September is Addiction and Recovery Month

CUSHING, Okla. — Starting over and unpacking from a move is never easy, especially for a single father raising a young son who works to stay sober every day.

“I was a blackout drinker starting about sophomore year,” Geoff says.

During a recent interview with 2 News Oklahoma anchor Karen Larsen, Geoff admitted that alcohol was the starting point for his addiction.

During his college years, as a member of a fraternity, he would notice others drinking heavily but was convinced he did not have a problem. Later when he moved to California a lucrative job opened the door to a new level of addiction.

“I got into the party scene. I started making good money,” Geoff says.

“A friend of mine introduced me to cocaine and everything just blew up from there.”

Geoff is certainly not alone in his battle with addiction. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says 250,000-300,000 Oklahomas are fighting substance abuse disorder each year.

“I am an alcoholic, first and foremost,” Geoff says.

“But I’ve gotten into pain pills before because of surgeries. I have gotten into Adderall, methamphetamine, bath salts.”

Alarmed and disappointed by his behaviour, Geoff’s family sent him to Valley Hope Addiction Treatment Recovery Center, which has been in Cushing since 1974.

“Most of the folks who come to us are average people, living their lives,” says Dana Kerney, Senior Vice President of Valley Hope Addiction Treatment Recovery.

“They have families, they have jobs, they’re just going through a difficult period and we are there to support them.”

According to Kerney, Valley Hope offers a continuum of care starting with residential treatment and medical stabilization to help patients with detox.

“Which is where we are able to bring people in any stage of their use and treat them with the medical tools necessary to keep them safe,” she says.

“We have medications that are available to make their withdrawal symptoms as comfortable as possible.”

With registered nurses and nursing technicians on staff to provide care and support 24/7, Kerney says patients are their focus.

“We have therapists, counselors, our clinical team – master level therapists – who work with patients one-on-one, who also work in a group therapy setting.”

During intense therapy provided through in-patient and intensive outpatient programs, Valley Hope staff help guide the patient toward healthier choices and accountability.

Case managers even help provide assistance with finding new housing, if needed. There are also 12-step programs the patient can access first onsite, then offsite when they take the next step in their recovery — returning home and staying sober.

“We know that a life of recovery has an impact on the individual, their family, their workplace and their community as a whole, and so we’re really trying to fight the stigma of substance use disorder and also let people know that does addiction not have to be a death sentence and that hope is available for them,” Kerney says.

Drug and alcohol treatment experts say there are warning signs that spouses, partners and parents should watch for when they suspect alcohol or drug abuse:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Isolating behavior
  • Job or family issues

“The minute you have a question or any kind of concern, whatever that is don’t wait for the next sign,” says Jeff Dismukes, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Reach out and talk to a professional and let them help guide you through this,” Dismukes says.

Geoff admits that staying clean and sober has not been easy. He has relapsed several times and his relationship with his parents and family is strained. However, with hard work and reliance on treatment programs, he has stayed on the right path for more than five years now.

“I always say the same thing, pick up your phone and call somebody,” Geoff says.

“Talk to somebody. Don’t keep it a secret.”

Geoff now helps other single fathers with their recovery by organizing support group meetings in Tulsa.

Find out more about Valley Hope Addiction Treatment Recovery Center in Cushing here.

Learn more about Valley Hope’s experts and leadership here.

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