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By JACQUELINE PRIMO
An audience of clinicians and women in recovery gathered at CLARE Foundation in SantaMonica—an LA-based nonprofit that provides treatment, recovery and prevention services foralcoholism and substance abuse—on Friday, Feb. 26 for the Third Annual State of Addiction:Women in Recovery forum.
Also in attendance, and seated prominently in the front row, was Palisadian DorothyRichards, herself a woman in recovery for 40 years and namesake of the Dorothy RichardsFund for Women’s Recovery at CLARE.
Richards has been on the board of the CLARE Foundation since 1989 and is chair of the MajorGifts Committee.
“I thought the panel was dynamic and educational, and was one avenue to help familiesunderstand the torment of the substance abuser.“When recovery takes place, everyone wins—the family, community, health care system and,of course, the recovery person,” Richards told the PalisadianPost.
“Those in attendance heard statistics, but also learned about resources to help those who needassistance. I love this type of forum and look forward to CLARE’s participation in hosting futureevents,” Richards said.As the audience munched on sandwiches and cookies and sipped coffee, moderator LaurelRosen, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the crowd.
“Addiction looms as one of the most serious health issues affecting America today,” Rosen said.“We are here today to spotlight advances that can be, and have been made in recovery forwomen.”Keynote speaker Christine Grella, Medical Advisor to CLARE and UCLA Professor in theDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, gave a presentation highlighting theadvances in society’s understanding of women in recovery.
Grella said shockingly that about 6 percent of women and girls in the U.S. over the age of 12 needtreatment for alcohol or drug problems, while 85 percent of those women and girls feel no needfor treatment.Grella said that in 2012 only 11 percent of them actually received treatment, and still 4.5 percentfelt they needed treatment but did not get it.
Compared to men, women tend to have more severe substance abuse problems at the time oftreatment admission and experience a more rapid progression from initiation of use todependence on the substance to treatment for substance abuse, Grella explained.Still, only a third of national treatment facilities provides special services or programs forwomen, she added.
The CLARE Foundation is one such program.Panelists at the State of Addiction forum included Nancy Richards Chand, attorney for the LACounty Public Defender’s Office for 29 years.Chand has participated in the creation of treatment collaborations including the Second ChanceWomen’s RE-Entry Court, which provides intensive treatment for women otherwise ineligiblefor any other treatment program or Drug Court.
Also serving on the panel were Sarah Hepola, author of The New York Times bestselling memoir“Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget,” and April Wilson, who said she gotinvolved in the field of recovery due to her own personal challenges with addiction at the age of22 while she was pregnant.Wilson is the Vice President of Integration at Prototypes treatment facility and currently worksto ensure their high-quality integrated services.
“The ‘recovery story’ is really the universal story,” Hepola said during her emotionalpresentation, in which she opened up to the audience about her struggles with alcoholism beforequitting at the age of 35.“Sobriety is really a new beginning.”For more information, visit CLAREfoundation.org.