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Inaugural SoberFest a success; organizers say $272K worth of addiction treatment funded

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For recovering addicts, the temptation to drink or use drugs at parties and events can be strong. That's why Mike Manhas founded SoberFest, an alcohol-free music and comedy festival that raised more than $272,000 in funding for addiction treatment in Langford on Saturday.

"I think it's immensely successful," Manhas said, acknowledging the performers, vendors and treatment organizations that donated their time to help with the event.

"We sold it out three-and-a-half weeks before the actual day," he added. "I feel honoured and grateful just to be part of that."

The fundraising total includes both cash and in-kind services from the recovery facilities involved, Manhas said, adding that the event would help five people advance their recovery journeys.

"We're going to send all five people to second-stage housing, between three months to nine months of second-stage treatment, and then we're getting each and every one of them either recovery coaching or counselling to go with that," he said.

Manhas, who will celebrate nine years of sobriety this October, told CTV News before the festival that he hopes to make it an annual event. 

"To be able to help even just one person a year is a miracle, but I think we can do better and I think we can do more," he said at the time.

"In my heart of hearts, I just want to do more. "

Festival-goers CTV News spoke to Saturday were enthusiastic about seeing SoberFest happen again in the future.

The event has the support of Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.'s minister of mental health and addictions.

"It's so encouraging to see a community like this bringing people together, affirming that substance use challenges are a health-care problem, not anything to be ashamed about, and really inspiring each other to move forward in their recovery journey," said Malcolmson, who was in attendance at the Ranger Station in Langford on Saturday.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Brendan Strain 

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