A Generation in recovery against addiction

Jessica GuerrucciReporter

Addiction means something different to each one of us. In the documentary, “Generation Found,” it meant community, connection, and support, and worked to break the stigmas surrounding addiction.

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Southern showed the documentary “Generation Found” in the Student Center theater by Greg Williams. The movie focused on a recovery high school in Houston, Texas and showed how their community came together to create a peer-driven youth and worked towards the family’s recovery. A recovery high school is a school for students recovering from substance use disorder.

Sarah Keiser, coordinator of alcohol and other drug services and is involved in the collegiate recovery program on campus, said the film helps address stigmas about addiction.

“A misconception that people think is a lot of people don’t get sober at a young age. These recovery high schools and collegiate recovery programs across the country are growing every year,” said Keiser.

Before the movie was shown, students had the opportunity to talk with different organizations in the community, such as Glorious Recovery, Turnbridge, Liberation Programs, Today I Matter, and several others, and after the event they held a panel discussion led by Mario Diunro.

Certified recovery coach Carol Cruz, who was on the panel, said she is a person in long term recovery and has been sober for 24 years. Cruz said her son is the reason that she is here today, and said he is her “miracle baby.”

“I do training, I facilitate, I coach, I teach, I mentor, everything that I eat and breathe is all about recovery,” said Cruz.

Cruz said it is important for people to talk about addiction because if people keep silent, nothing is ever going to change. In the movie, the students at Archway Academy, the recovery high school, do not judge each other, instead, they push each other to do better.

“If they see someone is having a bad day, they lift them up,” said Cruz. “Shouldn’t it be like that all the time? That’s how I feel, it should be like that all the time. We should all be lifting each other up and unfortunately this disease oppresses people and down to not want to talk to people.”

Tyler Pelletier, a social work major who was also on the panel, is a student in recovery, and part of the collegiate recovery program on campus. Pelletier said he has been involved in several tabling events on campus to spread awareness regarding addiction.

“A lot of that is kind of raising awareness and letting people know there are recovery supports on campus, there’s different AA meetings, smart recovery meeting, different pathways to recovery and great councilors,” said Pelletier.

John Lally, who is President of “Today I Matter,” as well as a panel member, lost his son Tim to an overdose, and started the nonprofit organization in response to his death.

“After his passing we just needed to do something active, we needed to do something to honor him, and try to make something good come from his struggle,” said Lally.

As part of Lally’s organization, they made 165 posters of people that have been lost to addiction with titles under their photos such as “artist” or “musician” to show that these people were more than their addiction.

“These are good people that we’ve lost. They look like our family and our friends, they’re no different than any of us, and we’re not ashamed of them,” said Lally.

John Hamilton, the president of the Liberation Program, a non-profit, behavior health agency gave a different perspective during the panel discussion.

“There’s multiple pathways to recovery and we work closely with the recovery community to have a seamless hand-off to people developing a healing process with community and recovery,” said Hamilton.

Diurno, who led the panel, said he is in recovery and that Williams inspired him during his journey. He said how addicts are not bad people, just sick people
trying to get well.

“You just have to treat people with love, dignity, and respect,” said Diurno. “That’s what I’ve learned in the last 30 years.”

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