Oregon Recovers, a new statewide campaign that aims “to take Oregon from last to first in access and availability to addiction treatment and recovery services,” is holding an event this weekend to create greater awareness of its mission on the state level.
Oregon Recovers Rally For Recovery will be held on Saturday, September 30th from 10 am to 12 pm at Shemanski Park, located at 1010 SW Park Ave in Portland. Confirmed speakers at the event include Rep. Tawna Sanchez (D) and Rep. Knute Buehler (R). William C. Moyers, vice president of public affairs and community relations at the Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation, will serve as the keynote speaker.
“The goal is to take Oregon from last in treatment accessibility to first over five years,” said Tony Vezina, executive director at 4th Dimension Recovery Center and one of the event’s organizers. “What we’re trying to do is similar to the hospital model, where nurses and doctors are on staff - regardless of how much service is being provided, but in case a service needs to be provided. That’s what we’re looking to do in Oregon.”
The organizers encourage those who have lost someone to addiction to bring an old shoe to the event to help illustrate the massive toll taken by the disease. The shoes will be piled in front of the speaker’s podium, serving as a stark reminder of the need for reform.
“It’s a way to represent the impact of what’s going on right now,” Vezina explained. “Write down the name of a person who died due to the opioid epidemic, or other addiction-related circumstances. They put that person’s name on the sole, to represent a soul.”
The rally organizers also want to emphasize the need for addiction recovery reform leadership that's made up of people actively in recovery, or who at least work within the addiction treatment space.
“A gynecologist was appointed to oversee addiction policy from the Oregon Health Authority,” Vezina said. “That to me speaks to the institutional discrimination toward people in recovery.”
Vezina sees the rally as just the first step in Oregon Recovers' five-year grassroots effort to pressure the state legislature into enacting real change in addiction accessibility policy.
“What I want to see happen is the recovery community galvanized around this initiative, because they’ll be the ones driving it. I want to see people in recovery being empowered and taking action, and to be seen as a recognized constituency,” Vezina said. “Recovering people know what it takes to help people recover.”