Gov. Burgum, First Lady Host “Recovery Reinvented” Conference
The conference drew people from a wide variety of fields
FARGO, N.D. — Gov. Doug Burgum and his wife, First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, hosted a conference that brought together people from a variety of fields. They are all working on one common goal: recovery for addicts.
One volunteer, Theresa Rassel, has been in recovery for alcoholism for 10 years.
She says she knew she had to make a change when her addiction was affecting her job and marriage, and she would be hung over every day.
“No one chooses to be an alcoholic or any type of addict. It’s not like a young kid sits there and says, ‘I think I’m going to be an alcoholic when I grow up,'” she said.
Recovery Reinvented brought together healthcare providers, experts, first responders, and many other groups.
“It takes a village. It takes people collaborating together to find solutions that work the best in industries, in corporations, communities, in schools,” Helgaas Burgum said.
“Today, when we take the 75,000 overdose deaths 88,000 alcohol related deaths, it’s like a 747 crashing every day in terms of the number of people in this country dying between drug and alcohol disease and overdose. So we have to approach it holistically. It’s going to require everybody,” Gov. Burgum said.
The governor says overdose deaths in North Dakota have more than tripled from 2013 to 2016. More than half of people in the state have somehow been affected by addiction.
“Not everybody falls under the same type of treatment program. There’s many different ways to look at it. I do think there needs to be more resources,” Rassel said.
Now, she’s is helping others down the road to recovery.
“It’s great when people are struggling and they see that, ‘yeah, she’s made it, I can make it,'” she said.
As a recovering addict herself, the First Lady says the first step of eliminating the stigma around addiction is just talking about it.
“Normalize the conversation,” Helgaas Burgum said.
Several initiatives were announced at the conference, including a state chapter of the Addiction Policy Forum and a faith–based peer support network.