The Odessa Record -

Addiction, mental health stigma a hurdle


January 4, 2018

It’s called “NIMBY-ism” and it can kill if left to fester. Short for “not in my backyard,” this community-reinforced roadblock often prevents drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities from opening, and that means those in the throes of addiction must look elsewhere for help or die in droves.

In October 2017, Florida native Brittany Ringersen – who’ll mark nine years as an individual in recovery this spring – celebrated the fourth anniversary of the opening of her Boynton Beach, Florida-based rehab center. What makes this milestone so significant is that Ringersen is the chief operating officer of Lighthouse Recovery Institute and knows all too well what it’s like to languish while looking for a helping hand.

“Addiction and mental health impacts the lives of almost every family system in the United States in some capacity,” CEO Ringersen said in a recent interview, adding that the “stigma attached to mental illness and addiction has not caught up with contemporary society and is often associated with an old ideology of what individuals suffering from these disorders or issues resemble. These individuals now resemble your son, your daughter, your co-worker or your grandparent.”

As documented by countless media reports from across the country, establishing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic isn’t always a straightforward process. This is often due to the entirely erroneous belief that those in treatment will be wandering the neighborhood streets at night.

“Communities are suffering from escalated drug use, unemployment or other various issues associated with dual-diagnosis disorders. However, these same communities are reluctant to allow rehabilitation facilities to open and operate within the confines in that community they are trying to serve,” says Ringersen, adding that in-patient programs at Lighthouse Recovery Institute allow for those in need to enroll in a wide variety of programs specially designed to meet the unique needs of men, women and even entire families.

According to Ringersen, who has previously appeared on NBC’s “Nightly News” and the “Today” show, there are three ways to ensure the successful operation of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

Be transparent: The community needs to know who will be helped and the programs that will be offered at the facility.

Be available: This goes for both those seeking treatment as well as their family, friends and loved ones who’ll often need guidance on what options are best for them.

Be committed: The only way that Lighthouse Recovery Institute could have celebrated its fourth year of operation in October 2017 was by sticking to the clinically-driven treatment plan that truly helps people get clean once and for all.

“Until a massive shift occurs in the general public’s mind – and frankly the heart, too – individuals in need of recovery and the agencies trying relentlessly every day to assist in that pursuit will continue to face substantial hurdles,” Ringersen said.


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