Who's not on a road to Recovery?

Who's not on a road to Recovery?

By Julie Sherwood / jsherwood@messengerpostmedia.com

Posted Feb 23, 2019 at 10:19 PM Updated Feb 23, 2019 at 10:19 PM

  

The Community Support Center is expanding its mission of helping people connect and live better

CANANDAIGUA — Everyone is battling something.

For Erin Pownall Burns, recovery from drug addiction has been a significant battle. In high school she discovered alcohol helped wash away her feelings of not being good enough. From there she tried other substances. Her drugs of choice were uppers — cocaine, methamphetamine and eventually, crack cocaine.

Burns, 32, who grew up in Naples and now lives in Canandaigua, became sober in 2016. That is the year she checked herself into a psychiatric ward and came to a realization.

“I am supposed to be in rehab,” she recalled in sharing her story this week over a cup of coffee at a local cafe.

Burns said she believes she has a genetic vulnerability to addiction, and thinks that predisposition, along with her excessive and persistent exposure to drugs and alcohol, brought her to a point where she didn’t have the power to make another choice.

“I had to use,” she said.

Burns shares her experience with a lot of people these days in helping others going through similar struggles in her work as a certified recovery peer advocate.

Peer advocates are people with life experience with substance use — either themselves or through a loved one — who use that experience to support the recovery goals of those using drugs and/or alcohol. Along with being a peer advocate, Burns is now also trained to train others for the peer certification, a position needed by local agencies such as Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency, or FLACRA.

Renae Campbell is acting coordinator of the Community Support Center in Canandaigua, which sponsored Burns to become a trainer. Campbell said that Burns, with her life experience and personal strengths in connecting with people, makes an ideal peer advocate and trainer. Burns is also helping the center expand its mission.

Explaining her road to sobriety, Burns said she first met Campbell though mutual connections.

“Everybody kept telling me, ″You have got to meet this lady, you’re going to love her,’” Burns said.

That led to her eventually doing an internship with the Community Support Center.

“This is when I really stopped running away from using and started aspiring toward something else. Renae played a major role in that — I don’t know where I would be without her faith and encouragement,” Burns said.

The support center operates under the nonprofit Partnership for Ontario County and offers free individual and family counseling and wellness programs. Its philosophy is summed up on its Facebook page: “Everyone is healing from something in life, our philosophy is let’s do it together. Our mission is building healthy lives through connection, purpose and creativity.”

Campbell, a licensed social worker and teacher at Finger Lakes Community College, said the center brings together people from all walks of life, who face all kinds of challenges that may include recovering from addiction.

One way the Community Support Center is bringing people together: Its wellness activities at Canandaigua CrossFit, 699 S. Main St., include yoga, fitness and creative programs at designated days and times. CrossFit owner/trainer Stefan Glover has been instrumental in helping participants in these activities.

“He is our catalyst for wellness, providing a safe environment for both mental and physical growth,” Campbell said. People can find out what’s going on there and when via Instagram and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thecommunitysupportcenter/). The programs are free and there is no need to register ahead.

“Just show up,” Campbell said.

Burns said what is going on at CrossFit is “an amazing experience.” She talked about the fun of it and also how powerful it is. Campbell explained it as feeling safe, vulnerable and finding strength in yourself and in connecting with other people.

The Community Support Center, headquartered at 120 N. Main St., continues to expand offerings such as the programs at CrossFit, and eventually hopes to operate its own wellness center. The center will ideally have a number of certified recovery peer advocates like Burns, who is helping get the word out. She recently updated the Canandaigua Rotary Club on what the Community Support Center is up to.

A wife and mother who is now completing a bachelor’s degree, Burns recalled when she turned sober she faced a slew of new challenges. She described “a big learning curve” to begin functioning in a healthy way. Part of her transition was deciding not to bury her experience with addiction but to use it to help others, she said.

“For me, recovery has shifted into something beautiful,” Burns said. “Something that I want to share because it is too unimaginable to just talk about.”

SELFIES and the STAGES OF CHANGE

SELFIES and the STAGES OF CHANGE

0