Beloved long-time driver for music acts willed East Nashville home to Cumberland Heights

cumberland-heights-sets-up-the-timothy-cotton-fund-for-patient-assistance
Timothy Cotton

Cumberland Heights announces the creation of the Timothy Cotton Fund for Patient Assistance that was made possible by sale of Tim Cotton’s home on Setliff Place in East Nashville.

Cotton was a former Cumberland Heights patient and long-time driver for many musical acts, including Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Lonestar, Kathy Mattea and Conway Twitty.

Cotton passed away in January 2016 and willed his Setliff Place home to Cumberland Heights. The home sold in January 2017. In total, the sale of Cotton’s home generated $285,000, all of which was donated to the fund.

“Tim Cotton was a generous soul who loved caring for others,” said Jay Crosson, chief executive officer at Cumberland Heights. “His incredible donation and the Timothy Cotton Fund for Patient Assistance will help many, many people recover life from drug and alcohol addiction. Tim’s memory will live on at Cumberland Heights in perpetuity.”

The fund is part of Cumberland Heights’ endowment and will provide financial assistance to patients who cannot afford treatment or do not have insurance that covers costs. Cotton was himself a patient on a MusiCares scholarship, so his gift back is especially meaningful.

“This home holds a special place in our heart,” said Mallory Gibson, who purchased this home with her husband. “Our family also lives on Setliff Place and we will now be able to raise our children within walking distance of each other. Tim was deeply committed to his family and his community, and we look forward to honoring that legacy in this beautiful home.”

Cotton was renowned for his ability to make friends. He touched so many people in the Nashville recovery community that they organized aftercare meetings in his hospital room so he did not have to miss meetings. After his death, Cotton’s sister Cathy Reisch received numerous calls from former Cumberland Heights’ patients who had met Tim during treatment and were touched enough to call with condolences.

Cotton was the 1991 Honoree for the Mary Catherine Strobel Award as Volunteer of the Year from Nashville CARES and trained HIV/AIDS volunteer.

Bill Branch of Life Style Real Estate Advisors served as broker donated his commission because proceeds were being donated to Cumberland Heights.

Branch describes the experience as follows: “Tim Cotton loved his family, his home, and his neighborhood. Having worked with Cumberland Heights on several other real estate transactions to support their mission, it was immediately apparent to me that this was a very special situation. After meeting Tim’s sister Cathy Reisch for the first time, I wanted to be a part of helping to make Tim’s dreams and wishes for his home come true. We had two goals from the start; 1) to raise as much money for Tim’s endowment to Cumberland Heights as possible through the sale of his home, and 2) do as much as possible to find new stewards for the property that would love the home and the neighborhood as much as Tim did. On both counts, we succeeded beyond our hopes, and there will be many people benefiting from Tim’s beautiful heart and enormous generosity for years to come.”

Cathy Reisch, said, “The Cotton family is grateful to Bill Branch and Life Style Real Estate Advisors. Bill did more than donate his commission – he put his heart into this task, was very supportive to our entire family and dedicated a lot of time to make this sale happen for all the parties involved.”

By: Mary Beth McCauley, Staff Writer at University of Tennessee Daily Beacon Feb 9, 2017 — Updated Feb 13, 2017

People can change: Justin Furstenfeld’s (of Blue October) unique approach to his book tour

Knoxville (Tennessee) had the chance to get up close and personal with Justin Furstenfeld, the lead vocalist of alternative rock group Blue October, at the Square Room in Market Square this past Wednesday.

People can change: Justin Furstenfeld's unique approach to his book tour
People can change: Justin Furstenfeld’s (of Blue October) unique approach to his book tour and his story of recovery

Furstenfeld has been traveling to cities across the country to promote his book, “Crazy Making: The Words and Lyrics of Justin Furstenfeld to the Music of Blue October.” The “Open Book Tour” also gives Furstenfeld the opportunity to share stories regarding his struggle with addiction, depression and relationships along with playing an acoustic set in front of a small, intimate audience.

He kicked off the evening with “The Answer,” the title track of Blue October’s first album, and began to tell the audience about his own personal journey, starting with his teenage years. Furstenfeld led his first band called The Last Wish at only 15 years old, the age that he was officially diagnosed with depression. When the Last Wish split up, Furstenfeld went on to create Blue October.

Although Furstenfeld was raw and honest with the crowd, he told his stories with such charisma and humor that throughout the heartfelt details we were all laughing and smiling. He often reminded the crowd, “This is the open book tour. No holding back.” The auditorium felt like a room full of friends, a safe space to share their darkest secrets.

Furstenfeld played a few other songs from Blue October’s debut album, such as “Black Orchid” and “Breakfast After 10.” In these, the audience learned of his first love, Mamie, and how he forgot her birthday after two years of dating. His belated birthday song to her was “Calling You,” the song that scored Blue October a record deal.

He told the audience about his band’s first 15-passenger tour van — and their second one, and their third. He walked us down the path that began his drug addiction, partying on tour every night in hotel rooms and bars. During this same time, Furstenfeld met his first wife and had his first child, a baby girl named Blue, and that changed everything for him. The audience sat quietly absorbing every detail and feeling every emotion as he told his story.

He bravely shared the details of his divorce, the custody battle for his daughter and his spiral back into addiction. And, through all of these hardships, he continued to make music.

Furstenfeld pieced together all of the major events in his life one by one and sang us the songs that stemmed from those events, making them even more meaningful and emotional for the audience, many of which were already huge fans of Blue October.

Towards the end of the evening, Furstenfeld shared his redemption story. He went through a 75-day program at Cumberland Heights, a rehabilitation center in Nashville, and found his faith there. He has been sober for four years now. The audience cried, clapped and cheered for him, all rising to their feet in applause. Furstenfeld truly was an open book, and told his story bravely without shame, but with hope.

After the show, Furstenfeld took time to meet his fans, shaking hands and signing posters, all with a smile on his face. His merchandise sports the phrase “People Can Change,” the perfect summary of his journey thus far.

CUMBERLAND HEIGHTS TO OPEN
SECOND SOBER-LIVING HOME IN FOUR MONTHS

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Jan. 10, 2017 – Cumberland Heights will open a sober-living home for adult men this month, its second sober-living home opened in the last four months.

By adding sober living to residential, outpatient, and 12-step immersion programs, we now offer the complete support package so our patients can transition properly from treatment back to their lives.
By adding sober living to residential, outpatient, and 12-step immersion programs, we now offer the complete support package so our patients can transition properly from treatment back to their lives.

The Keep It Simple! House opens on January 16, will serve up to eight male clients at a time. Clients will stay a minimum of three months and must have completed a primary treatment program. Keep It Simple! joins Searchlight Sober Living for women opened in late October 2016.

 

Cumberland Heights sober living creates the right environment during the critical initial two-year period of recovery,” said Chief Executive Officer Jay Crosson. “By adding sober living to residential inpatient, outpatient, and 12-step immersion programs called Still Waters, we now offer the complete support package so our patients can transition properly from treatment back to their lives.”

 

Sober living allows residents to maintain contact with outpatient services and aftercare while integrating school, work and community responsibilities.

 

While other recovery residences exist, there has been a gap between the very high end providing many services resembling treatment and the very low end which is affordable but offers no services and often has high turnover,” said Executive Director for Community-Based Services Randal Lea. “Cumberland has secured safe housing at affordable rates in established neighborhoods.”

 

Cumberland Heights’ sober homes operate on a “social model” where residents share responsibility and accountability, which fosters greater independence from treatment or authority figures. The male residence is in Murfreesboro and the female residence is in Gallatin.

 

Partners include the Tennessee Alliance of Recovery Residences and National Alliance of Recovery Residences, both of which promote nationally recognized standards for safety and a quality recovery environment.

 


 

About Cumberland Heights

Cumberland Heights’ mission is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol or drug addiction. As a nonprofit organization, Cumberland Heights is committed to the approximately 2,500 men, women and adolescents it serves every year and the communities where its facilities are located. The organization has followed the teachings of the 12 Steps since its founding in 1966.


2016 Concert for Cumberland Heights Recap

The annual Concert for Cumberland Heights featured Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter John Hiatt and his band at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium to benefit the John Hiatt Fund for Adolescent and Young Adult Treatment at Cumberland Heights.

Patrons and other special donors gathered together for a pre-concert celebration at the Downtown Hilton. This is the 50th Anniversary of Cumberland Heights and the 20th Anniversary of this benefit concert. This concert has raised more than $3M over the last 20 years of its existence to assist patients with treatment for alcoholism and addiction.

2016 Concert for Cumberland Heights

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – August 2, 2016 – On Wednesday, October 5, the Concert for Cumberland Heights will feature Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter John Hiatt and his band at the historic Ryman Auditorium to benefit the John Hiatt Fund for Adolescent and Young Adult Treatment at Cumberland Heights. Celebrity friends joining the John Hiatt Trio on this evening will include Richard Thompson, Nate Bargatze and at least one more performer that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday, August 5, 2016, via Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, the Ryman box office, www.ryman.com and by phone 800.745.3000. Tickets are $49.50, $42.50 and $32.50.

The evening’s performance times are:

  • 8-8:30 pm – TBA
  • 8:33-9:10 pm – Richard Thompson
  • 9:10 – 9:30 pm – Nate Bargatze
  • 9:30-10:30 pm – John Hiatt Trio

The Los Angeles Times calls John Hiatt “… one of rock’s most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years.” Hiatt is a multi-talented rock guitarist, pianist, singer and songwriter who plays a variety of musical styles including Americana, folk rock, blues and country and has a long relationship with Cumberland Heights and supporting recovery from addiction.

Hiatt is also this year’s winner of the NAATP’s (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers) Jasper G. Chen See, M.D. Volunteer Leadership Award that recognizes individuals who have provided exceptional volunteer leadership in the area of addiction treatment through board membership and philanthropy.

“This fundraising concert and Cumberland Heights are both near and dear to my heart,” said Hiatt. “I am honored to have such talented friends join me in raising money to help adolescents and young people recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. This is an important cause. Plus, it’s going to be a great show!”

Proceeds of the event support Cumberland Heights’ adolescent and young adult treatment programs. With a treatment plan based in the 12 Steps, these programs help patients set goals for recovery while helping them process life’s consequences and unmanageability. This concert has raised more than $3M over the last 20 years of its existence to assist patients with treatment.

“We are especially grateful to have John Hiatt as our featured performer during this, our 50th Anniversary year and the 20th concert year,” said Cumberland Heights’ CEO Jay Crosson. “This is one of our largest fundraisers of the year and John Hiatt has been instrumental to its success throughout its history. We are grateful to John as well at the other fantastic entertainers and sponsors who make it all possible.”

About Cumberland Heights

Since 1966, Cumberland Heights has been the proven experts in alcohol and drug addiction treatment. They provide quality care, based on the foundations of the 12 Steps, to individuals and their families suffering from addiction. Cumberland Heights is committed to the approximately 2,500 men, women and adolescents it serves every year and the communities where its facilities are located. Cumberland Heights is a private, nonprofit organization located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee.

About John Hiatt

John Hiatt has been nominated for several Grammy Awards and has been awarded a variety of other distinctions in the music industry. He remains one of the most respected and influential American singer-songwriters.

Hiatt was working as a songwriter for Tree International, a record label in Nashville, when his song “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here” was covered by Three Dog Night.[1] The song became a Top 40 hit, earning Hiatt a recording contract with Epic Records. Since then he has released 21 studio albums, two compilation albums and one live album. His songs have been covered by a variety of artists in multiple genres, including Bob Dylan, The Searchers, Delbert McClinton, Willy DeVille, Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Joe Bonamassa, Willie Nelson, Three Dog Night, Joan Baez, Paula Abdul, Buddy Guy, the Desert Rose Band, Jimmy Buffett, Mandy Moore, Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rosanne Cash, Suzy Bogguss, Jewel, Aaron Neville, Jeff Healey, Keith Urban, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, Paulini and many others. The Dutch singer/songwriter Ilse DeLange recorded the album Dear John with nine of his songs.

About Richard Thompson

Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards for Songwriting on both sides of the Atlantic – from the Americana Music Association in Nashville to Britain’s BBC Awards as well as the prestigious Ivor Novello. In 2011, Thompson received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In the USA Thompson has been nominated at the Americanas for both “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year”. HIs recently released CD, Still was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy which reached #6 in the UK charts (just ahead of Taylor Swift)!

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, REM, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Patty Lovelace, Los Lobos, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Robert Earl Keen and many others. Thompson’s massive body of work includes over 40 albums, many Grammy nominations, as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Hertzog’s Grizzy Man.

About Nate Bargatze

Nate Bargatze got into the entertainment business naturally — his father is a former clown turned world-class magician. He is now a very popular, critically acclaimed comedian.

Bargatze’s one-hour special, Full Time Magic, was number one on Billboard Top Ten Comedy list. He has appeared multiple times on Conan and Fallon while being one of the first comedians to perform on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and performed on Jimmy Fallon’s Clean Cut Comedy Tour. Bargatze has also performed at Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Moontower and has performed for U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait more than five times.

Named in 2015 in Variety as a “Top 10 Comedian to Watch,” Bargatze was mentioned in Rolling Stone Magazine by Marc Maron as a “comic who should be big” and in Esquire by Jim Gaffigan as “one of the top up and coming comics.” His first album, Yelled At By A Clown, made it to number two on Billboard Top Ten Comedy.

# # #

Media Contact:
Amy A. Atkinson
Amy Atkinson Communications
615.305.8118
Amy@AmyACommunications.com

Mayor Megan Barry joined Cumberland Heights executives and other dignitaries for opening event

NASHVILLE, TENN. – Aug. 9, 2016 – Nashville-based alcohol and drug treatment center Cumberland Heights today officially opened its new Music Row Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) with an open house and ribbon cutting that included Mayor Megan Barry, musician John Hiatt and many other community leaders and supporters of Cumberland Heights.

IOPs offer alternatives to inpatient treatment for patients who seek daytime and evening counseling in order to continue with their schools or careers. IOPs offer flexible scheduling, group therapy, 12-Step meetings and specialized family therapy. The Music Row IOP is located at 1619  17th Ave. South.

“Cumberland Heights has a long history of working with members of the music industry, so it’s so great to finally be located here on Music Row,” said Cumberland Heights Chief Executive Officer Jay Crosson. “We are excited to be located so close the music, collegiate and Downtown Nashville communities, making this type of treatment as accessible as possible to those that might need it. Cumberland Heights is known for recovery, and Nashville is known for music, so this is a natural location for us.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry also spoke briefly at the opening event. “I want to thank the entire staff of Cumberland Heights for all the good work that they do for people who are overcoming addiction and regaining control of their lives,” said Mayor Barry.  “This facility is such an important component of how we go about building a warm and welcoming place and serving our community. Thanks to Cumberland Heights and the Boedecker Foundation for making all of this possible.”

George Boedecker, who originally came to Nashville years ago to “do music,” created the Boedecker Foundation that purchased and renovated the Music Row building for Cumberland Heights, making this new IOP possible.

“The mission of The Boedecker Foundation is to provide critical resources to nonprofit organizations that inspire positive change within diverse communities around the world,” said Boedecker. “It is such an honor and a privilege to be partnering with Cumberland Heights and their Intensive Outpatient Therapy Services at this location.  We look forward to a long-lasting and impactful relationship.”

Since its founding in 1966, Cumberland Heights has built a reputation for helping many music industry professionals recover life from drug and alcohol addiction. The Music Row IOP places a 12 step-based rehabilitative program nearer those who need it most and affords more flexible care for those who do not require the medical detoxification that requires inpatient care.

The Music Row IOP is Cumberland Heights’ tenth outpatient facility in Tennessee and the first in the central part of Nashville. The organization opened its first IOP in 1987.

Photos from the grand opening

Introdution by Jay Crosson, CEO of Cumberland Heights, and speech from Mayor Megan Barry

Introdution by Jay Crosson, CEO of Cumberland Heights, and speech from Mayor Megan Barry

About Cumberland Heights

Cumberland Heights’ mission is to transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol or drug addiction. As a non-profit organization, Cumberland Heights is committed to the approximately 2,500 men, women and adolescents it serves every year and the communities where its facilities are located. The organization has followed the teachings of the 12 Steps since its founding in 1966.

About the Boedecker Foundation

The Boedecker Foundation aspires to encourage positive outcomes through programs focused on education, health and wellness, youth development, along with family and community collaboration. At the central and innermost framework of The Boedecker Foundation’s endowments are partnerships and enduring relationships with organizations like Cumberland Heights, that have committed extensive resources to improve environmental circumstances, provide access to healthcare programs, and create opportunities for individuals, their families and communities in which they live. Through these guiding principles our Foundation has distributed over 28 million dollars to organizations in Tennessee and all across the nation.

# # #

Media Contact:
Amy A. Atkinson, APR
Amy Atkinson Communications
4117 Hillsboro Pike, Ste. 103308
Nashville, TN  37215
Cell: 615-305-8118
Email: Amy@AmyACommunications.com
www.AmyACommunications.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The alleged leader of a Honduran drug group has been arrested in Nashville.

Officials with Metro Nashville Police said in a Tweet Tuesday morning that Victor Cardoza Martinez was taken into custody at an apartment on Nolensville Pike.

Check out Cumberland Heights’ own Dr. Chapman Sledge discussing the local heroin epidemic and Honduran drug leader’s arrest with News Channel 4.

According to investigators, Martinez is the group’s suspected leader. Police also seized heroin, cocaine and cash in the raid.

February 25, 2016 – A small seed planted over a year ago has grown to fruition with the opening of an outpatient drug rehabilitation facility in Cumberland County. The latest effort to address the rising addiction epidemic is the result of a cooperative effort involving many community agencies and leaders.

 

Cabin in the Woods: Cumberland Heights opens outpatient facility
Cabin in the Woods: Cumberland Heights opens outpatient facility in Crossville, TN
Tuesday an open house was held at Cumberland Good Samaritans (CGS) located off Tenth St. with an overflow crowd gathered to get a first glimpse of “the cabin in the woods” that will serve as Cumberland Heights’ outpatient facility.

 
“There is a big need to address drug and alcohol addiction issues in our community,” CGS Director Mickey Eldridge told the gathering that included persons from law enforcement, social action agencies, citizen volunteer groups and professionals in the field who deal with the issue.

 
“Folks within the community need services and assistances and it became a goal to grow some intervention services,” Eldridge said.

 
CGS board member Steve Stone first brought the need for an outpatient facility to discussion, asking Eldridge what CGS could do to see this happen. He contacted Cumberland Heights whose representatives were receptive to the idea of opening a facility in Crossville.

 
The CGS board then decided to donate use of a cabin it had purchased when it became available and after renovations were done, Cumberland Heights appointed Jerry Baryer to oversee the Cumberland County facility.

 
Cumberland Heights has a long and respected national reputation in the field of alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded by Robert Crichton Sr. and Dr. Thomas Frist Sr. with the mission to “transform lives, giving hope and healing to those affected by alcohol and drug addiction.”

 
That mission incorporates the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous with the therapeutic tools necessary to live productive, sober lives.


Cumberland Heights board members and staff hold commemorative coins to celebrate Cumberland Heights’ 50th anniversary.
Cumberland Heights board members and staff hold commemorative coins to celebrate Cumberland Heights’ 50th anniversary.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Cumberland Heights has had a longstanding relationship with the Nashville music industry. However, the non-profit organization has never had a facility on Music Row. That will change in May when Cumberland Heights opens its first Music Row intensive outpatient facility (IOP), to be located at 1619 17th Ave. South.

The IOP treatment program is designed for individuals who have completed or do not require medically-supervised detoxification.

Cumberland Heights also offers a professional musicians track, which combines traditional treatment with specialized components geared toward professional musicians. Musicians learn how the disease effects their profession, and how to surround themselves with a support system for recovery. The Music Row IOP will also be available to work with people who live and work near Music Row. This includes the collegiate recovery community as well as the many business people working downtown who would find this IOP convenient to them in their recovery.

The opening will mean a total of 10 locations available to help communities in Tennessee. Cumberland Heights has IOP facilities in Chattanooga, Cool Springs, Crossville, Hermitage/Old Hickory, Jackson, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Sumner County (Gallatin), in Nashville on River Road and soon Music Row.

PeytonHoge photos-006 copyAdditionally, Cumberland Heights will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

“We are honored and proud to have been a trusted provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment for five decades,” said Jay Crosson, CEO of Cumberland Heights. “Fifty years of experience brings us so many positive examples of helping patients and their families – we hope to be able to share some of these with the community throughout the year.”

During a celebration party, staff and board members received 50th anniversary commemorative coins modeled after “sober coins” that are used during recovery.

Addiction doesn’t know zip codes, GPAs, or bank account balances.

Teen-Vogue-How-This-Teen-Beat-Alcoholism-at-17


Article: Teen Vogue: How This Teen Beat Alcoholism
Author:
Written: FEB 16, 2016 11:21AM EST

The first week of senior year for most high school students means seeing old friends, figuring out new class schedules, and feeling the excitement of doing every high school thing for the last time. For Regan*, then 17, it meant going to rehab.

 
The night before her parents pulled her out of school to admit her to a 30-day in-patient drug and alcohol treatment program, Regan had run away from home. With nowhere to go, hiding in a bush and covered in poison ivy, she made her way to a local fire station where she called her parents. The next day her life would change forever.

 
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in its fifth edition as of 2013, refers to the disease of alcoholism as Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD. Individuals diagnosed with an AUD are placed along a disease continuum ranging from mild to severe.

 

Regan didn’t smoke crack or carry a gun. She didn’t bounce from school to school or sell drugs. She went to a high school for gifted students and lived in a private, upper-middle-class neighborhood. When she talks about her childhood, she describes it as “ideal” and “perfect.” None of this mattered though. Addiction doesn’t know zip codes, GPAs, or bank account balances.

 

“My mind was killing me. I couldn’t be happy when I was drunk or high. It wasn’t the same as it was those first times,” says Regan, who first started drinking when she was 14.

 

On the night she ran away, Regan had gotten in a fight with her parents. They’d found out about her older boyfriend, read through all the messages on her phone, taken her car keys and her bedroom doorknob. Realizing her attempt to run away wasn’t worth it, that none of it — the drinking, the drugs, the getting in trouble — was worth it, she gave up.

 

“This isn’t how my life is supposed to be. I’m in need of a change, no matter what that is,” Regan remembers thinking. “I couldn’t continue living the way I was. I was going to die.”

 

Tammy Stone, a licensed professional counselor at Cumberland Heights, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located outside Nashville, Tennessee, works with patients, many under the age of 21, and their families to help them better understand addiction.

 

For many young people, trouble with alcohol and drugs begins with a precipitating event: a parent’s divorce, a break up with a partner, rejection from a dream school, perhaps the death of a loved one.

 

“If they [the patients] don’t have the coping skills or support to work through the event, they might turn to alcohol and drugs to cope,” says Stone. When this happens, the feelings associated with the precipitating event — disappointment, fear, confusion, sadness, anger — are all still there; they never went anywhere.

 

There isn’t always a precipitating event. Regan describes a general feeling of otherness, a feeling like she didn’t quite fit the mold of her peers or like she was missing the life manual everyone else seemed to have.

 

“If you’re experiencing negative consequences in at least three life areas as a result of a particular behavior, like drinking, you have a problem,” she advises. Failing or dropping grades, conflict in peer groups, getting arrested or cited for illegal activity, even losing interest in activities that once brought joy — these events begin to add up to something that looks like more than just the consequences of experimentation.

 

While there are more women in the public spotlight today sharing about their experiences with alcohol and drug abuse (Eva Mendes, Adwoa Aboah, Kelly Osbourne, Kat Von D), there is still a considerable social stigma women face when confronting addiction.

 

“There’s more of a social degradation, so women tend to hide it,” says Stone, adding that for young women, this is compounded by parents who enable, hide, or deny their child’s behavior.

 

“Parents want to protect them from that [the social stigma]. They have a hard time admitting ‘my daughter is an alcoholic,’ so they’ll bail them out of trouble, send them to different colleges, hire lawyers to get them out of legal trouble,” says Stone, “And what that does is send girls a message that, ‘OK, I can’t have this problem. My family is not accepting of me having this problem.'” Shame and denial bury the problem deeper.

 

Alcohol and drug abuse is also linked to sexual assault. A 2015 study conducted by The Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation revealed one in five college-aged women have been victims of sexual assault. The report stated, “Most notably, two-thirds of victims say they had been drinking alcohol just before the incidents.”

 

At Cumberland Heights, Stone estimates, conservatively, at least 80% of the female patients have some kind of sexual trauma in their history. “A lot of times, alcoholism doesn’t come to light until they suffer their first sexual assault. That’s if they’ll talk about it.” The shame that so often accompanies a sexual assault then gets tangled up with the shame and denial of addiction. One begins to feed the other and a way out can seem impossible to find.

 

On the way to treatment, Regan remembers thinking she didn’t have a problem with drugs or alcohol, that it was something else altogether. “That’s what I thought treatment was, addressing your problems with drugs and alcohol. But then I realized when I got there that no, those actually aren’t the problems; they’re symptoms.”

 

Just shy of 18, Regan was the oldest in her adolescent program in treatment. Initially, all she could hear was how different she was from everyone else. Over the days and weeks though, she began to realize how similar everyone’s stories were. Regan could replace alcohol for someone else’s heroin or crack, and the feelings were all the same: different, uncomfortable, ashamed, tired, defeated. In treatment, she worked with counselors and case managers to address underlying issues that led to self-medicating with alcohol and drugs.

 

Regan describes struggling early in sobriety with the awkwardness of experiencing life in a sober body: meeting new people, going to events sober, changing old habits and behaviors. The benefits, however, of the sober life quickly outweighed the chaos and instability of the drinking life. No more waking up next to people whose names she couldn’t remember, no more hangovers or blackouts, no more wasting time chasing alcohol and drugs. More than that, sobriety came to mean finding out what she liked to do for fun, uncovering (and appreciating) their authentic selves, and being present for their lives in a way she had never been before.

 

Stone stresses the importance of finding a supportive community, one that understands not only that you don’t drink, but that you can’t drink. That community may look vastly different from what it used to look like before sobriety; in many ways, that’s the point. Many individuals struggle to maintain sobriety when they fall back in with old friends and old habits, ones that don’t support sober living.

 

Through AA, which also has a young people’s program called Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (icYPAA), and her meditation group, Regan found other people her age trying to do exactly what she was trying to do: stay sober one day at a time.

 

“Young people in recovery care for each other,” Regan explains, “They need each other. They need to see that other people can do it so they can do it.”

 

* Names changed or last names withheld to protect individuals’ anonymity.

 


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