Hundreds of people in blue-and-white T-shirts circled a park in Hartford yesterday, some of them proudly wearing purple sashes bearing the number of years they have been sober or drug free, the Hartford Courant reports. The sixth annual Walk for Recovery was sponsored by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). The group’s slogan is “putting a face on recovery,” and the numbers on the sashes – 15, 17, 20 – are a way of letting others know what a recovering alcoholic or drug addict looks like. “I’m your co-worker, I’m your neighbor,” said Bonnie Coleman, 36. “This event provides hope to people who are still struggling with their addiction and shows the general public what life looks like in recovery.”
Alcohol and drug addiction “is where breast cancer used to be 25 years ago,” when people didn’t want to talk about it, said Phillip Valentine, executive director of CCAR, who wore a sash with the number 17. “We’re here to say that it’s OK to talk about it, because 10 percent of the adult population are affected by this, yet it’s still in the closet,” he said said. “And 80 percent of those who are addicted are employed. They are very likely someone you see at work every day.” The annual walk is intended to help lift the stigma of addiction and to show that recovery is possible, said Tony Taschner, board president of CCAR, who wore a sash with the number 27.