BY JEFF CLARK
According to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 23 million Americans (one out of 10 people above age 12) suffers from a dependency to alcohol and/or drugs. To expand the statistics further, approximately 7.5 million (10.5 percent) children live in a home directly impacted by addiction. And while statistics can be subjective, addiction is almost in line with diabetes in terms of number of Americans diagnosed with the disease.
Addiction (alcoholism) is a disease, although not a socially accepted one. “The Disease Concept of Alcoholism” was written by E.M. Jellinek more than 50 years ago. But Jellinek’s writings are basically based in theory and aren’t accepted by all scholars of science.
There is, however, no debate that alcohol and drugs have addictive powers for many men and women, and some form of help is going to be needed in order to bring about the behavioral change needed to recover from addiction. Fortunately for our community, this help is readily available.
The Pines/Cady Hill is a hidden gem in the Columbus landscape. It sits unrecognized, for the most part, in a red brick building on Main Street that once housed Columbus Hospital. And while it may go unnoticed on the outside, it’s what is on the inside, like most things in life, that counts.
A recent open house showed Community Counseling Services’ commitment to the community. Forget what preconceived notion you may have about treatment centers or “rehabs,” as they are commonly known. This isn’t an unpainted cinder block building with drab walls where the hopeless walk around in nightgowns waiting for a shot of Thorazine, drooling as they aimlessly wander the halls. No, the PCH is actually very warm and inviting — an environment suited for the spiritual and behavioral changes taking place within its walls.
There are many people who have worked hard and diligently to bring about the necessary changes to help keep the facility modern and successful. One of the driving forces behind the renovations and change is Martha (Allen) Wooten.
Before taking the marketing director position with CCS, Wooten was the director of Main Street for the West Point/Clay County Growth Alliance, which was no easy task, because if there is one name that is synonymous with West Point Main Street, it is Louise Campbell. Campbell paved the way for Main Streets across the state and, regardless of how many directors there have been since she started the West Point Main Street, they will always live in the shadow of her commitment to West Point and the community.
But Wooten has applied the same energy and community spirit at CCS for which she was known when she was with the Growth Alliance. She’s young, creative and she has helped bring the combined vision of Lowndes County CCS Administrator Lina Beall and CCS Executive Director Jackie Edwards.
The progressive vision for the facility is also due to commitment of PCH Director Patricia Thornton and her staff, which includes Aftercare Counselor and local author Dr. Greg Little and therapists Jeff Anthony, Crystal Parker, Angela Robinson and Henry Rogers. Thornton has created a compassionate environment for the beginning stages of recovery. The PCH program is 30 days for primary care and an additional 60 days for secondary treatment. Clients who successfully complete the program are given an additional year of aftercare, which meets once a week on Monday nights.
Wooten and Thornton have also taken great steps to remove the social stigma often associated with addiction through an active media campaign, including the last week’s open house. Thornton will be the first to tell anyone that addiction has nothing to do with values and morals and upbringing but it is, in fact, a debilitating illness that can often be fatal. The list of those who have died from addiction-related circumstances includes Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, former Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon, Hank Williams and Saturday Night Live alums John Belushi and Chris Farley.
But for all of the great work being done at PCH, Thornton, Parker or any of the staff will tell you that residential treatment is only the first phase in living a drug and alcohol-free life. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill or scientific cure for addiction. Treatment is only an introduction into a much larger plan for recovery.
We are fortunate to have the PCH in our community. Thornton, Wooten and the entire CCS staff have gone to great lengths to provide an environment conducive to recovery and rebuilding shattered lives. They deserve our support. You never know when it’s going to be you or someone you love that needs a helping hand.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call (662) 327-7916 for more information.
Jeff Clark is the Managing Editor of The Columbus Packet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org/packet.0