Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

May 13, 2014

Recovery Fest celebrates kicking addiction

The Independent

ASHLAND — The wet weather no doubt impacted the size of the crowd at Saturday’s Recovery Fest 2014 at Veterans Riverfront Park in Ashland, but there were plenty of reasons for addicts who are now drug free to celebrate and for speakers like State Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, and others to talk about the impact the prescription drug epidemic has had on this region and for others to distribute literature and offer words of encouragement that could convince some to seek help in their battle with their drug addictions.

There also was live musical entertainment, free food and drinks, door prizes and powerful testimonials from addicts who have ceased using drugs and are now leading productive lives.

One of those recovering addicts is Robb Oldham who has gone from being a heavy user of drugs to founding the Boyd Addiction Resource Center, the nonprofit organization that sponsored Recovery Fest 2014. While disappointed that the rain probably kept many from attending Recovery Fest 2014, Oldham said he never considered postponing the event because of the weather.

During the height of his drug use, Oldham said he would go to almost any lengths to obtain drugs to feed his habit. Now that he has been drug-free since Dec. 29, 2008, Oldham said he was not about the let a little rain keep him from celebrating with other recovering addicts and from encouraging those still using drugs to get help,

In addition to celebrating with others who have kicked their habits, Oldham said he just wanted those attending the daylong event to have fun.

“I want to show people that it is possible to have fun sober,” Oldham said. “Back when I was using, I never went to a concert sober, I never did anything sober.”

Had he continued abusing drugs, Oldham could have very well been dead by now as one of the many grim statistics from this region’s drug epidemic. Instead, Oldham founded an organization that has earned the praise of Sen. Webb for the positive work it is doing. Webb said in addition to serving in the Kentucky legislature, she has seen the impact of the region’s drug problem first hand as a defense attorney. She said many crimes occur in this region just to feed drug habits.

To illustrate just how widespread the drug problem is in this region, Oldham pointed to the children running through the small crowd, pointing out that many were the offspring of drug users and some may have been born addicted to drugs. He then pointed to a man in his 70s who was a sponsor.

“It affects everyone, from them to him,” Oldham said. Indeed it does.

Last year’s first Recovery Fest was much smaller, being limited to a candlelight vigil. Next year, Oldham said he hopes to expand it to a two-day event, preferably with sunny skies instead of at times heavy rains.

We like the idea behind Recovery Fest because addicts who have ceased using drugs have reason to celebrate and to tell anyone willing to listen that you can conquer your addictions. They have a message that those who are still using drugs need to hear.