Maryann Zeliznak was one of many local residents who attended Tuesday’s Celebrate Recovery event at The Aiken Center for alcohol and drug services.

“I’m really impressed with this artwork because it sends a wonderful message,” Zeliznak said. “People with addiction problems deserve this opportunity because we’re all human beings and need these chances.”

Cosponsored by the 2nd Judicial Circuit Alcohol Enforcement Team and the Substance Abuse Free Environment Team, the event was in honor of National Recovery Month. It included an addiction art exhibit that featured clients’ original artwork, an educational segment and a panel discussion titled TUF Talk.

Clients were able to create visuals for their struggles with addiction and put their art on display for those who attended the exhibit.

“Our clients were able to tell us what addiction looks like and feels like,” said Prevention Director Alphia Dunbar. “Their art is really deep, and it reflects what they are truly going through. So that therapy is instrumental in their recovery.”

In addition to the exhibit, adolescents and adults were given opportunities to learn and speak about their problems. Students focused on the consequences of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and synthetic marijuana use.

Adults learned about the consequences of drug use, the packaging of alcohol and tobacco products, and the signs, symptoms and behaviors of someone who is impaired or using alcohol or other drugs.

“Educating people on prevention is important so the cycle of continuation doesn’t continue from generation to generation,” said panel member Vernicki Burgess. “It’s really important for our adolescents to gather more information on addiction and how to prevent it from destroying their goals.”

“This event supports the idea that we don’t give just due to the people who struggle and try to overcome addiction,” added Jennifer Burke, director of treatment services. “It’s tough work and includes an infinite number of decisions everyday. So we should celebrate that and encourage them to keep going.”

Derrek Asberry is a reporter with the Aiken Standard and joined the paper in June.

He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.