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Kiwis' Walk to Celebrate Freedom from Addiction


He Hikoi Mātūtū - Addiction Recovery Walk a First for NZ - Saturday Dec 7.

"Recovery blossoms through role models and examples, in a cascade of hope and belief. The collective power and potential of a diverse group of people sharing their personal (yet shared) achievement is transformative and challenges stigma, exclusion and preconceptions”, Prof. David Best, UK Criminologist and international expert on recovery from addiction.

Kiwis in recovery from addiction are proudly taking to the streets in New Zealand's first ever Addiction Recovery Walk.

He Hikoi Mātūtū kicks off from Auckland’s Albert Park around 2pm on Saturday Dec 7.

Recovery walks are well established in the Northern Hemisphere. The aim is to dispel stigma around addiction, to demonstrate that recovery is possible, and to celebrate achievements.

The Northern Hemisphere events are known for being joyously unrestrained and regularly hilarious. New Zealand’s first Recovery Walk - He Hikoi Mātūtū - will follow suit as friends, families and whanau of people with addiction join the procession, along with workers in the addiction sector and allied services.

“We’re walking because we’re proud to be in recovery from active addiction, be it to alcohol, other drugs or gambling,” says Sue Paton, Executive Director of the Addiction Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa New Zealand (DAPAANZ). Sue has been in recovery for 28 years.

”We hear a lot about the health and social ills associated with addiction but not enough about the people, families, wider whānau and communities, who are positively affected by recovery.

People in recovery from addiction become our best citizens and it’s time for their faces and voices to be seen and heard.

Ms Paton says that He Hikoi Mātūtū is the start of a movement to change the conversation about addiction, treatment and recovery by shining a light on what actually works for people.

Walk coordinator, Suzy Morrison has been in recovery from addiction for 32 years. She says He Hikoi Mātūtū is an opportunity for people from different communities to come together to celebrate their freedom from addiction.

“There are many paths to recovery, and all are worthy of celebration. We welcome anyone who is in recovery, who knows someone in recovery, or is thinking about make changes that may lead to recovery.

Afterall, recovery is about wellbeing, engaging in society and making a positive contribution. We are living proof that recovery is not only not possible, it’s life changing,” she says.

He Hikoi Mātūtū sets out from Auckland’s Albert Park at 2pm, Saturday Dec 7. The route is down Bowen Street then up Queen Street to Myers Park where the celebration will continue until 6pm. There’ll be stalls, food, speakers and music. The speaking line-up includes Hayley Holt and Richie Hardcore with author Lotta Dann co-MCing festivities with Ken Kerehoma. Musicians include Sam Trevethick from Shapeshifter and Techniclr. (more performers to be announced).

He Hikoi Mātūtū is supported by the professional association for people working in addiction treatment, Dapaanz, and the consumer leadership Group, Matua Rai.

NB: Sue Paton, Suzy Morrison and the following people are all speakers at Myers Park. They are available for interview, either on the day or prior to He Hikoi Mātūtū. Feel free to user any of their quotes in your coverage.

MC Lotta Dann – author and editor of the Living Sober website.

"People in recovery are totally awesome - brave, inspirational and uplifting. I can't wait to gather with my fellow recovery heroes to walk the streets of Auckland, showing others that it's possible to break free from addiction and there's no shame in doing that."

‘Damo’ (Damian Holt) - Christchurch street artist and peer support worker

“I had my first taste of recovery 24 years ago after a serious suicide attempt. I relapsed a couple of times, but I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’ve been living sober, happy and healthy for the last 19 years.

A few years ago, I nearly died from the symptoms of HepC, which, unbeknownst to me, I'd contracted as a teenage drug user. I survived because I’d been in recovery, looking after my health and my body, for the previous 15 years. Recovery rocks on so many levels and physical health is one of them. It's great to finally have control over my life."

Mark Cowan – AOD practitioner, Paremoremo Prison

“I’ve just celebrated my 44th birthday and if it wasn’t for recovery, I can honestly say that I’d be in prison or dead. For 17 years I was in an out of prison, living the criminal life with no real understanding of why or the effect it was having on my own children and family.

I’ve been in recovery now for seven years, the best of my life. These days I’m all about my family, my community, my sport – I’m a rugby league player- and most of all my kids. Recovery is awesome.”

Richie Hardcore – former AOD worker, social campaigner and advocate for reduction in drug and alcohol harm

“Children of people affected by addiction can be profoundly shaped by our parents struggles. We have to rid ourselves of unhelpful coping mechanisms and ‘repack’ ourselves with new skills, knowledge and self-love so we can really thrive. Like all who have gone through the recovery process, we gain a richer and deeper understanding of ourselves, our relationships and the way we treat those around us.

It’s awesome to see growing awareness, support and services for those who struggle with their own substance use, but we also need to help those affected by that person. Early, and ongoing interventions for children of alcoholics and other problematic drug users could positively change the life path of any child exposed to the chaos that comes to living with an active user."


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