Alcohol related deaths on the rise, local recovery center weighs in

For Tina Simons, here wake up call came at 16-years-old.

Posted: Jan 22, 2020 4:46 PM
Updated: Jan 23, 2020 10:07 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - For Tina Simons, her wake up call came at 16-years-old.

"I dragged my IV thing with me to the bathroom," she said, "and I saw myself in the mirror and realized I'm going to die. If I don't stop, this is going to kill me."

Simons was face to face with death in the hospital. 

It was that day, she made a vow to herself.

"I haven't had a drink since October 31, 2004," she said.

Simons started drinking at 14. While she often was an overachiever growing up and excelling in school, she ran along with an opposite crowd.

"I was hanging out with seedy people, who were coping with life in really risky, unhealthy ways," she said. 

Drinking, at the time, was her outlet to escape from fears and anxieties. The night she was sent to the hospital, she recalled meeting with her mom. 

"I actually had gone to my mom that night to, one more time, ask her to stop drinking," she said, "and she said no, and I lost it."

While Simons was able to see a life of recovery, her mother did not. She ultimately passed away from alcoholism at 48.

"She was good, she was vibrant, she was hilarious, she was charismatic," said Simons, "People loved her, and yet she struggled, she couldn't stop."

"I saw that love wasn't enough," she added, "If love were enough, my mom would be here today as a sober woman, but the fact that love can't be enough... that's humbling, that's scary. It also kind of explains my mom was not her addiction, she was not her alcoholism."

Sharing Tina, and her mom's story comes in light of a recent study. It claims the number of alcohol-related deaths is increasing throughout the U.S., especially among women.

"We need stigma reduction," said Dana Simons, "We need people to be ok asking for help and coming out of that denial."

Dana, who is also Tina's stepmother, is the executive director of Next Step Recovery in Terre Haute.

At Next Step, Dana says they've seen around 800 people go through its programs, which address drug and alcohol addiction. At a given time, she says they have about 35-50 people they serve.

Dana says the disconnect in people seeking help is the lack of mental health providers, vibrant and strong 12-step programs and eliminating the stigma. 

However, in Indiana, especially Vigo County, Dana says that narrative continues to change.

Next Step was one of several organizations to receive grant money through the Vigo County Prosecutor's Office. That money, which is divided out among the groups, will go to supporting addiction resources for those in need.

"It requires all of us, as a community to solve it," she said, "It's very meaningful to know that we're not stigmatized. It's not 'those people', oh you deal with 'those people'. That's going away."

Next Step is also a founder of the Wabash Valley Recovery Alliance. The group features 55 people, and agencies, that meet once a month. Together, they brainstorm resources, treatment and other ideas for addiction recovery services. 

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