Sean Willits, Hot Springs Police Department peer recovery specialist, will give out gift bags for Christmas In Recovery on Monday at the local Harbor House and on Wednesday at Sozo Recovery Center in Jessieville.
Willits, a former drug addict in recovery, is now working out of the department as a peer recovery support specialist as part of a program designed to help recovering drug addicts get the resources they need to get clean.
Willits says when he was going through recovery Jimmy McGill, author of “From Prison to Purpose,” reached out in a similar fashion, which motivated him to pay it forward.
“Like five years ago, I was in a treatment center in Little Rock on Christmas Day. And so Jimmy McGill did that. He brought this type of stuff into us in the treatment center. And you know, it gave me hope. And here I am five years later doing this for people,” Willits said.
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Gift bags are filled with several items, “in each one there’s a copy of McGill’s book. There’s a hoodie, which says ‘Recover Outloud.’ And then there’s either an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) book. So we got that and then there’s a notebook, toothpaste, toothbrush, you know, toiletry items, pens, bookmarks and washcloth and soap and stuff like that,” Willits said, noting, “The NA and AA place in Hot Springs donated the books for this.”
Willits explained that the meaning behind the slogan on the hoodie is to “address the stigma. It’s like the way things are in society now. People are really embarrassed about being in recovery. Or like they have a family member or a loved one with addiction. They don’t want to talk about it. And it prevents people from getting the help that they need. So, that’s what ‘Recovery Outloud’ means … trying to break the stigma when somebody is in recovery … not to be so secretive about it. It’s just a thing that people go through and that people overcome.”
Willits “reached out to the community … people that are in recovery in the community and just people in the community, and asked for help.”
“So people have donated money and things. And this is to put these gift bags together for people that are in drug treatment on Christmas Day. Because, you know, they’re in treatment, so they don’t have access to their phone whenever they want. They can’t go see their families, you know, and so this is like a thing that maybe can kind of give them a little bit of hope, you know, if they stay on the right path.”
“We’re bringing in food from a Mexican restaurant. They don’t get special food. They eat whatever they’ve got in the treatment center. So we’re bringing them some food,” Willits said.
He says he looks forward to going to “speak to them, and talk to them … hang out with them. And hopefully, it will just give them a little bit of hope for the future. Because a lot of these people have gone to drug treatment eight different times and they keep failing. This is the kind of a thing you have to look forward to and hopefully, they’ll one day do this for people that need it.”
Print Headline: WATCH: With Christmas In Recovery, HSPD spreads hope to recovering addicts
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