Annual Passaic County walk spotlights substance abuse recovery

Source: North
An estimated 700 people who joined in Passaic County’s fourth annual Recovery Walk, a steamy two-mile trudge meant to raise awareness of the step-by-step struggle against addiction and mental illness.
The event was held to commemorate September as National Recovery Month, and brought together people in recovery, their supporters and counselors at the programs, which include Eva’s Village and Turning Point. The walkers set off from the Passaic County courthouse complex on Hamilton Street for the two-mile trek through some of the city’s drug-ravaged neighborhoods and on to Eastside Park. The mood was upbeat, if a little fatigued, as the walkers streamed into the park around 11 a.m.
“We’re raising awareness that recovery can and does work,” said Mike Santillo, the director of clinical services for Eva’s Village. “Everyone has heard about the devastation caused by drugs. But we are here to say that recovery works, that people actually get better.”
One of the marchers, Edwin Feliciano, held a sign that said “I’ll walk the extra mile.” Feliciano said his message was to stay positive and take things one step at a time. “I’ll walk the extra mile to give hope and strength,” he said. “I’ll walk to change a life around.”
Santillo said clinical approaches to combating drug and alcohol abuse are evolving and there is a renewed focus on mental illness. People with anxiety, depression and schizophrenia are often at a higher risk to develop substance abuse problems.
The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that nearly one in five adults in the United States— 43 million people — suffered from some form of mental illness, such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. The survey also found that 22 million people have been classified as either being substance dependent or abusers.
Francine Vince, the director of mental health and addiction services for Passaic County, said government has moved toward seeing substance abuse and mental illness as, in effect, two sides of the same coin. At the same time, the trend is away from punishment and toward seeing substance abuse as a medical problem, she said.
Vince said anyone who wants help with a mental health issue or substance abuse problem can start by calling 973-881-2834.

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