Amanda Priddell shared her story of how she became addicted to opioids and her difficult journey to overcome her addiction on Red Deer Recovery Day. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Red Deerians headed out to Recovery Day despite the rain

Speakers talk about how they overcame their addictions

By Robin Grant

Red Deer Express

The rain didn’t stop Red Deerians from taking part in the 5th annual Red Deer Recovery Day on Saturday.

A large crowd gathered in City Hall Park to hear from speakers who have overcome their addictions to talk about recovering, as well as share some inspiring words.

“Addicts deserve to be treated with human rights,” said speaker Amanda Priddell. “I remember what that was like when people wouldn’t even meet my eye and when they didn’t know how to act around me so they pretended I wasn’t there.

“I needed people more back then and so I really work to remember that and try and reach out to the people struggling just as much as I would reach out to someone who is doing well,” Priddell told the crowd.

Krista Black, the event coordinator with Red Deer Recovery Day, said Red Deer Recovery Day aims to help people focus on recovering from their addictions.

“We’re trying to reduce the stigma around the word addiction,” she said. “We’re trying to focus on the solution to the problem, which is recovery. We are bringing together all the resources in the community that provide services to help people facilitate their recovery and find their pathway to recovery.”

Black added that people who suffer from addiction and substance abuse are not supported enough in society.

“We’d like to improve the quality of life for those people and improve their chances of getting well and if they feel shunned or stigmatized or not welcome, they are less likely to get the help that they need.”

The event also featured a number of organizations and support systems that help people recover from addiction and substance abuse, such as ‘I Recover’, a private rehab in the City that specializes in treating substance, drug and alcohol abuse.

Michael Wyntjes, who said he is celebrating 11 months of sobriety, came out to help spread awareness about addiction and substance abuse, which he calls a ‘disease.’

“We haven’t properly educated ourselves about what we are dealing with,” he said.

“The key to all our solutions is open mindedness and education. If we can’t properly educate ourselves, we cannot be properly aware. We need to get everyone involved.”

City Councillor Buck Buchanan said addiction affects a large population of people in the City.

He said, “A lot of times, people think that addiction is a character weakness and think it is a choice, but when you have an addiction or mental health issue, it is not a choice.”