CHATHAM CH@T | GEORGE GREGER-HOLT

Upcoming Chatham Drug Free event celebrates recovery

September has been recognized as National Recovery Month since 1989

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Pittsboro’s George Greger-Holt has worked for decades in Chatham County serving and supporting youth and youth programs. As the community outreach coordinator for Chatham Drug Free — a position he’s held since 2013 — Greger-Holt leads the organization’s educational efforts and programming and coordinates with CDF partners on a wide array of initiatives.

This week, we spoke to Greger-Holt about the upcoming Chatham County Recovery Celebration on Sept. 10 in Siler City. Among other things, Greger-Holt highlighted the county’s continued commitment to help those suffering from drug addiction.

A 1977 graduate of Elmira College, Greger-Holt earned a masters of education from UNC-Chapel Hill. He worked in a variety of positions for Chatham County Schools from 1991 until his retirement from CCS in 2013. He’s been the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for his work, including the GlaxoSmithKline Lifetime Achievement Award for Student Health in 2010, the Margaret B. Pollard Outstanding Community Service Award in 2009, and the North Carolina Governor’s Academy for Prevention Professionals Award of Appreciation in 2007.

What exactly is the Chatham County Recovery Celebration?

The Chatham County Recovery Celebration is a community-wide, family-friendly event to celebrate those of us who are in recovery from addiction and mental illness. This will be the third annual Recovery Celebration in Chatham County and coincides with National Recovery Month.

The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 10, from noon – 3 p.m. along the block of the Arts Incubator in Siler City.

The celebration will acknowledge the bravery, hard work and persistence of people who are proudly living in recovery as well as send a message of hope and encouragement to those who have yet to begin their journey.

The Recovery Celebration is made possible by Vaya Health, Crest View Recovery Center, Central Electric Membership Corporation, Chatham Drug Free, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Siler City Police Department, Chatham County Government, Chatham County Public Health Department and all the performers, speakers and vendors who have graciously agreed to support the event.

What can people expect if they attend?

There will be free food from Will and Pop’s, On Da Roll and The Quiltmaker Café, activities for children, music by Chatham County natives Cecile Jordan and Jordan Pickett as well as guest speakers and testimonials. Local and regional agencies will be on hand to describe their programs and vendors will provide free materials and promotional items.

Is this an event only for people in recovery?

No, this is a family-friendly event for all. By coming out to the Recovery Celebration, you’ll be signaling to those in recovery and those who have not yet taken that step that you support their life as a recovering person. If you are in recovery, come and share fellowship with other recovering individuals and spread the serenity and hope that you have found.

Why is it necessary to celebrate recovery?

Many people who struggle with addiction cannot see that there is another way to live. Addiction is a spiritually and emotionally debilitating disease that robs people of the ability to see himself, herself or themselves as someone free of drug use. Celebrating recovery and hearing and meeting people in recovery helps those people see that a different way of living is possible and hopefully encourages them to seek help to achieve it.

Does the stigma of addiction and mental illness and the shame that accompanies it affect whether people seek treatment?

Stigma and shame are huge problems and play a major role in preventing people from seeking treatment. Addiction is viewed by professionals as a chronic, progressive and, if left untreated, fatal disease. Unfortunately, many of the old myths about addiction and mental illness and those who suffer from them still persist. Events like the Recovery Celebration attempt to put a face on those diseases, break down stigma and dispel many of those myths. We want to do our best to remove the stigma by continuously talking about recovery and highlighting community resources.

What is harm reduction and how can that help?

While many people are not yet ready to begin their recovery journey, there are ways that they can minimize the risk of overdose and death. Harm reduction techniques like needle exchange programs, supervised use, substance testing for fentanyl and other additives, training in the use of Narcan and knowledge of the Good Samaritan 911 law can help people stay alive while they are preparing for their entry in to recovery.

Where can people get help?

Those seeking treatment can call the Vaya Health Access to Care Line at 800-849-6127 or visit the Chatham Health Alliance/Chatham County Public Health Department Substance Use Resource Page at www.chathamnc.org/recovery, Mental Health Resource Page at www.chathamnc.org/mentalhealth, Chatham Drug Free On-Line Resources and Programs page at www.chathamdrugfree.org/resources and SAMHSA Treatment Locator at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator.

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