Overcoming addiction: Walk pushes for state action

MEDFORD, Ore. — Nearly one week after Jackson County officials declared a public crisis over the drug epidemic, they’re joining forces with addiction recovery groups.

Officials partnered with Oregon Recovers Friday evening and held a “Walk for Recovery” at Hawthorne Park in Medford, a benefit walk that’s also a call on state and federal legislators to support a new plan to end Oregon’s addiction crisis.

“You don’t ever have to use again even if you want to,” said Danielle Standford, a former addict in long-term recovery. Stanford’s struggle with addiction started in high school, her drug and alcohol use had her in and out of jail. “I got into a lot of trouble doing that,” she said. “I ruined my life basically.” After 10 years of active addiction, she hit her breaking point—losing her job, her friends, her life as she knew it.

“I wasn’t able to stop using despite the negative consequences that were happening to me,” said Stanford, “I knew I had to get clean and sober but I just didn’t know how.” She said that gift of desperation is how she found recovery.

“I had a team of people helping me,” she said. “I went through mental health, psychiatry, parole and probation, alcohol and drug team… all surrounding me to help me become successful.”

Now two years clean and sober, Stanford spends most of her time giving back, like at the Walk For Recovery. “There’s not enough places when people are ready for treatment to get help,” Stanford said.

A recent study found Oregon has the fourth highest addiction rate in the nation and the least amount of access to treatment. “I think our lawmakers have the best intentions but we need more money,” said Eddie Wallace with OnTrack. “We need better reimbursement for behavioral healthcare in our community.”

Organizers and participants hope the event will raise the awareness needed to create change. “I think the community is really joining together and there’s a new spirit of hope and cooperation that I’m sensing,” Wallace said, “which can only help us out in the long run.” “Come together and create a movement where people can recover and we have access to that,” said Stanford.

Advocates said when cities take a public stand there’s more pressure for those on the state level to get something done.

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