Presentations will take place at Shiprock Chapter House

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SHIPROCK — Since last year, Elliott Charley has been taking steps to avoid using methamphetamine and alcohol, which he has used on and off since late 1999.

"It's been a hard road. You can really lose your self-identity. You can really lose your direction in life," Charley said, adding he was drawn to the adrenaline the substances provide his body, which he described as "false energy."

The 35-year-old repeatedly tried to overcome his addiction, including a 2001 stay at the Christian-based men's residential treatment program once operated by Victory Life Church in Shiprock.

Now, he is turning to the church once again to stay sober. And this time, he is giving back by helping Robert Tso, the church's pastor, with an event on Monday that focuses on methamphetamine abuse and its impact on communities.

Charley said he also got back into recovery because he is the single father of three children, all younger than 5. He became a single parent after his wife died in a single-vehicle rollover crash in December.

The couple met in 2010, and they used alcohol and methamphetamine during their relationship, he said.

"In our relationship, we had our good years. We had our bad years. In the bad years, that's what we were dealing with the struggle with meth and alcohol. …That's how I know what meth and alcohol can do to a family," he said.

This time, Charley is using his faith to abstain from drugs in addition to undergoing bereavement counseling.

Tso said he decided to organize the event after seeing an increase in methamphetamine use in Shiprock and to provide information to community members about awareness, dependence and treatment.

He worked with Georgette Allen, spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department, to reach out to representatives of various substance abuse treatment programs in Farmington to participate in the workshop.

Another reason for the event is to call attention to the need to develop similar services on the Navajo Nation.

"By doing this workshop, we want to impact the community," Tso said.

"We want to lift that veil," Charley said.

According to the agenda, there will be two presentations in the morning about methamphetamine awareness by personnel from the Farmington and Navajo Nation police departments. The afternoon sessions will focus on domestic violence awareness and sexual assault awareness.

Tso said the event also provides the opportunity for residents of Shiprock and Farmington to connect and start a dialogue about addressing the issue, whichi affects both communities.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

If you go

What: Methamphetamine and domestic violence awareness event

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday

Where: The Shiprock Chapter House in Shiprock

Cost: Free

More info: Robert Tso, 505-608-0829

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