June 11, 2014 — The director of a drug rehabilitation program and a metal health coordinator recently spoke about dealing with difference.
The Carter County Leadership academy welcomed Pastor Jim Varney, who runs Lifeline Connection, and Amanda Grigsby, ME.d, LPCC, NCC, who offers counseling services through Pathways in Grayson.
Together, the two spoke about their work with addicts and those with mental health issues.
“Unfortunately, in our culture, it is more socially acceptable to get drunk and high than to see a therapist,” Grigsby said. “The stigma that is attached to receiving mental help is fuel for disparity.”
Grigsby and Varney agree that education is the key to battling the drug epidemic, and helping addicts in the community.
“We help people get their stinking thinking straightened out,” Varney said. “But we need to followup with aftercare. Recovery is a life-long process. Prevention and awareness are the key to stopping it before it happens.”
Varney said the stigma, or shame, attached to a loved one being an addict keeps any people from seeking help early.
In that same line of thinking, early care for mental illness has similar issues.
“Many of our clients face a dual diagnosis,” Grigsby said. “They become addicted to drugs or alcohol because they are trying to self medicate a mental illness. There is shame attached to that too. Many don't feel they should need help for mental disorders that are very common.”
According to Varney, 10 percent of Carter County's population is addicted to drugs. With questions posed from the leadership group, addiction was equated to a weed. Mental illness could be considered the root of that weed.
“This is a battle we all are fighting, because addiction has touched everyone in this room,” Varney said. “You are the leaders – and I hope you will help change this perception.”