LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – There are countless families affected by drug addiction and the holiday season can bring with it a lot of shame and guilt-ridden anxiety, not only for those struggling, but also for their families.
“I definitely dreaded the holidays when I was struggling with addiction,” Vanessa Keeton told FOX 56. “When everybody gathers together, you don’t know what kind of chaos can come out of that.”
Keeton is the Senior Director of Talent and Engagement with Addiction Recovery Care (ARC), but prior to this struggled with substance abuse herself. Keeton says she dealt with active addiction for 13 years. In 2010, Keeton says she crashed her family’s Thanksgiving, calling it “probably the worst Thanksgiving we’ve ever had.” A few months prior in September, Keeton appeared in court. A county attorney and longtime family friend helped begin the push towards treatment.
“When I went to court in 2010, he basically looked at me and said, ‘your death is not going to be on my conscience.’ Because he’d watched me grow up, he knew my whole family, and he’d just watched me basically deteriorate into a shell of a human,” Keeton said.
But Keeton says it couldn’t have happened without the support of her mom, and making the choice came with a lot of fear and anxiety.
“I wasn’t ready at all. I knew what the court was saying, I knew I had to go to treatment or jail, but at that time jail didn’t seem as scary to me as treatment. It was literally the fear of the unknown. I had been to jail before. I hadn’t done a lengthy time there, but I knew what it was like,” Keeton said.
As much as it was a challenge to make the decision to start treatment, the decision to stay was also something to overcome but became easier with time.
“By the time I got through the first 5 to 7 days of being there and my withdrawals began to subside, then it was a whole lot easier to start making better, conscious choices,” Keeton said.
As the holidays arrive, Keeton said ARC typically sees a jump in calls. She said their influx of people grows fast around the first 3 weeks of January, whether it be some seeking out a New Year’s resolution or families giving tough love through Casey’s Law.
Casey’s Law was passed in 2004 and allows legal intervention to force an individual into treatment due to their own inability to recognize the need for it due to their impairment.
“Anyone can pursue Casey’s Law on someone. The only thing is that you’re responsible for paying for their treatment, but if they have Medicaid they can come to ARC for free,” Keeton said. “It takes bravery to go to treatment and it takes bravery to be that person to pull that trigger and say I’m going to file Casey’s Law if you’re unwilling to do it, but I’ve seen amazing results. I’ve seen people’s lives completely transformed through that program.”
You can learn more about treatment options available on ARC’s website.