Addiction recovery: help easy to find, but hard work

Published 12:02 am Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recovery – it’s a process that can open up infinite possibilities for those suffering from addiction.

Locally, the options abound. From an intensive residential treatment program to weekly meetings of faith-based and 12-step support groups, help is available – all one has to do ask.

“And really, that is the first step – realizing you have a problem and seeking out professional help,” said Donna Beasley, a 20-year veteran substance abuse director with the South Central Alabama Mental Health Board, whose facility is located at the Montezuma Complex on Academy Drive in Andalusia and services Covington, Coffee, Crenshaw and Butler counties.

The numbers show Covington County has a problem with addiction. County jail reports are dotted daily arrests for driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance and a host of other crimes likely motivated by druge use.

At the SCAMHB, entrance into the 18-bed, intensive rehabilitation program is court-mandated; it is not open to the general public, Beasley said. However, the facility also hosts an outpatient program where admittance is open to anyone who has a need.

“Our residential treatment residents are here 24-7,” Beasley said. “We teach a holistic approach to recovery with a 12-step base. We also teach recovery life skills, anger management, deal with grief issues and any other issues they may have that might cause them to relapse.”

The outpatient program is broken down into two 15-person groups in both Covington and Crenshaw counties – a morning group and an evening group. Both meet weekly for a minimum of 38 sessions. Before admittance into the program, a substance abuse assessment is conducted to determine a plan of treatment. Then, applicants are put on a waiting list, and the time for a spot varies.

“But, until a spot opens, we do recommend they attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) while they wait for placement,” Beasley said. “It all sounds simple, but it’s not. First the person has to be willing. Some decide they need help on their own; others we get through referrals.

“Treatment differs from person to person,” she said. “We do feel addiction is a disease that affects the person mentally, physically and spiritually, and it doesn’t matter if the addiction is because of alcohol, prescription pills or illicit drugs. If you have a problem and need help, we’re here.”

To schedule a needs assessment, call 334-428-5040 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

There is a $10 fee per counseling session.

Local chapters of AA and NA, as well as other faith-based addiction recovery groups, meet daily throughout each week.

In fact, a local AA chapter meets today at noon at First Presbyterian Church, as well as tonight at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The local NA chapter meets tonight at 7 behind the Andalusia Barber Shop on South Three Notch.

Addiction is not a solo experience. It is estimated that each alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people, according to the AA Web site.

Al-Anon is the organization dedicated to providing help and support to anyone who has been affected by an addiction.

The group, as well as AA and NA, function on complete anonymity as to allow confidentiality in its members and to create a safe environment to get help. Al-Anon meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the Dixon Room at the Andalusia Public Library. For more information on this group, call 334-222-0123.

“It’s easy to become addicted,” Beasley said. “Drugs and alcohol are easily accessible, but for those who are dealing with these addictions and their families, they need to remember that help is just as easily accessible. They just have to reach out and get it.”

For a more comprehensive list of self-help groups available locally, see Page 3.