Research and Recovery

Treatment center honors two for work against meth

Two local advocates for treatment of methamphetamine addiction who have worked with the Crystal Meth Working Group – a program of The Center, D.C.’s LGBT community center – were honored Oct. 14 by the national nonprofit Caron Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center for their educational and research work on behalf of individuals suffering from addiction to the drug.

Caron awarded Jimmy Garza with its Educational Excellence Award for overcoming his own addiction to methamphetamines and serving as a recovery advocate, working with local police, school groups and other organizations to educate them about meth addiction and the process of recovery from substance abuse.

The organization awarded Josh Riley, a former addiction specialist with Whitman-Walker Addiction Services at Whitman-Walker Health Center, with its research award for his work researching meth addiction. He was also honored for his work managing and evaluating a 16-week, 24-session outpatient substance abuse and HIV-prevention program for gay and bisexual men while working for the Friends Research Institute in Los Angeles. Riley recently moved back to the District, where he accepted a position as program director for Whitman-Walker Addiction Services at Whitman-Walker Health.

”I think there’s a perception that meth is less of an issue,” Riley said at the Oct. 14 breakfast event. ”I don’t think it gets as much attention anymore. It’s maybe less ‘sexy,’ where people are just tired of hearing about it.

”But my experience in Los Angeles and from what I’ve seen here is that people are continuing to use meth, and so the need for groups like the Crystal Meth Working Group is still quite large.”

Garza also acknowledged the problem was still prevalent, but said his personal story, going from ”in handcuffs, face down on the floor of my apartment” to a recovered addict with more than 5,000 days of sobriety is possible, and hopes to encourage others to break the habit.

”If you have the desire to get off the drug, you can,” he said. ”You can definitely get your life back after the party scene.”

For more information on The Center’s Crystal Meth Working Group, call 202-682-2245 or visit thedccenter.org.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com