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SOS addictions recovery founder to speak at free conference

SOS, America’s first grassroots alternative self-help addiction recovery network, will celebrate its 34th anniversary with a free international conference on Saturday at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst.

Speakers will include SOS founder James Christopher, as well as keynote speaker Jay Swarthout, a licensed mental health counselor and director of managed care services at Cazenovia Recovery Systems.

SOS stands for both Secular Organizations for Sobriety and Save Our Selves. It was the first alternative to the 12 Step model for addictions recovery. Buffalo served as its national headquarters from 1987 to 1995, when it moved to Los Angeles.

Christopher, a sober alcoholic since 1978, founded SOS in 1985. He is author of “Sobriety and Unhooked: Staying Sober and Drug-Free.”

Swarthout, an adjunct professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, has worked in several roles with those who have co-occurring mental health and substance-use disorders. He will speak on “5 Things to Know about Substance Use.”

Conference participants will hear several accounts of addiction and recovery and have an opportunity to share their stories.

The seminar is free; food will be provided. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Center for Inquiry, 1310 Sweet Home Road. Registration is requested by Tuesday at

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