A Rally in Great Barrington Aims to "Smash the Stigma" of Addiction
GREAT BARRINGTON, Massachusetts — This Saturday, Rural Recovery Resources will hold a protest and event to “Smash The Stigma” of addiction and to highlight the assistance available to people.
“The spirit of ‘Smash the Stigma’ is exactly what the title is, to address the stigma that’s attached to substance use disorder, and to normalize, having conversations about that,” said project manager Gary Pratt said.
“So stigma, perhaps the hardest thing that anybody that’s dealing with a substance use disorder can overcome. It’s pervasive in the society and forever. It’s just something that’s not talked about.”
When difficult issues, like as addiction, are avoided, it is more difficult to obtain the treatments required for rehabilitation, he claims.
According to Rural Recovery Resources, 374 persons died from an overdose in Berkshire County between 2010 and 2021.
“It’s just to lower that temperature and get people more comfortable and having that conversation, whether they’re using, whether family members using, or a family member or friend has passed away, but from the disease,” Pratt said.
He believes it is critical to have that talk in order to erase the stigma and allow individuals to recover and stop dying.
Pratt has been in recovery for 14 years and is also a registered alcohol and drug counselor, so he understands the battle from both sides.
I’ve seen it from both ends. I’ve seen it in a person with a substance-use disorder. I’ve seen it as a person treating a substance use disorder, and quite frankly, [I’m] tired of friends and acquaintances dying from this disease,” he said
Pratt stated that he has seen individuals die because they were too embarrassed to seek treatment.
“I think it’s very important to stress that people who use substances are just that. They are people, and they’re not bad people. “They’re sick people that desperately want to get help sometimes,” he said.
“Because of the stigma, especially in Berkshire County, we haven’t seen the same services that are offered in other parts of Massachusetts.”
He would want to see more resources in the region, including a publicly financed acute treatment facility and detoxification in South Berkshire County, a clinical stabilization services unit, a transitional support services unit, and several halfway homes.
“Halfway houses, basically, are almost non-existent in Berkshire County. There’s one in Pittsfield, and there’s one in North Adams. They’re state funded. There is not one in South Berkshire County,” Pratt said.
“I would love to see more services like that. I would love to see a proliferation of recovery centers in South Berkshire County and Berkshire County as a whole. Right now there are two of them: the one that we started here in Great Barrington, and there’s Living in Recovery in Pittsfield…
” My dream is that when people seek treatment, when they seek recovery in whatever form they’re looking for, they don’t have to leave their home town. ”
Live music will be provided by the local band Fire Pit, as well as a Biggins Diggins food truck, ice cream from SoCal Creamery, and a coffee stand with coffee given by Fuel. Lawn games and family activities will also be available.
During the event, there will be a resource fair to show the options accessible to Berkshire County addicts.
Participants can march along Main Street to Town Hall at noon and hold a protest until 1:30 p.m.
The 2019 gathering drew roughly 300 individuals; Saturday’s is the first since the outbreak.
Rural Recovery Resources were developed by the South County Recovery Center thanks to a grant from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration that will expire this year.
The center intends to reapply for the grant, but it is also exploring other funding options, such as local fundraisers and accepting contributions.
It features six financial partners as well as a large coalition of partners from around Southern Berkshire, including the Great Barrington Police Department, the Brien Center, and Spectrum Health Services.
“That’s one of the things that we’ve been doing for years. We’ve been working on building warm handoffs with agencies so we have those personal relationships with people at different agencies,” Pratt said.
So we don’t just hand somebody a pamphlet and be like, ‘you need a counselor here, call the Brien Center, see what they can do.’ We call the Brien Center with people, we speak to people that we know, and we walk people through the process. ”
We created Vanderburgh House with one goal in mind: to create a safe and stable recovery-based home for individuals seeking unique experiences in their recovery journey. All our homes across New England are guided by caring house managers whose main concern is to help our clients attain a higher life free of drugs and alcohol.
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