More than 500 people converged onto Albany at the beginning of this month for the 2nd Annual NYS Recovery Conference. This unique conference is unlike other that focuses on substance use disorder, for it celebrates the authentic faces and voices of the recovery movement in New York State, and recognizes the value of recovery.
In the course of two days, presenters used their lived experience to demonstrate how they are advancing public policies and practices that promote and support recovery from addiction. Panelists and attendees deliberated on the many ways they are addressing the pandemic of addiction – in the trenches daily, working tirelessly to help people in their communities find multiple pathways to recovery.
Keynote presenters Chacku Mathai and Tom Coderre spoke passionately about the history of advocacy and the powerful recovery movement that the Empire State is leading. Participants witnessed the shared experiences of young people on fire for recovery, peers in the prevention, treatment and recovery sectors, and allies from the law enforcement community. They received valuable information from harm-reduction advocates, spiritual warriors, seniors in recovery, policy educators and other professionals who appreciate the value of recovery. And they spent the day with NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez who attended the Youth and Youth Adult Advisory Board Planning Session and presented the coveted Commissioner’s Award at the 14th Annual Arts Festival.
A robust discussion followed the showing of the acclaimed documentary film, Reversing the Stigma (that involved several conference speakers, including Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez), was led by the film’s narrator Laurie Dhue, and featured panel members Tele Rabi, Micky Jimenz, Lisa Alteri, Joe Schrank, Dr. Charles Morgan and Cortney Lovell.
In addition to the inspiring speakers and presenters who participated the variety of workshops and performances, many participants shared their collective knowledge and expertise that enriched and strengthened the impact of the conference. These brave women and men confirmed the power and promise of recovery from addiction and its value to individuals, families and communities throughout New York State and the nation. And they did so, because they know that recovery is the antidote to addiction.
The NYS Recovery Conference is one of the many ways in which recovery advocates are breaking down the walls of stigma and discrimination that have held communities hostage to the shame surrounding the chronic illness of addiction. Attendees echoed the significance of creating a new generation of recovery leaders willing to engage in a collective dialogue on how best to expand the reach of recovery so that individuals and families impacted by addiction can access the help they need to build and sustain recovery in their communities.
I am grateful to Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, our friends in the Legislature, and our partners at OASAS who believe in the value of recovery and are expanding resources and support for our community.
I would also like to express my gratitude to Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP) and New York State Certification Board (NYSCB) for their dedication, collaboration and partnership – and for working with us to create this event.
I especially wish to thank our sponsors – including Optum, Tenet Diagnostics, Truetox Laboratories, OASAS, American Addiction Centers, Cornerstone of Medical Arts Center, Elizabeth M. Williams, LLC (Jiffy Journal), Families Together in New York State, Long Island Center for Recovery, Mountainside Treatment Center, Newport Academy, The Addictions Care Center of Albany, and to our many exhibitors for their support.
And I would be remiss if I did not express my profound gratitude to our Board of Directors – Joe Turner, Deb Rhodes, Laurie Leiberman, Susan Laporte, Chacku Mathai, Jackson Davis, and Dona Pagon, as well as the incredible staff at FOR-NY (Laurie, Theresa, Susan, Allison), Sherry LaFontain from ASAP and Cortney Lovell, who all worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this conference.
Witnessing the turnout reminds us that the recovery community in New York State is committed to the mission and vision of celebrating the power and promise of recovery, and that we are a community of consequence.
So on behalf of FOR-NY’s Board of Directors, ASAP and NYSCB, thank you to the rich and diverse group of individuals and family members in recovery, allies and professionals from across New York State who participated in celebrating Recovery Across a Lifetime. We hope this conference serves as a well-spring of inspiration and resources for the upcoming year. If you weren’t able to make it this year, we hope to see you at the next NYS Recovery conference. In the meanwhile, FOR-NY is dedicated to continuing our mission in supporting your efforts to build recovery capital in the Empire State.