By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
Substance use disorder, or addiction in common parlance, is costly to both individuals and society as a whole. That's why there have been building movements to treat addiction as a medical issue. At Wednesday's Barton County Commission meeting, Central Kansas Community Corrections Director Amy Boxberger and a few other community members presented a proclamation that September is National Recovery Month. One of the events to celebrate the month is Recovery Out Loud, Every Voice Matters Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Jack Kilby Square.
"Through the growth and the expansion of RiseUp Central Kansas, as well as our community support systems such as AA, NA, High on Life, Oxford Houses, our community has seen the adaptive work that recovery can bring," Boxberger told commissioners. "This change brings hope for those that are suffering and relief to those who care about them."
Charity Muth, a substance abuse counselor, spoke about addiction and how difficult it is to change maladaptive behaviors.
"Addiction is a brain disease," she said. "It is progressive, it is chronic, and without treatment, it is most certainly fatal. Most people, when you talk about addictions, such as use disorder, they can get behind the fact that it's a brain disease. It's been around since the 1950s, we know it's a brain disease. Most people fall a little bit short when it comes to all the abnormal behaviors that one participates in while afflicted with the brain disease."
Muth equated the recovery process to pushing a boulder up a hill. A large boulder up a steep hill. Society at large can choose whether to help the struggling person push the rock up, or make the struggle more difficult.
"We just encourage you to keep an open mind because all humans can do a better job," she said. "All humans can do a better job at the language they use when they approach people that are struggling with substance abuse disorder, and how they approach advocating for people with substance abuse disorder."
Morgan Olliff read to the commission the importance of those programs and National Recovery Month.
"Through Recovery Month initiatives, people become more aware and are better able to recognize the signs of mental health and substance use disorders," she said. "Activities are geared towards encouraging people in need of recovery services to seek help. Managing the effects of these conditions helps individuals achieve healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally."
Barton County Health Department Resource Coordinator Amy Ferguson was named the county's Employee of the Quarter in June. She reminded listeners that addiction can happen to anyone and can be overcome.
"I, also, was somebody that struggled for years with recovery," she said. "I've been in and out of 11 different treatment centers. I am in no way different than anyone else you read about in the paper today, that has been to jail and you keep seeing their names come up. I was one of those people. It took a collaboration of people, it took the whole community to help me become well."
Friday's Recovery Out Loud event is for anyone who wants to share their stories about substance use disorder, or for anyone recovering from mental health issues or trauma.