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Brighton Recovery Center for Women marks 10 years of helping women move toward sobriety, productivity

By Vicki Prichard
NKyTribune reporter

Ten years ago, when the Brighton Recovery Center for Women opened, alcohol, marijuana, and some cocaine were generally the addictions that plagued the women who came through its doors.

During a visit to the Brighton Recovery Center for Women in October, Gov. Matt Bevin said the Center is an example of a program that works. Left to right, Gov. Bevin, Brighton Recovery Center for Women Executive Director Anita Prater and Tammy Weidinger, Brighton Center president and CEO (photo by Mark Hansel).

And while the center is in the business of helping women recover from substance abuse and addition, you might say it’s the math that they share that’s daunting, and chronicles the growing epidemic of addiction in the region.

“When we first started, we were seeing OxyContin and other pain pills,” says Anita Prater, Brighton Recovery Center Director. “Then, two years later, I started seeing tracking opiates. I believe that first year, we had somewhere in the mid-fifties admitted, and within three years, it was up 75 percent. And it got to be 98 percent every year after that.”

Prater says she things many people are scared of the fentanyl and carfentanyl that’s being added to heroin, and are finding other drugs to use to avoid dying. As for factors that contribute to women’s addiction, Prater says among the situations she sees are women who find themselves in relationships where drug use is involved.

“I could open another recovery center and fill it within two months,” says Prater. “I have a two-month waiting list – I keep a two-month waiting list – probably for the last three years, or maybe longer. What’s sad is when we opened in 2008, in May, it took me until October to get close to 70 women in the program. But now, I could fill another facility in a heartbeat.”

During a visit to the Center in October, Gov. Matt Bevin called it an example of a program that works.

The 100-bed facility, located in Boone County, utilizes a recovery dynamic curriculum and a peer-driven model of recovery to help women recover from chronic substance abuse and addiction. The focus, to help women change their behavior, skills, and attitudes related to their addictive lifestyles, takes a long-term, holistic approach to recovery.

The program employs four phases, which include providing a safe environment; a motivational, low pressure environment to commit to the process of recovery; effective solutions to the problems of addiction; and a means of reintroduction back into society.

Gov. Matt Bevin talks with Prater and a resident at Brighton Recovery Center for Women during the October visit (file photo).

A key piece of the program is called trudging.

“To trudge means to walk with a purpose,” says Prater.

Once the women get into the second recovery phase of the program, they trudge off-site, two-miles every morning.

“We’re assessing motivation for recovery. We know that women go through great lengths to get their drugs and alcohol, and we want to see what they’re willing to do to get sober. What is their motivation for being here?” says Prater. “Trudging in snow, rain, all kinds of weather – if you’re willing to do that – that tells us something about you.”
Trudging also helps reset the women’s body chemistry, and impacts their mental and emotional health as well as physical well-being.

“One of the things that people don’t realize – and what I just love about trudging – is the community sees women walking together,” says Prater. “They’ll come here and say, “Why are they walking five days a week to and from your facility?” And we get to tell them about our program, offer tours, and say, ‘Those women – the people you see in the news, or this stereotype that you have in your mind what drug addicts look like – we’ve just showed you what recovery looks like and what they’re willing to do.’”

By the time the women get to the trudging component of their treatment, Prater says they’re just glad to get outside.

“When they come here we take their make-up, there’s no fixing their hair. They have to earn those privileges while they’re here,” says Prater.

Prater points out that the recovery center is not a treatment program, and instead of the women being there for a short period of time, with staff explaining the disease to them and recommending what they should do about their life issues, Brighton Recovery Center actually gives them the opportunity to put all of that into practice.

The center collaborates with other agencies in the region. Prater says the Northern Kentucky Women’s Crisis Center does programs on healthy relationships, the Family Nurturing Center does classes, a local church presents classes on the differences between spirituality and religion, which, she says, helps them understand the 12-step principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and take ownership of their actions.

And when they complete the program and leave, does Prater hold her breath, concerned for their well-being?

“That is so true,” she says. “That’s why we invite them to stay in touch with the house. They will continue to have questions and struggles. A lot of our alumni come back and sponsor women.”

A while back, Prater says, the recovery center posted on its closed Facebook alumni page that one of the women, whose mother was taking care of her infant son, needed diapers. For days, alumni brought boxes of diapers to donate.

Paying it forward seems to become the next chapter for many of the women, their life narratives leading up to the recovery often defined by hard times and heartache.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says Prater. “One of my previous staff members wrote about her success story. Her mom and dad had separated, then they were kicked out of their home, and she and her dad wound up living in a VW. She would wake up and there would be other people in the car and she had no idea who they were. She went through the program and turned her life around – was able to get an apartment on her own, got visitation rights with her son, and then got custody of her son. She completed our program and became a peer mentor.”

Alumni of the Brighton Recovery Center for Women will share their journey of sobriety and self-sufficiency with guests when the center for Women celebrates its 10th anniversary on Wednesday, June 13 at 10 a.m. with a morning program that will include guest speaker Edwin King, executive director of the Kentucky Housing Corporation; Boone County Judge Executive, Gary Moore, Tammy Weidinger, Brighton Center president and CEO, Jeremy Hayden, Brighton Center board of directors chair, and Prater.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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