Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recovery Is Not For Wimps

I saw the most amazing news story last night and had to share it with you. Fox 9 News told the very moving story of young woman's journey through recovery from alcoholism.

Heather King is a blogger, a mom and a recovering alcoholic who is brave enough to share her journey with others.  

The story was not just about Heather, but about the challenges addicted women face. I was proud that Trish Van Pilsum, the Fox 9 journalist, tapped into the resources of Hazelden's Women's Recovery Center and Hazelden's Butler Center for Research.  I learned so much about women and addiction during my time working for Hazelden. 

One of the most eye-opening experiences I had while at Hazelden was through their Professionals in Residence program.  During my first month on the job, I spent a week learning about addiction and recovery from Hazelden researchers and addiction professionals. It wasn't just lecture; I spent time on the units talking with individuals going though treatment. I was privileged to be included in their small group discussions where often times the true essence of addiction is revealed and break-throughs happen. 

I was struck by the difference between the discussions that happened in the men's groups and the women's groups. It was an Ah Ha! moment for me. 

There were core points talked about in both groups - what happens when I leave Hazelden? How will I handle life when I have to face what I left behind? Their answers were different - men talked about jobs and the financial repercussions of their addiction, while the women were concerned about their relationships with their families and feeling ashamed of themselves.

Before you accuse me of stereotyping, remember that these were small group discussions and the topics were common denominators, not what each person had to deal with individually.  Men in recovery worry about relationships and women in recovery worry about jobs, too. 

Unfortunately, addicted women have more barriers to getting help, some perceived and some real.  If you are a single mom, you wonder who will take care of your children while you're in treatment? Could you lose custody of your children?  What will people think of me? (I've only heard of one center that is set up for women to bring their children with them to treatment.) So often, women put their care giving duties before their own personal health.

When Hazelden opened their doors some 60+ years ago, they only treated men. After all, women weren't alcoholics. (It would be another seven years before Hazelden would open a facility for women.) Thank goodness, we've moved beyond that belief.

Thank goodness we have women like Heather willing to take us along on their journey. 

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IMHO: There is a difference between reporters and journalists. I don't believe the terms are interchangeable - a reporter stands in front of a camera and reads the facts while a journalist tells a story with words and images that engage you and connects with your emotions.  I saw proof of that last night in this story. Fox 9's Trish Van Pilsum is a journalist.  Kudos!

2 comments:

The Marketing Mama said...

Good post Elizabeth. Very happy to see the Hazelden experts participate so fully. Proud of Heather for telling her story. And of course, major props to Trish for executing the story so well.

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