Masquerade gala unmasks addiction

Masquerade gala unmasks addiction

Kennesaw State University’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery hosted its inaugural gala at the Fox Theatre on Oct. 22 to raise support and awareness for students overcoming addictions.

Hundreds of KSU affiliates and dignitaries donned masks to reflect the event’s theme, “Take off the Mask of Addiction.” The theme was created to remove the stigma from addiction. The black-tie event featured a three-course meal, dancing and both live and silent auctions. Proceeds from the event will help fund the center’s efforts to:

  • provide treatment and support services to students recovering from addictions
  • educate the KSU community on the prevention of addictions
  • spread awareness of the availability of campus and community resources
  • conduct research to facilitate the prevention and treatment of addictions

According to Teresa Johnston, the director of the Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery, nearly 25 percent of KSU students struggle with some type of substance use.

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Guests dance and enjoy live music from BandX as the "Take Off the Mask of Addiction" Masquerade Ball comes to an end. Photo credit: Erin Teixeira

Jeff Schultz, a sports columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, hosted the event along with his wife Jeanne, a middle school teacher.. The two have been advocates for increasing awareness and prevention of substance abuse since their son, Josh, went into treatment in 2011.

“Helping others reach their goal after feeling the despair of addiction is our way of paying it forward for all the help we’ve gotten along the way,” Jeanne Schultz said. “We would not be standing here today without the support of programs like this and the individuals who manage them.”

Josh Schultz graduated from KSU in 2014 with help from the university’s Collegiate Recovery Community, a peer-driven community of students who are seeking recovery and participating in recovery support services, self-help and mutual aid groups.

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Guests at the "Take Off the Mask of Addiction" Masquerade Ball enjoy desert and coffee before the live auction begins. Photo credit: Erin Teixeira

KSU is one of only three universities in Georgia that offers a Collegiate Recovery Community, with 66 students currently a part of the community and another 150 graduates now leading healthy, productive lives.

Keynote speaker Stacy Weiss, the founder and chairwoman of Bert’s Big Adventure and a recovering addict herself, emphasized the importance of having such a community.

“To be able to have something available to you right on your campus, where you can walk in and you have a family and they’re going to help you so that you can move forward with your life,” she said, “it should be on every college campus, and I hope that someday that can be a possibility.”

Johnston reported that 92 percent of students who enter the Collegiate Recovery Community successfully graduate.

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Kennesaw State University's newly appointed president, Sam Olens, attends the "Take off the Mask of Addiction" Masquerade Ball in support of KSU’s Center for Young Adult Addiction and Recovery. Photo credit: Erin Teixeira

“I’m hoping people take away from this that people do recover, and that there is hope,” she said.

Although the center does receive partial funding from the university, it relies on $200,000 in funds raised to provide its comprehensive services to students in recovery. These services include counseling, 12-step recovery programs, academic support, off-campus recovery housing, workshops, seminars and scholarships.

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