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  • In Fitchburg, the art of recovery

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    February 20, 2018

    In Fitchburg, the art of recovery

    By Julia Sarcinelli, Correspondent
    UPDATED:   02/09/2018 07:02:55 AM EST

    FITCHBURG -- The Fitchburg Art Museum Community Gallery was filled Sunday for its new exhibit, "The Opioid Project."

    "I'm just really grateful. It makes my heart full to see everyone come together and actually care," said Charlie Draleau, whose painting "On Recovery" is featured in the exhibit.

    The exhibit features paintings by 15 people with first-hand experience with addiction. The paintings are paired with auditory clips from the artists themselves. It will be on display until Feb. 25.

    Draleau previously lived in Fitchburg and struggled with addiction for 15 years.

    "The stigma is that these are bad people. In reality, there's extreme discomfort in every one of them. Drugs became their vice, and ultimately it takes their life," said Draleau.



    "It's sad, but that this is here for everyone to see is a huge thing."

    Annie Brewster, a physician and founder of Health Story Collaborative, began "The Opioid Project" with visual artist Nancy Marks. They ran workshops engaging addicts in recovery or family members of those who have passed away from an overdose with art and storytelling.

    "We came together around wanting to address the stigma primarily around the opioid epidemic and realizing what a huge public health problem it is," said Brewster.

    Christopher P. LoConto, the presiding judge of Fitchburg District Court, said his ultimate goal is to change people's way of thinking about themselves, their addiction and their recovery.


    "My door is always open and I'm always happy to get more educated and to listen," said LoConto. "I know there are going to be struggles ahead -- we got a lot of battles to face -- but we're going to win on this battlefield, and it's already started."

    Woody Giessman, a licensed alcohol drug abuse counselor and founder of the substance use disorder program Right Turn, spoke of his own struggle with addiction and was joined by Paul Size and Gregory DeSimone to play music, leading the audience in "All You Need Is Love," by The Beatles.

    "I think it's a very powerful statement that the community really wants to find a solution and help people who need help," he said.

    Hillary Mullan, a medical student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, worked with the Joint Coalition On Health's Listening to Unheard Voices project and spoke with recovering addicts.

    "I want to encourage you to share your stories," she said. "I know they are difficult to tell, but I do believe these are single most powerful weapon we have."

    For those who may have struggled with addiction or who personally knows someone who has, Marks encouraged them to take others to see the exhibit.

    "Maybe you can't tell them your own story, but maybe you can introduce them to somebody else's," she said.



    Read more: http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31655064/fitchburg-art-recovery#ixzz57ek4F0jj
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