How writing is helping addicts in their road to recovery

BURLINGTON, Vt. - September is National Recovery Month. Local organizations are shining a light on substance abuse and bringing together people who have won the battle against drug addiction.

"I've been clean and sober for over 30 years," said John Gower of the Writers for Recovery Workshop.

Gower's journey to sobriety wasn't easy. But it was an unconventional kind of treatment that helped him overcome the Writers for Recovery Workshop.

"You have to do something different because you do what you know and you have to know some new things in order to stay clean and sober," said Gower.

The Recovery Rally brought treatment programs from around the state to the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center for the 25th Anniversary of National Recovery Month. Family and friends came out to hear the stories that brought their loved ones to their turning point.

"I was reluctant to expose myself publicly as a person in recovery because of the stigma but that's exactly what this whole event is about," said Patricia Skinner-Garvey, also a member of the Writers for Recovery Workshop.

"We're excited to raise a lot of visibility and awareness and hope around recovery and focus on solutions, and bring hope to families and make sure that they know how to connect," said Rita Johnson, the Friends of Recovery Vermont Director.

And it's that connection that, officials say, helps the healing process continue.

"The way people responded to it and shared their own stories is what kept me coming," said Skinner-Garvey.

In Vermont, about 7-thousand people a year go through treatment for substance abuse.

"I would say about 10 percent of the population on average tend to struggle with some kind of addiction and about half of those may go into treatment at some point in time," said Commissioner Barbara Cimaglio from the Vt. Dept. Of Health.

It's services like counseling and now writing that are helping Vermonters lead sober lives. And it's the process of writing about the past and future that is making a difference for so many.

"I'm a survivor and so are other people," said Gower.