Keenyn Wald, director of Alcohol and Drug Services within Community Counseling Services, talks with Debra Hicks, former president of the Starkville Rotary Club, after the club's regular meeting Monday at the Starkville Country Club. Wald presented before the group about the operations and goals of Recovery House, a treatment program for women battling addiction, out of the New Hope area. Photo by: Victoria Cheyne/Dispatch Staff
June 18, 2019 10:04:03 AM
Women seeking treatment for drug and alcohol addiction through Recovery House in Lowndes County now have immediate access to additional services since Community Counseling Services acquired the program in January.
The residential rehabilitation center in New Hope has provided treatments for more than 1,500 women since its founding in 1985. Now, said Keenyn Wald, director for Alcohol and Drug Services at CCS, its resources have been pooled with treatment CCS provides.
"We were able to take what we already do and what they already do and combine our services," Wald told The Dispatch Monday.
Wald spoke to Starkville Rotary Club about the nonprofit's mission at the club's weekly meeting Monday. Every week, he said, women can participate in group therapy focused on relapse prevention and stress management, as well as individual therapy sessions.
Typically, patients receive treatment for 30 to 90 days, Wald said.
"The real magic, the magic of the number, is the longer someone is able to healthily stay engaged in treatment, the better the outcomes," Wald said.
When CCS took over Recovery House's rehabilitation program, those programs stayed, and the nonprofit received additional programs and resources from CCS. For example, Wald told The Dispatch after the meeting, women undergoing treatment at Recovery House in the New Hope area can now receive immediate HIV testing and expanded psychiatric services.
More beds are also available for female patients seeking active treatment and transitional housing between Recovery House's 19-bed facility and CCS's treatment program for women at Cady Hill, in downtown Columbus, where 16 beds are available.
Danielle Styron, who has served as the program coordinator of Recovery House for 19 years, said the only major change to Recovery House is Wald as the new director.
"(The program) still operates the same way it did," Styron said.
Stephanie Johnson, Recovery House's longtime executive director, left her post in November to join the team of S.A.F.E. Inc. in Tupelo in the same role. During the last few years, Recovery House had also begun to receive less grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which amounted to $250,000 less in funds.
Styron said between Johnson's departure and budgetary factors, the transition to CCS "just made sense."
During the Rotary meeting, Wald also fielded a wide range of questions, ranging from ways community members can be educated about addition and opioid use to whether marijuana is a "gateway drug."
Wald said he's working on planning an opioid education weekend that will be open to the public.
During the weekend Wald said his staff will have training, but the public can join in and learn about treatments that are most successful for opioid use.
The group has held other social programs, with games and auctions, to educate and inform the public. Part of the point of the planned weekend is to humanize those struggling with addiction, Wald said.
"Addiction dehumanizes people," Wald said. 'We see the person who got into the DUI ... They're pulled out of the car and they're put into the station, and you no longer tend to see the human there. You see somebody with a problem."
In addressing the question about marijuana being a gateway drug, Wald added new research isn't showing that -- use of cigarettes and alcohol more often lead users into lives battling addiction. Other factors, such as underlying trauma and unregulated emotions, are linked to serious addiction more than marijuana, Wald said.
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