Voices of Recovery: Film screening, panel to explore how to build a 'recovery-supportive community' in drug fight

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NORTH ADAMS — A locally produced film on efforts to support opiate addiction recovery, and the gaps in that support system, will make its debut Friday at the North Adams Movieplex.

And afterward, a panel of community leaders will host a discussion about the issues central to the film, which is titled "Voices of Recovery: Building a Recovery Community."

"We've made some important progress in keeping people alive and preventing overdose deaths, but we still need more support services to help people recover from their addiction," said Wendy Penner, director of prevention and wellness at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.

The film screening, part of the coalition's monthly forum, is a sequel to last year's film "Faces: Five Voices from One Community," which focused on personal stories around addiction and recovery.

Progress has been made, Penner said, noting that more people are being saved from immediate risk thanks to the recently established needle exchange program and the methadone clinic, along with wider use of naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. But, she said, more needs to be done to bolster the next step: addiction recovery.

"It's about having a community that supports recovery," she said. "It's about giving people hope that there is a path to recovery — making recovery visible, enlisting recovery coaches and peer support. These are critical gaps we can work on filling."

It is also important for people to understand the recovery process, Penner said.

"Recovery is very challenging," she noted. "Not everyone is going to be successful with long-term recovery. People have to understand that often relapse is a very real part of the recovery process. And people in someone's support network, and in the community, have to develop empathy and compassion for those in recovery — an increased awareness of what it really takes to recover from an addiction to opioids."

"Voices of Recovery" deals with issues like harm reduction, prevention, treatment and recovery, and encourages the viewer to think about the issue from different angles, Penner said.

Local documentary film maker Joe Aidonidis, principal with Great Sky Media, produced the film, which is just under 20 minutes long.

Following the 10 a.m. screening, a panel discussion on building a recovery-supportive community will feature a number of panelists including: Jennifer Michaels, Medical Director of The Brien Center; Megan Wroldson, Division Director Adult and Family Services of The Brien Center; Marcy Julian, Senior Regional Manager, Learn To Cope; Amalio Jusino, Assistant Chief North Adams Ambulance; Sarah DeJesus, Tapestry Syringe Access Program; and Collin Woods, Recovery Coach, Berkshire Transition Network.

"We thought it would be important to get this information out there for all of the people in our community who have been touched by addiction," Penner said.

Contact Scott Stafford at sstafford@berkshireeagle,com.


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