Manning Regional Healthcare Center
National Recovery Month 2021: Recovery is for Everyone
Note: This is part two in a multi-part series where we will showcase a different recovery story each week for the month of September.
Manning, Iowa – For many people struggling with addiction, alcohol serves as the solution for the anxiety, stress, and pains of daily life. But alcohol as a solution often leaves feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation, and can eventually deteriorate relationships with family, friends, and community. The “jumping off” point comes only when you realize you need to do something about it or lose everything. Or die. Pastor K.’s journey to lasting recovery was no different.
After going through two 30-day treatment programs in Nebraska, the first in 1991 and the second in 2008, without the tools or conviction to continue sobriety outside the walls of the treatment center, Pastor K. eventually slipped right back into the grips of addiction. “Each time I would quit, I would think ‘Ok, now I can go home and consume alcohol responsibly.’”
But in April of 2014, his tipping point came. Feeling isolated and struggling to get through the daily challenges and joys of his marriage, work, and family, Pastor K. felt like his whole life was going to crumble beneath him. He didn’t know where to turn. It was then that a friend, who had been through the Recovery Center in Manning nine years prior, got him into the hospital. Pastor K. would spend four days in the ICU for cross addiction treatment, fighting for his life from the effects of years of drinking and prescription medication use. It was just weeks after that he was admitted to Manning’s Recovery Center for a third attempt at treatment.
The Recovery Center at Manning Regional Healthcare Center is dedicated to helping those, like Pastor K., who struggle with addiction. Throughout National Recovery Month, we are sharing stories of recovery right here close to home. National Recovery Month is a national observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.
Not alone: finding recovery in community
In the early days of treatment, Pastor was skeptical. “I thought it would be pretty much like the last two times. I’d spend thirty days and I’d get better. Maybe even redeem myself in the eyes of my family.”
Counselors at the Recovery Center helped him in dealing with the guilt and shame he held onto; in particular, his ability to help others but not considering himself worthy of that same help.
Things really started to change for Pastor when the Recovery Center connected him to a special group of people: a Wednesday night Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group. There he was surrounded by people from all walks of life, not just those in treatment, but people who were living life sober and dealing with the pain that he had been trying to anesthetize himself from whenever he turned to alcohol.
“I realized I could live life and deal with the day-to-day stuff and start to see what life was like outside of treatment. Manning was where I started to learn that there were people who had experiences in life like mine, who had professional vocations like mine, who could live life happy, joyous, and free without alcohol.”
Pastor K. reflects that the fellowship in the church and the salvation he has in his Savior is irreplaceable and is what will last forever. But the fellowship of AA enabled him to recognize that he isn’t alone. He recognized he didn’t have to stay in the basement, drinking ashamed and alone, cut off from his family.
“When you retreat into that, no one knows what you’re feeling inside. When Manning got me to those AA meetings, it’s when I finally started to realize there were other people who felt the way I did. It wasn’t like I was an individual case that was unique. And that’s huge for an alcoholic.”
“Working to build bridges between families, communities, and groups - the 2021 Recovery Month theme, Recovery is for Everyone - hopes to bring awareness and encouragement that we are not in this alone,” shared Recovery Center director, Taya Vonnahme, MSN, RN, ARNP, tCDAC. “Sharing our personal accomplishments and struggles, reaching across barriers to support one another, and actively dismantling systems that harm our recovery neighbors are all commitments to strive for as we celebrate our diversity and seek to develop the deeper understanding, caring, and connection that nurtures recovery.”
Finding success in recovery, for life
The Recovery Center in Manning and the Wednesday AA group served as a crucial transition for Pastor. “There were people there who helped build the bridge for me to the recovery that would take place outside, afterwards. They enabled me to see how important it was to take the tools that had been given to me and use them in the context of recovery outside of there, in groups like AA.”
Pastor K. mentions one man who was still with him on the phone even months after he had been in treatment, at a very critical time.
“You have a chance to think and get what you need to survive and to get your head straight. What Manning did for me enabled me to see how important it was to continue with recovery outside after I went home. I had to take it from, ‘ok, I’m better now’ to ‘this is going to be life-long.’ If I hadn’t taken their counsel, I don’t know why I wouldn’t be drinking again, or dead, like I was before. Alcohol was not my problem; it was my solution. Life goes on, struggles with work and family continue, but you suddenly realize that you can do it. That’s what Manning gave me the ability to see.”
On the other side of recovery
Pastor K. has been at a church in northwest Iowa since 1995 and celebrates seven-plus years of sobriety. He now volunteers to speak once a month at the Recovery Center about his experience and the principles of recovery.
“I never would have thought of Manning, Iowa. How good could it be? And now of course, I realize. When I go down there, I meet people from all over the state and out-of-state. It’s where God chose for me, that close to home. This place is right in our backyard in an unassuming little corner of a hospital. Where people care enough to help you see you can live life without alcohol.”
But, he says, “It only happens when you’re ready. You have to have had your last drink. I had to have that last drink on May 2nd before I got to that point where I knew I was either going to have to do something or I was going to die. Or lose everything. But I didn’t have to go five hundred miles away or to a big city.”
“During this year's National Recovery Month, remember that addiction isn’t something that just happens to people who have chosen a bad path in life. Addicts are our neighbors, our relatives, our friends, and they are sometimes even you and me," said Bradley Madsen, Recovery Center Counselor. "When we as helpers understand what we are up against, our job gets a little easier. Especially when we understand that we are not alone in this fight."
If you or a loved one need help with overcoming addiction, contact the Recovery Center at MRHC at (712) 655-2300. You are not alone.