Free Opioid Crisis Presentation and Play in Providence

“Owning Our Story: About the Opioid Overdose Epidemic” includes TED Talk-style presentations from local speakers, interactive skits and small scenes performed from COAAST’s acclaimed play, Four Legs to Stand On.

If you or someone you know has been affected by the opioid crisis, there is a free presentation and play, “Owning Our Story: About the Opioid Overdose Epidemic,” that will be performed at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence on January 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. Attending might lift some of that burden off of you and your loved ones’ shoulders.

In only five years, more than 1,200 Rhode Islanders have lost their lives to overdose, and many more friends and family members have suffered from these losses. “Owning Our Story: About the Opioid Overdose Epidemic” includes TED Talk-style presentations from local speakers, interactive skits and small scenes performed  from COAAST’s acclaimed play, Four Legs to Stand On, about a family in crisis over an adult child’s drug addiction.

The free community event has been organized by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the organization Creating Outreach About Addiction Support Together (COAAST). Guest speaker Dr. Josiah Rich, MD, MPH, will give a presentation on “Opioid Use Disorder: Understanding the Stigma and the Disease.” He is a professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, a  physician at the Miriam Hospital and expert advisor to Governor Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

Army combat veteran Paul Kandarian will speak about “War and Addiction: The Battle on Two Fronts,” which focuses on his service in Afghanistan and as a former member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.  Alyssa Sullivan, yoga teacher, author and speaker will also present “Transcending the Story: The Healing Path of Connection.”

It is an evening for those who are struggling with addiction to come together to learn and find ways to seek help. It is an evening for family members and friends to show support. “There are stories of love behind every single person who we have lost to addiction, and there are stories of hope and redemption behind every person living in recovery,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, who co-chairs Governor Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. “This event on January 15th will allow some of those stories to be voiced, and it will allow us to send the message together that there is zero shame in stepping forward and saying that you need help.”

The playwright of Four Legs to Stand On, South Kingstown native Ana Bess, who is also the founder and executive director of COAAST, has been leading performances around the area to help others heal. “The mission of Owning Our Story is to educate Rhode Islanders about addiction as a chronic disease, create healing around loss from overdose, rally around recovery, and shed conversational light on the stigma, pain and shame of the disease,” she says. “Drama therapy allows clients to practice healthy interpersonal skills, foster relationships, express their emotions, explore a drug-free future, and act out negative behaviors associated with the disease to consider the harmful impact in a concrete way. We cannot escape the stories that shape our lives, no matter how painful. Only in bringing them into the light can we re-write their endings.”

View the Owning Our Story Facebook event or call 401-598-6061 for more information. For Rhode Island opioid overdose data and local treatment and recovery resources, people can visit PreventOverdoseRI.org or call 401-942-7867.

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