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At the recent Mobilize Recovery conference in Nevada are national recovery advocate and author Ryan Hampton, left, with Wyoming County advocate John Fabiseski.

My name is John Fabiseski. I am person in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that my substance use condition is in remission and I have not used drugs or alcohol since Jan. 26, 2014. Directly because of my recovery I am a husband to my wife, a father to my children, and a grandfather to my grandchildren.

I am employable today and work as a Primary Therapist at Banyan Clearbrook Treatment Centers, a contracted trainer of Certified Recovery Specialists for the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance, and Chapter Lead for Young People in Recovery Northeast Pennsylvania, working with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to combat the stigma around substance. I am also a graduate of the Wyoming/Sullivan Treatment Court Program. This program provided me the resources to become the responsible and productive citizen of Wyoming County I am today.

I have obtained my Associate in Applied Science in the Human Services Program at Luzerne County Community College, hold credentials in the state of Pennsylvania as a Certified Recovery Specialist and Certified Peer Specialist, and I am further perusing my education at Misericordia University’s Social Work Program. My greatest passion lies in advocacy for individuals and families in Northeast Pennsylvania impacted by substance use conditions.

This past June I submitted an application and was one of 150 advocates across the United States selected to attend Mobilize Recovery in Las Vegas, Nev., for three days in July. As part of its commitment to address the addiction epidemic, the Voices Project convened the first ever Mobilize Recovery conference.

The conference kicked off a massive national effort to organize and train hundreds of carefully selected individuals and advocacy groups from all 50 states, to work together and maximize impact to end America’s addiction crisis. Mobilize Recovery is one of 100 projects worldwide selected as a part of Facebook’s Community Leadership Project initiative. Conceived and organized by Facebook Community Leadership Fellow, national recovery advocate and author Ryan Hampton, the conference married powerful social media platforms with the most urgent public health crisis.

“This historic conference follows in the footsteps of other successful social justice movements such as the civil rights movement, ACT UP’s work during the AIDS crisis, and the fight for LGBTQ rights,” said Hampton, founder of The Voices Project and person in recovery from opioid use disorder. “As a mobilized, civicly engaged constituency of consequence, Mobilize Recovery will turn the tide of the epidemic and create sustainable change at every level.”

Grassroots advocacy groups and individuals from around the country applied and were selected based on their demonstrated record of successful outcomes combatting addiction and supporting recovery. Mobilize Recovery is building capacity for organized civic advocacy around the country. The conference has identified, trained, connected, and worked with recovery advocates nationally. Each of the selected community organizers has lived experience with substance use disorders. The proposal to Facebook was to convene this training and action-oriented event to give communities the tools needed to combat the addiction crisis. This is the first time this has happened and with Facebook’s support represents a major turning point in the nation’s approach to combatting the addiction crisis.

The subject matter of the conference identified the issues impacting local and regional communities specific to addiction; gave the attendees the tools to combat those issues via messaging training, legislative training, media training, connected leaders with like-minded change makers in their region, and created a network of emerging leaders dedicated to being the boots on the ground in their communities to create change and end the addiction crisis. 

Having been selected to attend this historic event my primary goal was to obtain the knowledge and experience needed to address our challenges specifically in Wyoming County. During the event attendance, it soon became clear that there is significantly more we need to be doing in our community. Communities across the country that have dedicated resources to impacting change have addressed them as public health crisis and not one of a Moral failing. In my five years of dedicated research into building recovery ready communities there has been one constant issue that has thwarted our advocacy efforts in Wyoming County.

Substance use conditions do not discriminate, yet some of our community have a deep-rooted belief that all people who misuse drugs or alcohol are criminals and or have a moral failing. The opioid epidemic has only further solidified this belief and has led to community members to act on fear and miseducation. ‘Not-In-My-BackYard’ or what is known as NIMBY Syndrome has created barriers to implementing and accessing required services and supports for individuals and families. The thinking that these services will bring in those people is askew; we are already here.

There are 24 million people in the United States that identify as a person in recovery and without access to these services we continue the cycle of addiction, increase recidivism, strain county budgets, and support negative perceptions of those seeking assistance. Every dollar we spend to support recovery programs has a direct return on $7 in societal benefits.

It takes a village! If we are divided in our perceptions on the largest health crisis facing our communities today, then we are doomed to repeat the failures of our past. Preconceived beliefs and uneducated opinions on addiction are dividing us as a community. There are many challenges we face to combat the addiction crisis in Wyoming County.

Coming together as a community and facing these challenges is our civic responsibility.