Phoenix expo to offer help for addicts, families

PHOENIX – Barbara Brown was 14 when she started abusing drugs and alcohol. For the next 24 years, she spiraled into a severe addiction – blacking out every night, waking up every morning hungover and endangering herself and those around her.

One day in 1990, Brown’s sister called her and the tone in her sister’s voice caught Brown’s attention.

“It was, ‘We’re finished if you don’t get help. That’s it.’ And she slammed the phone down so hard I could still hear it ringing in my ear,” Brown said.

She was shocked. Brown called a friend who had been sober for years and admitted to her friend that she was addicted to alcohol.

“It all had to stop, or else I’d be dead,” Brown said.

Eleven years ago, Brown decided to use her sobriety to help other addicts. The Scottsdale resident and her late husband founded the Art of Recovery Exposition, an event to educate, bring awareness and offer help to those suffering with addiction.

The exposition is held every year in September during National Recovery Month – a month for people with mental and substance use disorders and to celebrate those in recovery.

Art of Recovery will showcase treatment options for many types of addiction, from alcoholism to gambling, and the event will focus on help for youth and adolescents.

Phoenix-based Alcoholism and Addiction Assistance Association, or 5A, will exhibit at the expo. Joseph Maes, the executive director of the transitional living center and 12-step program, said the Art of Recovery is a way to let both people suffering with addiction and their family and friends know what treatments and therapies are available in the Valley.

“They get an opportunity to go into this large hall and see all these different organizations and kind of like, ‘Oh wow! I could really use this kind of help’ … or ‘Wow! I didn’t even know this was available in Phoenix,'” Maes said.

The expo will feature more than 60 exhibitors, including counselors, treatment centers, associations, therapists and others and will host a number of workshops. Keynote speaker Greg Williams, an award-winning filmmaker and health policy advocate who is in long-term recovery from a drug and alcohol addiction, will introduce his film “The Anonymous People,” scheduled to be shown throughout the day.

The expo will be held from 9:30 a.m to 4 p.m. Saturday at Phoenix Convention Center.