MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — According to the North Dakota stigma study, 74% of people in our state believe addiction is a health condition, not a choice. That’s the message Gov. Doug Burgum and the First Lady are spreading through their movement, Recovery Reinvented.

First lady, Kathryn Burgum, along with the Governor hosted the seventh annual conference in Minot on Thursday. The group’s mission is to end the shame and stigma of addiction throughout the state.

Since 2017, the first lady has shared her recovery story through Recovery Reinvented and has created resources for people, based on her personal experiences.

“I’d get sober for six months, then I’d start drinking again. I’d get sober for a year and start drinking. And this kept happening over a period of about eight years. And at the end of that, I was suicidal every time I drank,” explained First Lady Kathryn Burgum. “In my role as first lady, I’ve had the privilege to use this platform to forward advocacy. And I have worked with so many people to provide hope, healing, and help across our nation.”

Governor Burgum says the state’s behavioral health team has worked closely with local lawmakers to create recovery and additional resources. For example, $12.5 million from the state’s budget is going towards a new state hospital and more inpatient behavioral health services throughout the area.

The Governor believes ending the stigma behind people in recovery can prevent relapses, reduce recidivism rates, and benefit our state as a whole.

He said, “We all talk about how we want to have a nation free of discrimination, but we have been coded into law that if somebody ends up with a felony related to a drug charge, they are basically in a spot where they could be pushed down for their whole life. We are trying to change that in North Dakota, we are trying to work through that.”

Since 2016, our state has also added more than 900 peer support recovery specialists, and several housing and resource groups for those in recovery.