Hattie Stein: Providing ammunition
in the battle against addiction
By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Editor’s Note: September is National Recovery Month. Please see the contact information at the bottom of this story if you need help with alcohol or drug addiction. If you think you may have a gambling addiction, call (800) 522-4700, or visit www.ksgamblinghelp.com.
The good news, says addiction counselor Hattie Stein, is that addiction is one of the “most treatable chronic diseases of our time.”
The bad news, she explained, is that the assent into addiction is like “being on an airplane that’s been high jacked.
“You think you’re going to Florida, and suddenly you land in New York. You think you’re doing okay -- seeking your career, your ideals for your life -- and the next thing you know, you’re in a whole different place.” In the beginning, most addicts have “no clue how they got there. You don’t know that you’ve been high jacked and you’re headed in a whole different direction. It’s very scary …. You experience feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. And when we’re hopeless, we’re powerless. And when we’re powerless, we can’t act on our own behalf. That’s why it takes support.”
Stein has been offering support to those battling addiction for nearly 25 years. From her office at Catholic Social Service in Dodge City, Stein works as a National Certified Alcohol Counselor, Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor, and a National Advanced Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist. She has worked for the diocese for about five years.
Herself a recovering alcoholic, Stein is well aware of the challenges of recovery.
In an article she wrote for the Southwest Kansas Register honoring Father Dermot Tighe, she wrote, in part: “The one beer that I was going to drink turned into a case of beer. … The following two hours were hours of ‘hell’. During that ‘hell,’ the words of Father Tighe spoke in my head: ‘If you ever want to talk about your drinking, call me.’ I went to the phone and made the most difficult call of my life. Father Tighe was receptive and set a time. Ken took me up to Father’s when he came home from work. I remember Father talking about alcoholism and I wanted to cover my ears, but I did listen and agreed to go with him to the next Alcoholics Anonymous meeting ‘to see’ if I was alcoholic.
“That decision I made with the encouragement of Father Tighe and the undying love and support of my husband and family not only saved my life, my family, and my faith, but also has allowed me to nurture and guide others through the recovery process. By the grace of God and support of my family and friends, on June 10, 2010 I celebrated my 30th year of sobriety. I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”
She stressed that it’s important people not fall into the trap of associating drug and alcohol addiction with one group. It’s an “equal opportunity disease,” she said. “It is not governed by race, creed, gender, nationality, or age.”
In late 2008, Stein was one of 25 people from the United States invited to visit addiction treatment centers in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the end of her four days in St. Petersburg, she spent an additional four days in Poland.
While Russia now boasts treatment centers and addiction professionals, the problems caused by addiction are no less rampant.
“There’s a lot of female trafficking in Russia,” Stein said. “They trade sex for drugs -- they even trade children for drugs. Most of the time it’s a transaction, a business deal -- that’s how they see it. That happens in the United States, too. AIDS cases have zoomed in Russia.
“It’s a huge market, and there’s tons of money in it. Alcohol, drugs and sex are the three most powerful motivators.”