National Council on Alcoholism: A lifeline for low-income residents

Over the past five years, the statewide substance abuse system has gone back to its roots, returning to a recovery method of care. A $10,000 grant to the National Council on Alcoholism/Lansing Regional Area provides low-income people in our region with treatment for addiction.

“If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you have to manage those diseases for the rest of your life,” said Pat Wheeler. “With addiction, we’ve been treating it like it’s an acute disease even though it’s chronic. That doesn’t work.”

Wheeler, executive director of NCA’s Lansing region, said people — and insurance companies — looked at a month-long stay in a treatment program as some kind of magic spell. Change is difficult, she said — whether it’s remembering to drink eight glasses of water a day or making a conscious decision not to use a substance.

The best thing you can do for families is to get somebody’s parents sober. That’s how kids learn what the difference is between using and not using and what that can do to a family."

— Pat Wheeler, executive director, NCA's Lansing region

“We go back to what’s comfortable for us,” she said. “If what’s been comforting for you is alcohol or drugs, it’s very hard to change that.”

The Community Foundation grant helps NCA cover the costs of treatment for low-income people battling addiction. “We usually see between 800 and 1,000 people a year through our residential and outpatient programs,” Wheeler said. More than 90 percent of them require some level of subsidy.

“We want to be able to give people enough case management and recovery coaching and individual therapy to keep them in treatment, keep them sober and give them time,” she said. “CRCF’s grant is most helpful in supplementing this.”

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