Twin Ports has many paths to recovery

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You hear local people say it all the time: "There's good recovery here."

What it means is we're fortunate to have hope and resources in our region to help people overcome addiction and substance abuse. And more than just talking about it, we've put time, money, attention and care into making sure that the tools are in place to offer help.

How do you measure a city's or a region's quality of treatment and recovery? One way is by counting the number of meetings available for people who are working to overcome addiction and live sober lives. Simply counting the number of meetings offered through Alcoholics Anonymous in the Twin Ports region, there are more than 100 every week.

That doesn't include similar meetings for groups such as Narcotics Anonymous as well as other programs that go by names such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, Health Realization, Crystal Meth Anonymous and DULYPAA (Duluth Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous). Some of these programs support those trying to recover from addiction. Others support individuals with family members or friends who are working to get better.

At the Duluth Bethel, we're part of the local recovery network. Our organization has been working for 143 years to help stabilize people struggling with life's burdens. These days, a big part of what we do at the large brick building at 23 Mesaba Ave. is help people with inpatient and outpatient drug and alcoholism treatment. We also have one of the largest AA meetings each week, open to the public at 7 p.m. every Saturday in our gymnasium.

Why talk about treatment and recovery? We believe it's one of the best ways we can connect with people who are struggling so they can get help.

Asking for help is a big step for those in the throes of addiction. Many understand that they are in trouble, at least at some level. Many also have tried to stop drinking or abusing drugs themselves one or more times, to no avail.

For most people, it takes help to get better. But the message of hope that more people need to hear is that help is right here in our community, and in large quantities. Minnesota and Wisconsin both have strong statewide recovery networks. But amid that strength, the Twin Ports stand out for having an abundance of options to achieve sobriety.

In every major city of the U.S. there is an Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup Office. Ours is called the Twin Ports Area Intergroup. These offices provide a directory of area AA meetings and names of people willing to be temporary sponsors, men for men and women for women. These are people who have been through the wringer themselves, are grateful for their recovery and want to give back. Many describe sponsor connections as nothing short of a miracle.

The same holds true for other local support groups that provide more lights of hope. There seems to be a theme here. That's why we say there's good recovery here.

Our local network of options is growing stronger. In 2017, the recovery community is teaming up to offer information about detox and treatment options through the telephone 211 system of the Head of the Lakes United Way. A person seeking help, or his or her family, friends or physician, can simply call 211 and get up-to-date information about treatment bed-space openings and other assistance.

The sooner we can get people services, the sooner healing can begin. That's why the new 211 system will be a tremendous asset. The project was a recommendation of the Northeast Minnesota Opioid Abuse Response Strategies work group, a collaboration committed to addressing addiction to opioid narcotics and other substances.

Recently, opioid abuse has received a lot of attention, here and nationally. We're seeing much more of it than ever before, especially in the form of addiction to prescription painkillers. This has presented challenges locally and in other communities. But it is addiction, plain and simple, an issue with which we have dealt for years.

The good news, even as some of the substances of addiction change, is that there is hope. That's especially true for us in the Twin Ports, with so many options for sobriety and living healthy outside of addiction's grasp.

As we like to say, there's good recovery here.

Need help with alcohol or drug issues or know someone who might? Here are some online resources to answer questions and direct you to more specific assistance:

Local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and resources: area35.org

Narcotics Anonymous

12 Step Recovery

For families: al-anon.org and nar-anon.org

Celebrate Recovery, Duluth

Damiano Center Health Realizations

Crystal Meth Anonymous