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Veteran Substance Abuse
Veteran Substance Abuse | A New War on Home Soil | Arrow Passage
A Veteran living with Substance Abuse
Misleading Look of Success
At the height of his career and after 22 years of service, Teddy Lanier was at an optimal point in his professional life. Lanier had a long career in the Army Special Forces. Those with an outside perspective would see a decorated soldier and role model for young men and women looking for a career in military service.1
The War Within
Perspective is only reality to those at a distant vantage point. Lanier was experiencing a different war, one within himself. Many of his friends and colleagues were unaware of the pain and struggle that accompanied his personal life. It wasn’t until he experienced difficulty performing a simple task while working in his civilian career that he made a choice for change. Lanier sat down with those he worked for and admitted he is a veteran living with substance abuse.1
Over 1 Million Veterans Need HelpLanier’s story isn’t much different than the 1.1 million veterans struggling with substance abuse disorders. In Lanier’s case, he was struggling with addiction to pain pills and alcohol. The addiction to pain pills started with a prescription following a simple dental surgery. This type of prescribing process is similar for military personnel and often begins with an opioid medication following an injury during deployments.
Tucked away in a quiet corner on south St. Paris Street in Bellefontaine is a place of help and hope for individuals in the community, a welcoming space that bustles with educational and interactive activities each day and also is brimming with encouraging member stories of recovery from mental health difficulties and substance abuse disorder.
The Recovery Zone of Logan County provides educational and supportive programming and also one-on-one peer assistance to help fill the gaps of the traditional recovery services, Director Kathy Zeller said this week. The support comes in many forms to help people overcome the hurdles standing in their way of changing their lives and meeting their goals.
“Like the lighthouse that is part of our logo, we’re here to help light the way,” said Trevor Eakins, one of the new peer recovery supporters for the organization.
“Recovery is possible. We know that because we have been there and have lived it,” the director said, noting that she and each of the staff members have personal recovery stories to share.
The Recovery Zone is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a meal each day and also offering a variety of activities, such as mindfulness and meditation sessions, expressive sharing, substance use group and evidence-based sessions on understanding mental health and building a mental health toolkit. Appointments are not needed, and individuals can drop by anytime during those hours.
After hours and weekend classes also are offered at the 440 S. St. Paris St. facility, including 12-step programs. All programming is free and transportation is available as well.
The center’s new peer support warm line also is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling (937) 210-9003. The phone number connects to several individuals on staff to offer a friendly voice and local support.
City residents Eakins and Cody Watt are new Recovery Zone peer recovery supporters that have been brought on board with the help of new grant funding. They each have lived experience with mental health and/or addiction recovery and have completed coursework in the peer support field as well.
They now can come alongside individuals who are “seeking recovery and help to get back on their feet,” Zeller related.
The peer supporters can assist with some of the life achievements and milestones that can fall by the wayside during a mental health or substance abuse crisis. Some of this practical help includes assistance with job or housing applications or driver’s license forms to providing transportation to mental health appointments.
“We are connected to many agencies and serve on a number of coalitions here in the community, so if it’s something we don’t have available here, we can still help make those connections for them,” the director said.
“The clinical part of treatment is so important, but we are here to fill in the gaps that people don’t receive in formal therapy, along with the chance to offer friendship and to share a meal as well.”
Eakins shared that he joined started coming to the Recovery Zone because he felt it was a comfortable space to complete work for college. He stayed on as a volunteer, and now has been clean for about a year in his recovery from substance abuse disorder and mental health difficulties. He is eager to assist others along a similar path.
A native of Oregon, he related that he moved to Ohio about seven years ago to put physical space between himself his substance abuse addiction and also some of the legal consequences, but it didn’t work out in his favor at first.
“I couldn’t get away from it until I worked through my issues,” he said. “I’m so glad I came to the Recovery Zone and all of the support that I’ve received here to get to the much better place I’m at today.”
Logan County native Watt, also a recent graduate of the Logan County Adult Recovery Court program, said his drug and marijuana use started at the young age of 12 or 13, which then led to harder drugs and to criminal consequences as well. Over time, he racked up three felonies and said he served a six-month sentence at the West Central Community Correctional Facility in 2019.
He was released that July and dove head-first into his recovery efforts, which he had taken the first steps toward just prior to his incarceration. Watt will mark his two-year recovery anniversary Jan. 6.
“I had tried every drug out there. Eventually, it was like I just woke up and thought, ‘Why don’t I try something different with my life? This is not working for me at all and it’s not worth it anymore,’” he said.
For all of the challenges that they’ve traversed and overcome, the peer recovery supporters who so openly share their personal stories now have a lightness about them that that they use to uplift others.
“You have to work at recovery like it’s your job,” Watt said. “I am so thankful to be where I am today and to now have the chance to give back to my community that gave so much to me.”
The Recovery Zone building also can be reached at (937) 593-9391 and transportation assistance from J.R. Frost, building and transportation coordinator, at (937) 597-2607. The organization, which receives local funding from the Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties and the United Way of Logan County, also has a website at www.recoveryzonelcc.org, along with a Facebook page, “Recover Zone of Logan County.”
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In the final part of this series, Dr. Josephine Ridley, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System; Dir. Lori Criss, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Charleta B. Tavares, PrimaryOne Health; Dr. John P. Ackerman, Nationwide Children's Hospital; Vanessa & Jason Martin and Anthony J. Harrison & Anthony J. Crider discuss options for Ohioans suffering with suicidal tendencies and how to get help.
Click here to watch this short video: The Ohio Channel
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In this part series, Dr. Josephine Ridley, VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System; Dir. Lori Criss, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; Charleta B. Tavares, PrimaryOne Health; and Dr. John P. Ackerman, Nationwide Children's Hospital discuss the effects COVID 19 has had on the population of Ohio.
Click here to watch this short video: The Ohio Channel