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Dinner to address heroin addiction and recovery

Foundations for Recovery will host an "illumination dinner" in conjunction with a discussion about heroin addiction and recovery from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Bobbio’s Pizza, 312 Oak St., Central Point.

The event, free and open to the public, is part of a series and a support group called “Learn 2 HOPE.” The group holds the dinners once a month to shed light on different issues related to drugs in the community. They provide addiction-related signs to look for, such as changes in speech patterns, as well as information on options for overcoming addictions.

The May 26 event will begin with a personal recovery story from a former addict who is now a recovery coach and attends school for addiction counseling. A presentation will be given about the ways drugs such as suboxen and fentanyl can prolong addiction, along with general information about the heroin epidemic in the state of Oregon. The night will end with a video titled “Giving HOPE.”

Peer mentoring is the fundamental base of Foundations for Recovery, says Douglas Gould, the group's executive director, and may involve peer mentors who were once addicted to a substance themselves.

Some coaches, who at one time found themselves caught in addiction, are now strong in their own recovery and are able to assist others toward recovery, said Gould.

Peer mentors must go through specific training and, if they are recovered addicts themselves, must be sober for at least one year before becoming a recovery coach. At any given time, Gould said, about 15 active recovery coaches work with Foundations for Recovery.

Gould said about 600 people have gone through the program since its founding in December 2011. About 50 percent of those who have gone through the program have stayed clean, although he notes it takes addicts an average of seven attempts at recovery to become fully nondependent.

Susan Szczesniak, an administrator and recovery coach with FFR, said the organization never gives up on its members.

“There is always hope, no matter what people are involved in or struggle with,” Szczesniak said. “Relapse doesn’t have to happen, but if it does, it is a learning moment because recovery is a process.”

Gould said FFR helps participants past the point of recovery, focusing on seven areas of wellness: sobriety, physical, emotional and spiritual health, housing, community health and daily living management. Recovery coaches work with participants to meet goals for each area of wellness and connect them with other programs in the community.

FFR also offers a program for youth ages 11 to 17, called “Step Up, Speak Out, Stand Firm,” which aims to connect youths with alternative hobbies and activities.

The organization will host its third annual Drive Out Drugs Recovery Festival at Medford's Harry and David Field Sept. 9-10. The event will include a softball competition, called Guns and Hoses III, between Medford police and fire departments, boxing from the Spartan Boxing Club, a kid zone, food vendors and educational booths.

FFR is at 817 N. Central Ave., Suite C, Medford. For more information or to reserve a seat for the illumination dinner, call 541-245-HOPE (4673).

Caitlin Fowlkes is a reporting intern.