Panel discussion on recovery

Panelists Dr. Michael Blain, Matt Picchietti, Cris Corzine-McCloskey, Anna Jurich, Paul Traiano, Brandon Zanotti and Jonathan Edwards asnwer questions during a discussion about recovery Thursday evening at John A. Logan College in Carterville. 

CARTERVILLE — Sometimes being anonymous is not a good thing, as those gathered to watch a screening of the film “The Anonymous People” Thursday evening at John A. Logan College learned. The film talks about recovery and ways to improve long-term recovery.

Allison Hasler, Marion regional health officer for Illinois Department of Public Health, was one of the organizers of the event, which was sponsored by Williamson County Substance Abuse Taskforce.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to start a conversation in a very public way and deal with recovery in an open, non-judgmental way that would head Southern Illinois in a positive direction,” Hasler said.

Bradley Bullock, area administrator of TASC and 29 years in recovery, served as moderator of the event. He said most people are very aware there is a crisis in our country regarding opioid abuse.

“We know what the issue is. Everybody knows what the issue is. We want to talk about answers. We want to talk about solutions,” Bullock said.

The film stresses that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. The disease is estimated to affect two-thirds of American families, with nearly 23 million people living in recovery and another 20 million suffering from addiction who are not in recovery.

After the film, audience members could ask questions of a panel of local experts in addiction and recovery. Panelists were Cris Corzine-McCloskey, director of Caring Counseling Ministries who is in her 12th year in recovery; Paul Traiano, SIH system director of pharmacy; A’nna Jurich, program director for Gateway Foundation; Master Sgt. Jonathan Edwards, director of Southern Illinois Drug Taskforce, Illinois State Police; Williamson County State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti, Dr. Michael Blain of Christopher Rural Health Planning Corporation; and Matt Picchietti, clinician with Centerstone, Inc.

Denise Glennon told the group about her son who is in recovery. He has completed an inpatient program and is a recovery home in Northern Illinois.

“I want him to come back home, but I don’t think the community here is ready to support him,” she said. “What is available for him?”

Dr. Blain suggested starting with Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous and calling the county health department to learn what resources exist. Blain also offers shots that will block the effects of opioids for those at risk of relapsing.

Picchietti suggested calling 2-1-1. The number is a hotline for services and can give the caller a list of counselors, NA meetings, doctors and other resources to help someone in recovery.

“We are in desperate need of a sober living environment in this area,” Corzine-McCloskey said.

Other audience members asked for detailed information on the services Dr. Blain provides, what is planned for Williamson County’s nonviolent offender program and how to talk to young people about abuse of marijuana.

Edwards said 90 percent of the people Illinois State Police deal with started with marijuana.

“One thing I know about pot is it’s never made anyone more ambitious,” Corzine-McCloskey said.

Jurich said there has been an interesting shift in beliefs about marijuana in the past two years. She suggested educating people with facts.

Another person asked what to do if they suspected a home in their neighborhood was a drug house. Edwards said there is a hotline to report suspected drug activity. It is 618-435-1982.

When asked how to help a person who does not want help, Dr. Blain and several other panelists said you cannot help someone who does not want help.

“Recovery is the most difficult thing you will ever do, so they have want help,” Blain said.

Picchietti and Jurich said it is important for loved ones to keep lines of communication open, but still mention recovery. They also suggested counseling for the family member.

Finally, the panelists suggested lobbying legislators to increase funding for recovery.

“We have to expand treatment for opioid addicts. We have to. It’s an investment. They have to start increasing funding for these treatment programs,” Zanotti said.

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Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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