January 15th, 2018

6:00pm - 9:00pm
Veterans Memorial Auditorium 
One Avenue of the Arts, Providence RI



Owning Our Story: About the Opioid Epidemic 

This free event is a collaboration between COAAST and the Rhode Island Department of Health. The night will be comprised of local resource tables, an interactive community art project, engaging speakers, and performances from the acclaimed play "Four Legs to Stand On." The mission of Owning Our Story is to educate Rhode Island residents about addiction as a chronic disease, create healing around loss from overdose, rally around recovery, and reflect on stigma, pain, shame, and what divides us. This is going to be a truly special night of inclusion, healing, community action, and education you don't want to miss. 

This event is funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention for States Drug Overdose Prevention grant



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Paul Kandarian - War and Addiction: The Battle on Two Fronts
Paul is an Army Combat Veteran who served in Afghanistan and a former member of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. He has been sober and in recovery from an opioid use disorder for three years. He's currently pursuing his bachelor's degree at UMass Boston in Psychology and hopes to one day help people in recovery like himself. Paul is an avid reader, woodworker, hiker, and enjoys writing stand-up comedy. 


Alyssa Sullivan - Transcending the Story: The Healing Path of Connection
Alyssa is a Rhode Island-based teacher, writer, business owner and speaker.  She was inspired to begin her life-long journey of self-inquiry after her dream of becoming a Broadway dancer was stymied by debilitating self-doubt.  For the past 35 years, she has studied the mind, body and spirit interconnection and it’s impact on our experience in daily living. Alyssa has been mentored by a number of extraordinary teachers, psychologists and specialists in the fields of meditation, mindfulness, communication, and spirituality. Alyssa is the proud owner of Synergy Power Yoga in Barrington, RI, now celebrating  13 years of service, where she teaches yoga daily.  At 54 she is grateful to report, in the eloquent words of Rumi, "I've gotten rid of that ignorant fist that was pinching and twisting my secret self. The universe and the light of the stars come through me." Look for Alyssa's new book and podcasts under the title, The Picket Fence Project in 2018.

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Dr. Josiah Rich, MD, MPH - Opioid Use Disorder; Understanding the Stigma and the Disease
Dr. Rich is Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is a practicing Infectious Disease Specialist at The Miriam Hospital Immunology Center. He is a clinician at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections caring for prisoners with HIV infection and working in the correctional setting doing research. He has published close to 190 peer-reviewed publications, predominantly in the overlap between infectious diseases, addictions and incarceration. Dr. Rich has advocated for public health policy changes to improve the health of people with addiction, including improving legal access to sterile syringes and increasing drug treatment for the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations. He has been appointed by RI Governor, Gina Raimondo, to the Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force Expert Team, selected to advise the task force and formulate a strategic plan to address addiction and stop overdose in Rhode Island.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
— Brené Brown

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