By MATT CRANE
Through efforts from the Golden Triangle Recovery Center and University Baptist Church, the road to recovery is becoming more accessible in Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
With September recognized as Recovery Month, GTRC and UBC will host Recovery Day from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex to benefit the Recovery Fund.
GTRC Executive Director Michael Valentine said the event will bring a mix of family friendly activities and motivational speeches in an effort to educate the community about citizens struggling with addiction.
“People in the community can demystify addiction by educating themselves about addiction and by spreading the idea that there is hope for recovery,” he said. “Our event is about hope and healing, and we want to emphasize that people do recover. Those in recovery are some of our best and most caring citizens.”
Valentine said proceeds from the event go toward the Recovery Fund which benefits individuals who do not have the financial means to start or continue treatment.
“Research shows that staying in treatment — inpatient or outpatient — 90 percent or more leads to the best results, but unfortunately treatment is expensive and 60 percent of people who desire addiction treatment cannot afford it,” he said. “For that reason, the good people at University Baptist Church decided to help people by setting up an affordable load program called the Recovery Fund.”
Valentine said many individuals are responsible for the Recovery Fund coming to fruition including UBC Pastor Burt Montgomery, Fund President Scott Lipsey, Vice President William Sansing, Treasurer Robbie May, Event Coordinator Lauren Smith and GTRC staff members Jaimie Walker, Kristen Davis, Allie Coughlin and Asia McIntyre.
Valentine said the fund provides zero-percent interest loans to Oktibbeha County residents for the sole purpose of addiction treatment.
“This will benefit the individuals seeking addiction treatment and will benefit any treatment centers they may utilize,” he said. “For the Golden Triangle Recovery Center, it will allow my staff, who works so hard for so little, to receive fair compensation for their hard work.”
Valentine said while proceeds from Recovery Day will help to achieve the campaign goal of $20,000, private donations are needed.
“We set this goal because this is the minimum amount of money it takes to house a person in prison for a year,” he said. “For that amount of money, we believe we can help to make positive changes in the lives of 20 individuals and their families and friends.”
Events featured for Recovery Day include live music, field-day competitions between local police and fire agencies, face painting, inflatables, pictures with Bully, speakers, children’s games and the “Dunk-a-cop” booth.
Valentine said other than private donations, participants at Recovery Day have the opportunity to contribute through other sales and a silent auction.
“We will raise money through T-shirt sales, food sales and ticket sales for children’s games,” he said. “We are also holding a silent auction with original artwork by Dylan Karges, Lee Gibson and other area artist and craftsmen, along with other items including MSU athletic collectibles.”
Valentine said the substances most widely abused in the Starkville and Oktibbeha County area include alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and cocaine.
“The statistic we are focusing on this year is troubling in that 20 percent of children in the United States have an addicted parent at home,” he said. “We know that addiction is linked to increases in the rates of physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse of children.”
Valentine said part of the problem surrounding addiction is the myths and stigmas associated with those struggling with substance abuse.
“We hope that people who attend the event understand how widespread addiction is and how addicted people are normal people who have a medical problem that requires intervention through treatment or self-help groups,” he said. “To me, a person is suffering from substance dependence if their alcohol or drug use negatively affects one major area of their lives — parenting, education, work, primary relationship, finances, etc. There is a myth that you can tell who is addicted by looking at them, but this is not the case.”
Valentine said it is the stigma of the “otherness” of addicted people that he hopes to dispel.
“People fear what they do not understand … and addiction often goes undetected in its early stages,” he said. “Sadly, when a person announces to the world that they have a problem with addiction and are seeking help, they are sometimes shunned. This is the time when they need support and understanding in order to make difficult changes.”
Recovery day begins at noon Saturday at the Starkville Sportsplex, and individuals wishing to contribute may bring cash or a check payable to UBC that are tax deductible.