NORTHERN ST. LOUIS COUNTY — September is recovery month and a virtual event is being held to support the Iron Range community. Celebrate Recovery Together will be hosted from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday via Zoom. This is a free event and open to the public.

Celebrate Recovery Together is “focused on celebrating recovery as well as maintaining recovery,” said Bryan Johnson, a Substance Use Disorder Social Worker with St. Louis County.

Celebrate Recovery Together is a virtual event being held in partnership by the Chemical Abuse Prevention and Education (C.A.P.E.) Coalition, St. Louis County, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and the University of Minnesota Extension Office.

National Recovery Month is in its 31st year and for the second year Northern St. Louis County is holding a community event. This year’s virtual event follows the success of the recovery walk in 2019.

“National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with mental and substance use disorders to live healthy and rewarding lives,” Johnson said.

The St. Louis County Board released a proclamation on Sept. 1, declaring it recovery month and stated that the board has a “steadfast commitment to supporting St. Louis County’s residents living with a substance use disorder so they may find opportunities to build and strengthen their wellbeing through a collaboration with St. Louis County and our community resources.”

In the proclamation, the St. Louis County Board also honored “the strength, courage, and persistence of those seeking and living in recovery,” as well as acknowledging that these are our family, friends and neighbors.

This proclamation recognized the barriers which exist to finding the path to recovery and the hard work and services which regional groups provide, such as the Celebrate Recovery Together event.

The goals of Celebrate Recovery Together include both commemorating recovery successes as well as showing that recovery and recovery support exists on the Iron Range.

Johnson, who has worked with substance use disorders for 20 years, said he often hears how there is no recovery on the Range but disagrees. “We, The Recovering Community, have to get our voices out there and let it be heard: We are here.”

Celebrate Recovery Together also hopes to reduce stigma around addiction.

“Individuals living with a Substance Use Disorder are not broken, weak or have moral failing,” Johnson added.”We focus on ‘recovery’ as opposed to ‘recovered,’ because as with any chronic disease we must always treat our disease as an ongoing process. A diabetic must always eat properly, take medication, exercise and follow doctor’s orders. An individual suffering from a Substance Use Disorder must always recognize this is a lifelong illness. Recovery is an individual process and looks different for each of us.”

Substance use affects all parts of the community and it takes the whole to address the issue. With that in mind, area organizations and community partners came together to hold Celebrate Recovery Together including: Treatment Centers, Tribal Communities, Medical Facilities, Community Centers, Mental Health Centers, Housing Organizations, Correctional Facilities, Specialty Courts and Community Organizations like C.A.P.E.

Celebrate Recovery Together is an event for the whole Iron Range community and will be beneficial to those in recovery, as well as their support systems.

Pam Hughes of the Bois Forte Tribal Government, who is the SUD/New Moon Supportive Housing Director, explained that due to COVID-19 they were not able to hold the annual community sobriety feast, but still want to celebrate recovery. “Recovery events are a fun, interactive way to raise awareness and understanding of Substance Use Disorders and recognize the dedication of staff that provide the prevention, treatment and recovery services,” Hughes said over email Tuesday.

Celebrate Recovery Together will offer information on relapse prevention, self-care, education/prevention and community support.The event will begin with an introduction from C.A.P.E. who will discuss recovery and the hope it brings to individuals, families and communities. Twenty-minute breakout sessions will be held on recovery groups, AA, NA, tobacco cessation, healthy living and prenatal care, yoga and resilience techniques when living with high ACE’s scores.

One breakout session is called Trauma Informed Recovery Yoga and will be taught by Jenna Dickinson, a certified Mind Body Recovery Coach who owns and operates Northern Lights Yoga in Aurora.

“Trauma informed yoga is my passion,” Dickinson said over email this week. “The goal is to help individuals release stress and trauma from the body and mind.”

This breakout session will focus on calming the parasympathetic nervous system, minds and bodies by practicing breath work and utilizing yoga postures, mindfulness and meditation.

“People should attend the trauma informed yoga session because we all have trauma and stress trapped in our bodies,” Dickinson explained. “Trauma informed yoga helps us learn to calm our minds and regulate our physical responses (parasympathetic nervous system) and, thus, our emotions. We can relearn to recognize and tolerate physical sensations and thereby regain a feeling of safety inside our bodies.”

She said that when this system is calmed, the body does not go as quickly into the fight or flight response, allowing the person to feel less stress. “Yoga is for everyone. It’s not about being flexible or getting a workout in, it’s about connecting the mind back to the body.”

The event will conclude with a testimony from a community member in long-term recovery and will be recorded and available for later use.

To join the event, visit https://z.umn.edu/Recovery2020. For more information, or for help accessing Celebrate Recovery Together, contact Bryan Johnson at 218-410-0176 or JohnsonB3@StLouisCountyMN.gov.

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