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Treatment center hosts first alumni reunion

The Oxford Centre, a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction based in northeastern Lafayette County, recently hosted its first alumni reunion.

The Nov. 14 gathering brought together more than 200 alumni, staff, family members and current clients for a full day of events and fellowship.

“This place saved my life,” said Sam Davis, who completed treatment at The Oxford Centre in 2012. He has since gone on to become a counselor and lead an enrichment program for at-risk youth in Memphis.

“If you’re sinking on the Titanic and somebody reaches out to pull you up, you’re going to remember that person and that moment for the rest of your life,” he said. “That’s what The Oxford Centre is to me.”

Davis was among alumni and family members who spoke at the event. The sharing of one’s story to encourage others is central in the AA/NA 12-step program, which The Oxford Centre follows and instructs its alumni to cling to as one of the tools in the recovery process.

“Our goal when we opened The Oxford Centre was to provide a place where people could step out of the insanity of their life in active addiction and hopefully choose recovery,” CEO Billy Young said. “For our current patients to meet our alumni and hear their stories, it lends weight to what we are telling them: When you make a commitment to living abstinently and living by spiritual principles, things will get better.”

In addition to alumni stories, the event also included recovery-themed music from Nashville-based singer-songwriter John McAndrew and comedy from entertainer Mark Lundholm.

Alumni also had the chance to take take part in activities that had been part of their treatment program on The Oxford Centre’s residential campus. Groups participated in horseback riding, ropes-course sessions, fishing and art. Many also explored amenities on the campus that had been added in the past year, such as the equestrian center and labyrinth walk.

At the close of the event, current clients gathered around a bonfire to toast marshmallows and symbolically toss any resentments or bitterness into the flickering flames.

Visiting The Oxford Centre for the first time, McAndrew said he was struck by the peace and beauty that its environment offers those seeking recovery.

“Places like this are a treasure for this part of the country,” he said. “Just think of the families of all the people who’ve been through this facility. This place creates a ripple that goes out in circles, further and further.”

On the evening before the reunion, The Oxford Centre co-sponsored the appearance of recovery speaker Brian Cuban on the University of Mississippi campus. He was featured as for fourth annual Collegiate Recovery Community Fall Speaker Event at UM.

The Oxford Centre’s residential campus is located on 110 acres between Oxford and New Albany. For outpatient services and aftercare, the center also maintains offices in Oxford, Tupelo and Olive Branch.

For photos and details from the reunion, or for resources on addiction and recovery, visit theoxfordcentre.org.