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Stigma surrounding addiction and recovery is lifting

September is Addiction and Recovery Month
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Posted at 12:28 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 19:55:21-04

CUSHING, Okla. — September is Addiction and Recovery Month, and throughout the month, 2 Cares for the Community is focusing on why the stigma surrounding substance abuse is lifting as well as the recovery help that's available in Oklahoma.

2 News Oklahoma anchor Karen Larsen recently spoke with a woman who tried to hide her addiction. This report is sponsored by Valley Hope of Cushing - Addiction Treatment and Recovery.

MORE >>> Oklahoma man thankful for treatment at Valley Hope rehabilitation center

Like so many in Oklahoma, Kay's addiction started with alcohol, then her doctor prescribed benzodiazepine pills for anxiety.

Kay said she started mixing the two.

"Which is a terrible concoction," she says.

"I later learned it's a wonder that I lived as long as I did doing those things."

She lost her job.

"My daughter kept asking me if I had a drinking problem," Kay says.

"And I just kept saying no. I thought I was hiding it, but it really wasn't."

Then Kay wrecked her car.

"Jumped a curb and hit a sewer lid cover cover and had two flat tires, my car was really messed up."

Nearby, she says she saw a "Children at Play" sign.

"That kind of hit a chord with me and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I need help, I could have hurt somebody. I could have killed somebody,'" she says.

"And if I would have hurt somebody, especially a kid, I don't think I could live with myself. That was when I was like, I need help."

The stigma surrounding substance abuse can impact those who want to seek help for their addiction, according to Dana Kerney, Senior Vice President of Valley Hope Addiction Treatment and Recovery.

"It has a severe impact," Kerney says.

"It can keep people from seeking help when they need it."

Because addiction and recovery are more openly talked about now, the stigma is lifting and people are seeking help Kerney says.

"There are millions of people living in recovery from substance use disorder every day."

What may be surprising for some to learn is how early addiction may begin, according to Jeff Dismukes, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

"In Oklahoma, substance use begins around the age of 12," Dismukes says.

Kay was 47 when she came to Valley Hope for its intensive in-patient and outpatient programs.

In therapy, she discovered she's not alone.

"It's like 'Wait a minute, you know how I feel? You feel this way too?' And it was just it was so cool because I always thought that I was alone in my thinking," Kay says.

Kay has been so successful in recovery she now works as the alumni coordinator for Valley Hope of South-central Kansas helping others realize fear should not keep them from seeking help with their own journey of recovery.

"I feel super blessed, they gave me the tools that I needed to survive and walk through the storm, and I get to work here now and maybe pay it forward a little bit," she says.

Kerney says Valley Hope, which opened in Cushing in 1974, offers a full continuum of care with a team of physicians, nurses, psychologists, counselors and chaplains to meet the physical, mental, social and spiritual needs of each person.

  • On-site medical detox
  • Medical stabilization
  • Intensive in-and-outpatient programs including more than 40-hours per week of individual counseling, 12-step sessions and group therapy
  • Weekly continuing care programs
  • Discharge planning and return to work assistance
  • Indoor & outdoor recreational activities
  • Family care
  • Alumni events

"We really try to get people to understand that once they come to treatment with us, they are part of the Valley Hope family and that does not change when they walk out of the door," Kerney says.

The number at Valley Hope of Cushing is (800) 544-5101.

Find out more about Valley Hope Addiction Treatment Recovery Center in Cushing here.

Learn more about Valley Hope's experts and leadership here.

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