September is Recovery Month, recovery from addiction and substance abuse.
“National Recovery Month is incredibly important. It brings both awareness and education to the programs and services that are available to help someone who’s battle addiction. I think in addition, it also gives a great chance to showcase the achievements and accomplishments of an individual who’s battling their recovery and being successful in their recovery. Something like National Recovery Month, I think it really does shine a a really good spotlight on the programs and services that are available, and really serves as a reminder to let people know that hope’s out there for them,” said Jason Kisielewski, community affairs manager at Gaudenzia Erie.
Just like any other mental illness, addiction is a disease.
One of the things too we want to do is remind people that addiction is a disease and should really be treated like any other disease. So we definitely want to break down those barriers and kind of erase that stigma,” said Kisielewski.
Dr. Jamie Marich has spent the past 18 years in recovery.
“We’re all in recovery from something. And recovery is an ongoing process, so for instance I identified that food was probably my first addiction when I was a young kid, self-injury as a way to cope with some traumatic stress that was going on,” said Dr. Marich.
Moving to college, access to alcohol was a lot easier for Marich.
“When a lot of the forces of my addiction like the food, the self-injury, I think the over achieving is also a way I think I had some addictive tendencies. As soon as I got to college and found alcohol, and I had already been dabbling with some pills here and there. It was just, I had found something immediately that helped me take the burden of feeling away,” said Marich.
That numb feeling is what a lot of people go for.
Each September, to align with Recovery Month, Gaudenzia Erie holds a race at Presque Isle to raise funds for recovery efforts. This year, due to COVID-19, they couldn’t hold it.
“I think it really serves as a great way to help a lot of people maybe who aren’t battling addiction or who don’t know, kind of gives them that understanding. It lets them know that 1 out of every 4 people are touched by addiction in some way, so it’s something that definitely deserves attention,” said Kisielewski,
Addiction can affect anyone.
“…tend to have this picture of an addict/alcoholic as somebody as the stoner, the dropout, the burnout of their high school class. And yeah, I always say when I speak more valedictorians have an issue with addiction than you think,” said Marich.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“I think I would first tell l people you’re worthy of having your story heard. Period,” said Marich.
“A lot of times, people suffer alone. And I think that if we reach out and let somebody know we’re there for them, that can make all the difference,” said Kisielewski.