The month of March is recognized as Women’s History Month when we acknowledge women and girls and their impact on our society. In addition to fighting for the right to vote, demanding equal pay, gender equality, and joining male-dominated careers, women have also made an unbelievable difference in the field of addiction recovery. Today, we would like to discuss a few notable women from America’s history in mental health and addiction treatment.
Monique is the Executive Director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition.National Harm Reduction Coalition builds evidence-based strategies wi and for people who suffer from substance abuse.Monique has devoted her career to building the harm reduction movement, ending the overdose epidemic, increasing syringe access, and infusing harm reduction with racial justice. She has been an active member of the harm reduction community for more than 20 years. She has committed to speaking on behalf of the people impacted by the war on drugs and working alongside racial and social justice groups to bring harm reduction to the forefront of their platforms. Included in her many accomplishments, Monique has served as Commissioner with the Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Commission, Co-Chair of the Boston Ryan White Planning Council’s public policy committee, Co-Chair of the MA Statewide Prevention Planning Group’s Advocacy & Activism Committee, and was the Director of Program Planning and Development with AIDS Action Committee in Boston. She is truly a notable woman in the field of addiction services.
Betty was the First Lady of the United States of America from 1974 through 1977. She was the wife of President Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Individuals in recovery have most certainly heard about Betty Ford. As First Lady, she supported many notable political causes such as the Equal Rights Amendment and the women’s rights movement. After her time as First Lady, her family staged an intervention. Betty had been prescribed opioids to treat a pinched nerve in the early 1960s. Over time she started taking larger amounts and added alcohol to the mix. Her family became concerned and encouraged her to enter a treatment program. After her time in the addiction treatment center, Betty became an activist for a cause that affected her personally: the disease of addiction. Her public disclosure of a previously secret subject encouraged thousands of women to seek medical treatment options. She also realized that there was no recovery facility specifically designed to treat women with unique drug and alcohol addiction problems. In 1982, after her complete recovery, she helped establish the Betty Ford Center, a rehab center dedicated to helping all individuals, but especially women, with substance use disorders. Through her work at the treatment center, Betty began to understand the connection between drug addiction and those who have HIV/AIDS. She again used her influence to voice her support for gay and lesbian rights in the workplace and spoke out supporting same-sex marriage.
Elizabeth was the co-anchor of “World News Tonight” and co-host of “Good Morning America” for over twenty years. She seemed to be all smiles on camera, but off-camera was a different reality. The Emmy Award-winning journalist secretly battled an anxiety-induced alcohol addiction. It wasn’t until 2012 that a family vacation made her realize she needed to speak up and get help. Elizabeth entered a treatment center for addiction in Utah but did not stay long enough to complete her recovery and relapse. During the next two years, she sought treatment and relapsed multiple times. According to her book, Vargas has been sober since 2014, something she does not take for granted. Elizabeth’s story is an important one, and she showed true courage to realize she had a problem and needed help. Her story also shows us that if you don’t succeed at first, don’t be afraid to try again.
Marty is the Founder of the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism, which became known as the National Council on Alcoholism and is now known as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Marty suffered from recurring depression throughout her adulthood. However, she devoted her life to spreading information about alcoholism and fighting its stigma. Marty traveled all over the country, speaking to support groups and helping to establish chapters of AA and new branches of the National Council on Alcoholism in the United States and overseas. She was a personable public speaker and gave hundreds of lectures. She spoke to and served as a consultant to congressional and state legislative committees. She engaged and recruited the help of the wealthy and the famous, many of whom struggled with alcohol or had an alcoholic in the family. She became known as the first lady of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie is an award-winning actress with more than 20 years sober. In 1989 after routine plastic surgery, she has prescribed Vicodin pain killers. She became addicted and struggled with her secret addiction for ten years. She explained that she was a “controlled drug addict and alcoholic. I never did it when I worked. I never took drugs before 5 p.m. I never took painkillers at 10 in the morning. It was that sort of late afternoon and early evening — I like to refer to it as the warm-bath feeling of an opiate.” Many individuals like Jamie feel they are functional and don’t need help because they are not like other drug addicts or alcoholics. Jamie also comes from a family line of addiction, her father battled drug and alcohol addiction, and her brother Nick died of a heroin overdose. When her friend stayed with her and saw her consume her prescription pills, she had no choice but to disclose her drug misuse addiction. She then chose to enter treatment and break the family members cycle of addiction. Jamie chose to publicly disclose her struggle with addiction and her recovery, which is a considerable risk in her industry, especially as a woman. She continues to be outspoken about addiction and the tragedy it causes. She has spoken about other celebrities’ deaths and other lives lost to the disease of addiction.
Acknowledging Women in Addiction Recovery
Thanks to women like Monique Tula, Marty Mann, Elizabeth Vargas, Betty Ford, and Jamie Lee Curtis, we better understand the disease of addiction, various treatment approaches, improved access to care, and hope for a better future. We hope these uplifting stories help you and encourage you to make a positive change wherever you can.
About Avatar Residential Detox
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