Southern Oregon residents walk together for addiction recovery
When it comes to alcohol and drug abuse, Oregon has the fourth-highest addiction rate across the country. In the efforts to help combat this, Rogue Valley residents came together to fight the statewide crisis.
"Recovery is hard work," state senator Jeff Golden said. "It's not something you just kind of decide to do."
An estimated 200 Southern Oregon residents in addiction recovery and their loved ones met at Hawthorne Park Friday evening to participate in the region's first-ever Walk for Recovery.
"When addiction is a part of your life and so is recovery," Oregon Recovers' Seahdom Edmo said. "You support your family members who are in recovery and you show up for them."
The organization said the goal of the event is to call on state and federal lawmakers to fight the state's addiction crisis. Addiction experts said untreated addiction costs the state almost $6 billion every year.
"I want to thank you because we cannot have the Oregon we want for our kids and their kids if we don't address this in a smart way," Golden said.
Together, the group walked past local recovery centers, justice buildings, and health departments to display the path to recovery. Last week, Jackson County commissioners and Medford City Council declared addiction as a public crisis.
"I know that the resources here in southern Oregon are growing tremendously," Medford resident and former addict Justin Hon said. "There are a lot more accessible than they were in previous years."
Those local resources, such as the Maslow Project, were also present at the event to connect with the community.
"Notice that I didn't say failed system. I think it's fractured and incomplete," Edmo said. "That's because there are a lot of amazing people working in the system to save lives every day."
Friday's walk was one out of four across the state, hosted by Oregon Recovers. Later this month, there are additional walks taking place in Eugene and Portland.