LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The second annual Tippecanoe Celebration of Recovery Rally is happening on Saturday at the Bauer Community Center. This is an event that brings the community and recovery resources together.
"It's absolutely amazing that we have this much support," said Jason Padgett, an organizer for the event. He said the event has already grown considerably since last year, they are expecting more than 300 people to come. It's the kickoff of September being Overdose Awareness Month.
"Recovery is possible for everybody," he said. "There are a lot of different pathways to that and we have a lot of them in Tippecanoe County, so we just want to showcase what we have and celebrate recovery with others."
Padgett said they have big plans for the future of this event.
"We want it to become the North Central Indiana Celebration of Recovery Rally and to be inclusive of all counties that touch Tippecanoe County," he said. The idea is to hold this event one more time in Tippecanoe County, then have cities in the surrounding area bid on the event so it can travel.
A lot of good things have happened in the area in regards to fighting addiction over the past year. The opioid Quick Response Team started in Tippecanoe County last December, and got an expansion grant to Jasper and White Counties at the end of May. Logansport Memorial Hospital installed a new drug disposal drop box in March. And as News 18 previously reported, Indiana's opioid prescription drug rates are going down faster than the national average.
"We're seeing less emergency department visits, less incarceration for alcohol related issues and we're seeing people who are really sticking with recovery," he said. "Not just going through that circle of relapse and recovery, relapse and recovery."
However, he said it's important that we don't get complacent and that we focus on the bigger picture.
"Until we really start to address some of the underlying trauma, mental health issues and societal disfuction, we're not going to be getting ahead of this thing," he said.
Nick Cunningham is familiar with the circle of addiction. He has struggled with addiction since he was 11-years-old and has been in and out of recovery before. He said he started with marijuana and alcohol, which lead to heavier substances such as cocaine, heroin and opioids.
"I would hit rock bottom and then I would seek help," he said. He joined a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous and even checked in to a detox program in Indianapolis to try to get clean. "But it wasn't enough, I would sign myself out. I would get out, thought life was good and I got complacent."
But for the past six months, he says he's immersed himself in local help, from group meetings to seeing an addiction therapist and a psychiatrist. He said it's important for people to realize that it's not weakness to seek professional help.
"It takes all that, I have to have my mental illness in check or else my addiction will resurface," he said.
He has people in his life who motivate him to want to stay clean. Cunningham wore a Riley Children's Hospital pin on his hat, and had a Riley tattoo on his leg. He said his daughter was born with an extremely rare brain condition and she wasn't supposed to make it. Eight years later, "and by the grace of my higher power," he said, his daughter survived.
"Once you reach out and start the first day of clean, you become a father," he said of himself. "My relationship with her is number one. I have to be clean for myself and for my daughter."
Padgett has been working in the addiction recovery community for years, helping organize peer recovery systems, the QRT and mentoring those going through recovery. He is also in long-term recovery.
"Ten of the last 13 years have been sober for me and there have been some bumps in the road," he said of his battle with alcoholism. "Resources and help today was not what it was back in 2006 when I entered recovery."
Both Padgett and Cunningham stressed that addiction is an illness that impacts people of all demographics.
"It's just like if you have diabetes, you are not a diabetic, you are a human being who has diabetes," said Cunningham. "You're a human being that has a drug addiction, you're a human being who has a mental health illness. It does not discriminate and everyone can be touched by addiction and mental illness."
Padgett said it's people need recovery capital, which is the amount of internal and external resources that can be drawn upon to start and sustain recovery. It's events like the Tippecanoe Count Recovery Rally that bring these resources and supportive atmosphere together.
"If everybody has that access to recovery capital then everybody has an opportunity to find long term recovery," said Padgett.
The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. There will be free food and drinks, people speaking about their addiction and recovery, live music and the first ever Peer of the Year award will be given.
Primary sponsor support for the event include United Way of Greater Lafayette, Home With Hope, Bauer Family Resources, The City of Lafayette, Valley Oaks Health, Limestone Health, Teen Hope and Meridian Health Services.