Morgan Knutson, Gary Piper and Maria Knutson listen to Adam Avila try to encourage the others to take the ice at Treadwell Arena, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Morgan Knutson, Gary Piper and Maria Knutson listen to Adam Avila try to encourage the others to take the ice at Treadwell Arena, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Recovery on Ice: Fun skate celebrates sobriety

Those battling addiction say camraderie and activity help stay sober

Adam Avila wore a full hockey uniform while he skated in Treadwell Ice Arena, but he wasn’t there for a game.

Avila does play league hockey, but he was skating as one of the attendees of the Great Bear Recovery Collective’s Second Annual Disco on Ice: Recovery Ice Skating Party.

“This is my second skating special,” Avila said. “I’ve never met a group of people who were so willing to help each other. There’s one thing we all share in common. It melts all the differences away.”

Great Bear Recovery Collective is a network of people in recovery in Juneau and is partnered with Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. Health & Wellness, Juneau Reentry Coalition, Juneau Opioid Work Group and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. The collective is about two years old, said Carrie Amott, peer support coordinator for JAMHI and board member for Great Bear Recovery Collective.

[Master Tlingit carver makes totem for aware as part of recovery journey]

Amott said the second-year skating party attracted a much larger crowd of people than last year’s and many of those in attendance were not people she recognized as being part of the recovery network.

“It’s actually half and half,” Amott said. “A lot of these faces I have seen before. A lot of them, I haven’t.”

Jason Burke and 3-year-old Vinny Burke were there to enjoy an afternoon of skating, disco lights and maybe a cup of complimentary hot chocolate.

“This is our third time skating,” Jason Burke said. “He’s just learning.”

Embracing the program

Avila, who is from Sitka, was one of several people in recovery at the Saturday afternoon event who found their way to the program through Juneau Therapeutic Court, an 18-month program that serves as an alternative to jail time for people with drug or alcohol addictions.

“You’ve got to embrace the program,” said Gary Piper, who is part of the collective thanks to JTC.

[JTC battles addiction]

Morgan Knutson from Haines, another JTC participant, seconded that. They said some members had even made T-shirts bearing that message.

While Knutson had skates on, he didn’t spend a lot of time on the ice. He hadn’t ice skated in a long time and said his tentative time on the slick surface didn’t go well.

Instead, he was enjoying the camaraderie that Avila described.

“It’s a good sober event,” Knutson said. “I get to rub shoulders with my peers and see if I can still ice skate.”

Josh Quintal, a JTC graduate and Bear Recovery Collective board member, had no such problems and was zipping around the ice with his children.

Quintal is three years into recovery from addiction to methamphetamine and has been a Juneau resident for the past 10 years. He said the networking aspect of events like the ice skating party is important.

“It helps to know you’re not alone,” Quintal said. “You can get around some people in recovery with some serious clean time.”

Not just skating

Great Bear Recovery Collective typically plans one special event per month, Amott said, and there is a Recovery Fest every September.

[Local orgainizations celebrate recovery]

Past events have including kayaking and ziplining, which those at the skating party remembered fondly.

The collective also offers support to people in recovery who would like a gym membership, try their hand at art classes or other endeavors, Amott said, and encouraged anyone in recovery to contact her at CarrieA@JAMHI.org or by calling 463-3303 and asking for her.

Great Bear Recovery Collective can be contacted by email at inco@greatbearrecovery.com and by phone at 463-6841.

“It’s just helping them build a new routine or lifestyle so they have something to do,” Amott said.

Avila said that’s what hockey turned into for him.

“That’s occupied a huge part of time for me,” Avila said. “Sobriety’s not boring.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Jason Burke helps Vinny Burke skate at Treadwell Arena Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Jason Burke helps Vinny Burke skate at Treadwell Arena Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Adam Avila said league hockey has been a helpful part of his recovery from addiction during an ice skating event organized by Great Bear Recovery Collective. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Adam Avila said league hockey has been a helpful part of his recovery from addiction during an ice skating event organized by Great Bear Recovery Collective. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

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