Road to recovery

Denise Everett is the executive director of SageWind, a substance abuse treatment center.

Drug and alcohol addiction is rampant in our state. Approximately 13 percent of Nevada’s population could benefit from substance abuse treatment services. While over 10,000 people were admitted to Nevada’s publicly funded treatment programs in the year 2000, there are still too few treatment centers to assist addicts and alcoholics who want to be free of chemicals.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “Of every dollar states spent [in 1998], 96 cents went to shoveling up the wreckage of substance abuse and addiction and only 4 cents was used to prevent and treat it.”

Although we all probably know someone who has been through treatment and then relapsed, the compliance rate for individuals in treatment and recovery is comparable to other chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Recent studies show that after six months, treatment for alcoholism is successful for 40 to 70 percent of clients, and cocaine treatment is successful for 50 to 60 percent. Other studies have shown that between $7 and $11 is saved in criminal, court and medical costs for every dollar spent on treatment.

September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, which is an initiative of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment in Washington, D.C. What, pray tell, does that have to do with us folks here in Reno?

Well, it has an impact on us, because there are several non-profit agencies sponsoring a free picnic from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29 at Hidden Valley Park. This picnic is to recognize and celebrate all the teens and adults in Northern Nevada who are in recovery from substance abuse. It’s our small way of participating in Recovery Month.

This Recovery Month picnic and the publicity surrounding it will hopefully heighten the awareness of the general public, politicians and policy makers. We hope it will send the message that recovery does work and that there are hundreds of people in Nevada as living proof.

While many people continue to view alcoholism and addiction as a personal choice, there is a vast quantity of scientific research that substantiates the viewpoint that certain individuals have a genetic, biological, psychological and/or environmental predisposition for chemical dependency. However, addiction philosophies aside, it takes a great deal of hard work to overcome a dependence upon alcohol or a drug, despite how one got there. And to make matters even more difficult, there is enormous stigma for recovering individuals to contend with—at home, on the job, at school and in social situations.

I would to like to invite everyone to join Step 2, North Star Treatment and Recovery Center, Sierra Recovery Center, Ridge House, Family Counseling Service, CASAT at UNR, Join Together Northern Nevada and SageWind in celebrating the brave souls who no longer need to depend on drugs or alcohol and are now living life to the fullest. The Recovery Month picnic will include food, entertainment, games for the kids, face painting and great company—all for free! Join us at Hidden Valley Park and help us celebrate Recovery Month.