobriety

IECN photo Maryjoy Duncan: 3rd District County Supervisor James Ramos spent time speaking with those in recovery, giving hugs and offering words of encouragement.

“I didn’t think I had a problem, I used marijuana and alcohol to cope with life as I knew. Where I grew up, everyone smoked marijuana. It was the norm and alcohol went hand in hand with it. I was always smart but could not find viable employment out of fear that I would be drug tested.” March G., a college graduate whose son was in her care, sought public assistance, and was ordered by the same social services agency to seek treatment. She was 26 when she committed herself to an outpatient program.

“I had no clue why I needed (treatment), I was not how a specific addict was characterized.”

March completed the Narcotics Anonymous program in two years, and today, almost 14 years later, she is gainfully employed and working on her Doctorate degree. “I realize that drugs were just a symptom to a bigger life problem. I am living the best life possible and look forward to what recovery should offer from this point forward.”

March’s is just one of the thousands of success stories celebrated each September during National Recovery Month, now in its 28th year, that highlights the achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery, and honors the treatment and recovery service providers who make recovery possible.

On Saturday, Sept. 29 the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health and its partners presented the 15th Annual Recovery Happens event at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino where over 600 people from around the Inland Empire converged to celebrate the successes of those in recovery as well as enjoy free food, entertainment and resources. Nearly 60 vendors and service providers were also on-hand to distribute information and available resources.

“Your current situation is not your final destination,” exclaimed Sue Abito, sober for 25 years, who shared her experience of overcoming addiction with the crowd during opening ceremonies.

3rd District County Supervisor James Ramos has attended the event every year as supervisor, and noted the importance of showing the community that there are local resources to help them achieve sobriety.

“People need mental health services in the county, and as an elected official I help to advocate and break barriers to bring those services into the county,” Ramos explained. “I believe in their plight, this event shows people that at anytime they can change and get a second chance, and we’re here to embrace them.”

Award recipients this year are Dixie Bolan, Residential Counselor of the Year; Christina Ancira, Prevention Advocate of the Year; Anita Carroll, Outpatient Counselor of the Year; Ajia McCoy, Recovery Advocate of the Year; Mental Health Systems, Recovery Agency of the Year; and Lynn Kienzle, Lifetime Achievement Award.