National Recovery Month: Conference, human chain and more

Clark County to feature activities, opportunities to learn about sobriety

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian arts & features reporter

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September marks the 25th annual National Recovery Month — what used to be called National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month — and there will be lots to learn and celebrate here in Clark County about living a clean and sober life.

The county's Department of Community Services has teamed up with several grass-roots groups to offer a week of events and activities, from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14. It'll all wind up with a free dinner and recovery forum, a human chain on the Interstate 5 Bridge and a rock festival in Esther Short Park. Plus, bestselling author David Sheff will speak at Clark College on Sept. 17 about what he considers America's greatest public health challenge: addiction.

But first, there's lots for people in recovery and the people who love and help them to do. Here's the whole lineup of activities, all of which are at the Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay, 100 Columbia Street, unless otherwise noted.

• Recovery Coach Academy: A five-day intensive seminar for professionals and volunteers who work with people in recovery. Set for Sept. 8-12. Visit RecoveryNW.org to learn more.

• Free Recovery NW regional conference: aimed at people in recovery and anyone else who's interested. A broad range of speakers and topics will be included: state, federal and local officials, clergy, educators, counselors and others discussing veterans issues, youth issues, relationship issues, gambling addiction, spirituality and meditation, employment, nutrition and others. Among the speakers will be skateboard legend Dennis Martinez. The conference is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 12 and 13.

• Clark County's free 13th annual Recovery Forum: will feature a buffet dinner and speakers including Cleve Thompson, Clark County's retired alcohol and drug program manager, and commissioners Tom Mielke and Ed Barnes. Five people, including outgoing Sheriff Garry Lucas, will receive special recognition, and three people in recovery will share their stories. The Recovery Forum is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 13. The event is free, but organizers have asked attendees to register through RecoveryNW.org so they can plan food and other logistics.

• Recovery walk: Set for 10 a.m. on Sept. 14, starting at the Red Lion and walking to Esther Short Park.

• Hands Across the Bridge: A Clark County tradition that began a dozen years ago with 200 people forming a human chain across the I-5 bridge; the event has grown tremendously, with more than 3,000 people joining hands in 2013. It used to be held on Labor Day but this year it's set for noon on Sunday, Sept. 14.

• Oxfest: After the bridge ceremony, participants will descend on Esther Short Park for Oxfest, a musical celebration including food and other family fun. Oxfest begins at 1:30 p.m. and lasts until dark on Sept. 14. It's sponsored by the clean-and-sober Oxford House organizations of Oregon and Washington.

For more information about Clark County-sponsored activities, contact Barbara Gerrior at 360-397-2075 ext. 7822 or Barbara.Gerrior@clark.wa.gov.

For more information about Hands Across the Bridge and Oxfest, contact Patty Katz at 360-903-4645 or visit handsacrossthebridge.org and oxfest.net.

• David Sheff: He's the bestselling author of "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction" and "Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy." The former is a widely celebrated 2008 memoir, which vaulted Sheff into Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" in 2009; the latter is a new exploration of the latest research in medicine, neuroscience, treatment and the psychology of addiction, including important counsel for parents and families.

Sheff's talk is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 17, in Foster Hall at Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way. Tickets are $10 — or $30 including a copy of "Clean" — and are available online at http://daybreakinfo.org; or by cash or check at the door.

The hosting agency is Daybreak Youth Services, Clark County's only private in-patient residential drug treatment facility for boys.