The joys of recovery

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

Recovery from addiction does not have to be a lonely and mirthless journey.

“You are not ever going to be happy again because you are in recovery; that’s not true,” said Juanita Everman.

Everman is the co-founder and executive director of Achieving Recovery Together (ART), and during September the Winchester-based non-profit is celebrating National Recovery Month.

“So a couple of events we do for fundraising, and then a couple of events we do for advocacy, community education, and just to let people know that recovery is fun,” Everman said. “We like to show people that it is possible; recovery is possible, it is fun and you will actually gain more joy in your life than you ever had.”

The celebration continues Friday evening at 6 p.m. with Friends and Family Night at College Park. It began with the Treasured ART Show last weekend during the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival.

“We are going to have hot dogs, giveaways and yard games,” said Amber Fields-Hull, ART’s other co-founder and program director. “It is going to be a community event where we bring the whole family and celebrate the whole recovery community.”

The month continues with the Rally4Recovery Walk in downtown on the Sept. 24.

“We do all kinds of neat things,” Fields-Hull said about the rally. “There is a free spaghetti dinner, there are speakers, remembrance pinwheels, a kids zone, a resource table and music.”

The final event, the 10,000 Meter on Van Meter, is the next morning on the Sept. 25 at the Kroger Youth Soccer Complex. Registration fees start at $35 for the 10K and $25 for the 5K; there are discounts for teams and youth. All proceeds go to support ART’s programs and services.

Everman and Fields-Hull have helped organize National Recovery Month events for several years.

“We wanted to do something to celebrate and give back, and then also to remember the ones that we’ve lost,” Everman said.

Both Everman and Fields-Hull have lost loved ones to overdoses. Fields-Hull’s husband passed away due to one and Everman said she has “lost five to six nieces and nephews” to them. They are both also recovering addicts.

Fields-Hull originally encountered Everman in 2015 while she was incarcerated at the Clark County Detention Center. Everman would visit the jail to lead a recovery support group. Fields-Hull said she “left the cell for all the wrong reasons” when she attended. That all changed a few years later.

“I lost my husband to an overdose and kind of went crazy for a good six months after that, ‘’ Fields-Hull said. “I decided that I was going to die or do something different.”

That something different was finding her way to a support group led by Everman and her husband.

The two eventually attended a leadership academy together and decided that they “wanted to do more”, and that led to them forming a quick response team that visited overdose patients at Clark Regional Medical Center.

“Anytime there was an overdose at the hospital they would call in our peer support,” Fields-Hull said. “We would go in and talk about resources and recovery.”

She said the team would go in and share with the patients that they knew the shame of an overdose.

One barrier in the early days was finding transport for those seeking treatment.

“It went from us trying to figure out who did it to us doing it ourselves,” said Fields-Hull.

ART expanded to other recovery support services and became a non-profit in 2018. It now has a community recovery center located at 37 S. Main St., where it offers services classes, peer support and transportation to rehabilitation or detox facilities.