Fredericton residents took part in Recovery Day events at city hall, uniting those who have overcome addictions and showing support for others who are still in recovery.
Dozen gathered at city hall on Wednesday for a BBQ, live music and to share their stories of recovery with others, in hopes of helping end the stigma surrounding addiction.
Rachel Comeau shared her story of her struggle with cocaine. She said she was paralyzed for months after taking rat poison she believed was cocaine.
“I was an IV user, the rat poison paralyzed me for eight months and I ended up getting into a lot of addiction through that because of pain, so then I had two addictions.”
Comeau said she suffered from the addiction for nearly 10 years and said she’s now been sober for six years with the help of mental health and an art recovery group.
“Painting literally saved my life. What I run to now instead of dope is a paint brush,” Comeau said. “It’s worth it to be public about it, go back to those nightmares if I can help somebody.”
Recovery Day in Canada chair Misty McLaughlin shared her story of addiction and said it’s important to speak out to try to end the stigma of what many people think addiction looks like.
“Addiction can slip into your life fairly quickly. It did for me,” McLaughlin said. “It wasn’t supposed to happen for me. I grew up around it and it was something I swore I would never do later in my life, but I got married, had kids, had a career, I was educated and just the pressures of life fell in around me.”
The event was held Wednesday in Fredericton, but events will take place in 31 cities across the country throughout the month of September, including Saint John and Moncton.
Renee Farrell attended last year’s event and felt compelled to return this year. She says it was heartwarming to see several other people come forward and share their experiences and to see the community show so much support.
“I thought it was my destiny to be an addict and alcoholic,” Farrell said. “I know today it’s not.”
She said she’s “living proof” recovery is possible and said there are many resources and supports available within Fredericton.
Sharon Lee Saulnier said she got addicted to opioids after a major car accident in 2000. She’s been sober for two years.
“I wanted to let other people know that they can get where I am. It took a little bit of work, it took some people that believed in me, but it also took me knocking on some doors and knowing that I deserved the help,” Saulnier said.
She said there’s a lot of shame and stigma along with addictions and mental illness.
“No one is alone in this and we are responsible as a community to take care of the people who are hurting and suffering, and that’s why I’m out there hoping to pay it forward,” Saulnier said.
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Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien proclaimed Wednesday Recovery Day in Fredericton. He said it’s amazing to see people share their stories of overcoming addictions.
“This community now is gelling as a community as we’ve never seen before. We care for each other, we look after each other and every year we get more understanding and accepting of peoples’ issues because everybody has an issue in their own way,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he spoke privately with several people at the event and said a number of people became addicted to pain killers after suffering injuries. He said that puts into perspective how easy it could be for anyone in any profession to become addicted.
“There would be doctors, lawyers, nurses, politicians in this city that probably have addiction problems because of those same situations and we don’t know. So don’t be judgmental of anybody and just be understanding and really reach out as a community to help people recover and support them on their journey,” O’Brien said.
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