Recovering addict Gord Garner is a living example of a long-term success story. He was at the college April 5 to advocate for the Community Addictions Peer Support Association (CAPSA) which works with people in recovery.
“Addiction is a chronic condition,” Garner said. “It cannot be cured. So, the people who remain engaged with recovery activities and recovery community have long-term positive outcome.”
Wearing a shirt bearing “#recoveryally”, Garner would stop students, teachers and visitors at the college asking them: “Do you support recovery?” Anyone who answered yes was given a banner with the same hashtag and had a picture taken, which would be posted on Facebook.
With a goal of reaching 1,000 photos, the pictures taken would serve one purpose: to raise awareness.
“Every picture is worth a thousand words,” Garner said.
There was some confusion though.
Students would pass by and not understand what being a recovery ally meant.
Not that he didn’t know the meaning of an ally; rather the concept of being a recovery ally that was confusing to him, said Brittany Burns, a second-year student in the general arts and science program.
“People don’t understand what it means to be a recovery ally,” said Burns. “It’s hard to get that information out there as well. When they think of addiction, they think of the negative things and that’s exactly what we’re trying to eliminate.”
The other challenges faced by the campaign included students who were rushing to class with a display of cupcakes and students thought that they were being asked to buy one.
Burns and her classmates – Amy Gourgon, Leah Craig – organized the campaign, Wall of Faces, in collaboration with the Umbrella Project. Her group chose addictions because everyone knows someone who is affected by addiction in some way, according to Burns.
Choosing addiction and raising awareness of CAPSA offers students a place they can go to in order not to fall off the wagon and all the while breaking the stigma surrounding addictions.