In February, we introduced you to the first rural addiction treatment center in western North Dakota.
Beulah’s Coal Country Community Health Center started a rather revolutionary movement, by offering behavioral health services back in 2009, closely followed by addiction treatment.
KX News got a chance to check-in, see their brand-new facility, and learn about all of the services being offered in rural North Dakota, for the first time.
Melissa Herman was part of a team of just a few people that launched these services 10 years ago.
Herman, the Director of Behavioral Health at Coal Country Community Health shared, “We gotta get that stigma out and start realizing that people struggle with a lot of different things, and they’re not alone. There are people out here who can help and are willing to help.”
Coal Country Community Health Center has a new and improved building as of April, making room for at least seven new employees. But the biggest new addition is the intensive outpatient program.
“Our first group started and it was a pretty big group,” added Herman.
Before the IOP program, the Center used to have one group meeting a week for patients. Now, they offer them three nights a week, three hours at a time as a part of the eight-week program.
“People with drug and alcohol problems sometimes don’t have a license; get a DUI, don’t have a license, or aren’t financially stable enough to make a trip to Bismarck three times a week,” said Licensed Addiction Counselor Tyler Mckay.
They’ve also brought in additional counselors and a traveling psychologist, because, as Mckay explains, more often than not, addiction is a symptom of mental health. And to really overcome addiction, you have to get down to the root cause.
“That’s kind of one of the reasons people with addiction use drugs and alcohol, is to cope with the mental health aspects: the anxiety, depression, some personality disorders and things like that,” added Mckay.
Right now, they’re not able to offer in-patient treatment, which is something Mckay says is important to many recovery stories, including his own.
“To put somebody in a facility for a full 30 days, that’s how we rewire our brains, that’s how we develop new neuro-pathways, so the chances of relapse or triggers and cravings are lessened. Where in Beulah right now, we don’t have an inpatient facility, we don’t have a sober house,” shared Mckay.
But the growth makes him optimistic about the future of rural addiction care.
“I would’ve bet all my chips that I would have never ended up back in this area, because it was really hard for me to grow up here, and I got entangled in the drugs and alcohol. The question I ask myself is, ‘Could I have gotten sober here, like in this area?’ And until recently, I had my doubts. So, that’s my personal objective is bringing resources here, so I can ask myself, ‘Could I have gotten sober here’, and I can say, ‘Yeah I think I could’ve’,” Mckay said.
Mckay and Herman challenge their patients to let go of the stigma of shame and worrying that people know about your addiction, particularly in a town where everyone knows everyone else.
“To have people come in, utilize our services, and walk away knowing, ‘You know what, I can go out there and tell people that I struggled with this because that’s how I’m going to teach other people about it. And that I’m a human and things happen,'” shared Herman.
“Get out there and kind of be the face of recovery, and start developing resources on their own. Because that’s what happened in Bismarck, that’s what happens everywhere, someone has to start and step up,” said Mckay.
They’re encouraging their patients to use their stories as a tool.
Mckay says everyone deserves an equal chance at getting sober. The Department of Human Services has a 24-7 recovery talk line, so there is always someone to talk to in a time of crisis, no matter where you live.
Click here for more information about the talk line.