National Recovery month shines light on York recovery community

Noel Miller
York Dispatch

The York Partnership for Recovery is celebrating National Recovery Month across the county for the 12th year. 

Recovery month is "to show community support for people in recovery. [To] let them know they can have fun in recovery. There's a lot of support in York, Pennsylvania, for those seeking recovery or in long term recovery," said Julie Hess, the partnership president. 

Overdose and overdose-related deaths are a constant and increasing problem in York County and across the state. In 2021, there were 5,331 drug-related deaths statewide, a 3% increase from 2020, the Pennsylvania Office of Drug Surveillance and Misuse Prevention reported, and 139 of these overdoses were in York County. 

Recovery Day at the Peoples Bank Park in 2017

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The York County chapter of Not One More, a national 501(c)(3) that seeks to educate and raise awareness about addiction, wants to forge a human connection to these statistics.

"The idea is to put a face to the numbers," said Mary Dolheimer, the chapter's secretary/ treasurer.

Not One More York has several banners they take to events with the pictures and names of people of who died while battling addiction,  Dolheimer said. 

Hearing the overdose statistics is one thing but seeing banners with the faces of about 30 people, their names, birth and death dates and cause of death listed, is much more impactful, she said. 

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In addition to awareness and remembrance, there are also many celebrations during the month. Celebrations seek to bring the recovery community — those in recovery, those seeking to enter recovery, family members of those in recovery and those affected by the loss of a love one to addiction — together. 

The partnership is a group of local recovery organizations that plan and hold events each September, Hess said. This year, they kicked off recovery month with an annual overdose awareness event on Aug. 27. 

Among the many events, Recovery Day at PeoplesBank Stadium on Saturday will be the highlight of the month, Hess aid. This year it will be a "grand slam picnic" with games, behind-the-scenes tours, face painting and more, a partnership Facebook post said.

While tickets for the picnic are sold out, the game at 6 p.m. is still open to the public. Tickets for the game are $10 when purchased through yorkrevolution.com/groupthemes, and 50% of the ticket cost will be donated to the York Recovery Committee. 

While Recovery Day is often the highlight of the month, other annual events also have a large turnout. Not One More York held their annual 5K last Saturday in John Rudy Park with 1,000 participants. 

The 5K is a massive gathering of the recovery community, Dolheimer said. In addition to the race, 400 to 500 people come out just to connect with and support others.

Beyond Recovery Month, Not One More York works to educate and help the community year round, Dolheimer said. 

"All of us [organizations in the partnership] are out there pushing, trying to reduce stigma, trying to have people understand that addiction is a disease. It is not a choice and as a disease it should be treated." she said. 

Another way to get involved with National Recovery month is participating is the "Post your Purple Campaign." 

The partnership encouraged residents to get involved in the campaign, which is aimed at raising awareness for recovery. In 1989, when National Recovery Month was established, the founders chose purple to represent the movement, according to the York City Health Bureau. 

Residents, businesses and organizations can participate by putting up purple lights, banners, flags and balloons outside of homes and buildings, taking a picture and posting it online with #Recovery4York and #PostYourPurple. 

More information and a full list of recovery month events can be found at the York Health Bureau website or the York Partnership for Recovery Facebook Page

— Reach Noel Miller at NMiller3@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @TheNoelM.