For those who have lost a loved one to addiction, the Center for Students in Recovery is hosting the annual Ofrenda de Muertos this month to celebrate their lives and memories.
The ofrenda also celebrates students who have dealt with addiction in the past and are currently in recovery. Students can bring any small or medium sized object or memento to the center to honor the lives of those affected by addiction.
“We’ve all been personally affected by drug abuse and addiction,” pharmacy professor Richard Morrisett said. “Anyone who claims that drug abuse has not affected them directly is not being honest with themselves or their families.”
Center Program Coordinator John Harris said the ofrenda is for honoring the lives of people who were lost to addiction, not to grieve.
“This ofrenda, it could really be used to honor anyone, but the intent is to honor people that have been lost to addiction, but also to honor one’s past life before recovery,” Harris said. “It’s a way to bring the community together in a way that’s atypical.”
When students find their way to recovery, it can be challenging for them to re-enter a college environment, which is why the center offers events like the ofrenda, said Sierra Castedo, director of the center.
“We’re just here to encourage and support people in their recovery journeys and make sure they are connected to a community of fellow students in recovery,” Castedo said.
The ofrenda is a way the recovery center reaches across all cultures and to connect with all students, Harris said.
“It’s visually exciting, but it’s a new and different way for the recovery community specifically, but really just the wider Austin community to come together around the issue in a way that is positive,” Harris said.
Addiction comes in many forms and types, ranging from abuse and misuse of alcohol or prescription drugs to full blown dependence where individuals experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not available, Morrisett said.
For radio-television-film freshman Brittany Sanchez, addiction is part of her everyday life in the form of her alcoholic uncle.
“He’s still an alcoholic, but he doesn’t want to get help,” Sanchez said. “For my graduation … he hadn’t had a drink or a smoke, so (my family) had to leave early, so they missed me walking on stage because he had to get out of there.”