Philadelphia’s annual Recovery Walks! event aims to make recovery from addiction more visible

Nearly three out of four people who ever struggle with drug or alcohol use survive and go on to recovery, national estimates show.

People marching for recovery

File - Participants in the the 2018 Philadelphia Recovery walk begin the march through Old City Saturday morning at Penn's Landing. (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

Reports of drug overdoses and an alarming number of deaths remain at the forefront of discussions about addiction, which experts say is a grim reality of the current nationwide crisis.

But it can overshadow the fact that nearly three in four people who ever struggle with substance use survive and go on to live in recovery, according to national estimates.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard Sunday to recognize those in addiction recovery during PRO-ACT’s annual Recovery Walks! event.

The event will also mark the 25th anniversary of PRO-ACT, short for Pennsylvania Recovery Organization – Achieving Community Together. The grassroots organization advocates for accessible addiction treatment and recovery support services, increased public awareness, and reduced stigma.

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The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services is a co-sponsor of the event.

“This walk really does give us that opportunity to talk about the hope that comes with recovery,” said DBHIDS Commissioner Jill Bowen, “and to really emphasize recovery is real, recovery is possible, and let’s share those stories of success and victory.”

About 20.9 million adults in the U.S. who had ever struggled with alcohol or drug use reported that they are living in recovery, according to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

In Philadelphia, advocates, community leaders, and city officials will walk to bring more public awareness to addiction treatment and recovery.

Bowen said the local event recognizes successful components of recovery, including a larger supportive community and connection to others, especially to people who are also in recovery.

“Those with lived experience are a critical component and a critical part of the recovery community that really helps to make that link into treatment and into recovery more and more possible for people who are struggling,” she said.

On-site registration for Sunday’s walk opens at 8 a.m. at the Marine Parade Grounds, with an event kickoff at 9 a.m. Participants will complete a one-mile walk through the neighborhood. An anniversary celebration will follow at 1 p.m.

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The event coincides with the observation of National Recovery Month. Other related Philadelphia events in September include traveling art show “Always Beside You” by Philly HEALs, and workshops, trainings, and support groups organized through Healthy Minds Philly.

If you are seeking mental health or addiction treatment information and referrals in Philadelphia, call the DBHIDS Behavioral Health Special Initiative at 215-546-1200 or Community Behavioral Health at 888-545-2600.

If you or someone you know is in behavioral health crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can offer free, confidential support. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741, anytime. Spanish speakers can call 1-888-628-9454. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.

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