Event set Sunday to celebrate sober living

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County’s Opportunity House Inc. will continue to spread its message of hope and recovery during the second annual Hope and Help Assembly.

In collaboration with the city of Buckhannon, from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday, the annual HAHA event will celebrate and champion those in long-term recovery and individuals dedicated to a sober life.

Sunday’s event is an invitation to those struggling with active addiction, those in recovery and friends and family members for a day of “supportive personal reflections on recovery, guidance for entering recovery and local resources to help overcome addiction.”

“I think we’re going to try to make it a little lighter,” said Matt Kerner, executive director of Opportunity House, about the upcoming event. “Last year we focused on the people that we have lost to addiction, and this year we want to celebrate more of the people we have in recovery.”

Reducing the stigma associated with addiction will also be emphasized during the event. Kerner has stressed in the past that the stigma attached to addiction is often a barrier for addicts seeking treatment.

“Because really the stigma and people not wanting to talk about it is one of the biggest barriers to treatment or recovery. … ,” he said. “… The more that we can knock this stigma down will directly impact how many lives we can save.”

Professionals will be offering support to those in recovery, or individuals hoping to achieve recovery by providing assistance in “a nonjudgmental environment,” according to a new release. Friends and family can also find advice on how to promote a life of recovery from on-hand service provides and from fellow community members in similar situations.

The event will feature keynote speakers from recovery organizations who will provide information on what is happening locally related to the development of the West Virginia chapter of the National Association of Recovery Residences and The West Virginia Peer Network. The event will also offer performances from Walter Debarr, Brasstaxx, Zachary Lee and Bryce O’Loughlin & Friends.

While Kerner has traveled across the state speaking about recovery and addiction, he said Upshur County is known as having a strong recovery network.

“We have more recovery capital in this county than counties that are much larger than us as far as the number of folks and meetings and other things that are available,” he said. “So we’re really proud of that.”

Opportunity House is described as providing “a safe, supportive housing for those who are seeking a new way of life free from addiction” and offers a variety of recovery oriented housing programs and recovery support services to individuals who may not require housing support but have other barriers to recovery.

Recovery Coaching services are also offered to individuals from Upshur, Lewis, Braxton, Barbour and Randolph counties. Opportunity House also has space to host daily 12-step meetings and other recovery oriented activities.