Recovery Reinvented: Breaking down the stigma

BISMARCK, N.D. - Gov. Doug Burgum and the First Lady Kathryn Burgum hosted the third Recovery Reinvented event Tuesday. It focuses on ways to eliminate the shame and stigma of addiction.

Addiction is a topic we hear more and more about.

It's a chronic disease that affects behavior. In fact national statistics show 1 in 7 people suffer from addiction.

More than 1,200 were at the Recovery Reinvented event.

Many say hearing First Lady Kathryn's story of recovery helps them feel like they're not alone in their battle.

"It gives you courage to talk about it," said Stephanie Hess, Jamestown.

Kathryn Burgum's story on her own recovery has helped others across the state.

Hess attended the convention with her friend. She says she's three months sober.

"From being on the streets, I've done prison, I've done all of that, and the only thing that's gotten me sober is the AA program and places like this and stories like hers," said Hess.

Stories of courage.

"It makes me feel comfortable that I can come out and speak, you know, being who I am, and not having to hide that," said Robert Lee, Jamestown.

Wanting change.

"Well, I was on drugs for 24 years, you know, what changed it. You know, it ruins my kids life, it ruins my life as a dad and stuff," said Lee.

Lee has been clean from meth after years of battling addiction. His turning point was jail.

Lee said, "It's good to be five months sober, and it's just a journey that I'm willing to go on."

Breaking down the stigma of addiction is on the top of the Recovery Reinvented list.

"We keep working at that. I think there's a role for the office of Recovery Reinvented trying to reduce the shame and stigma of the disease until it's gone," said Gov. Burgum.

Shame, some have seen firsthand.

Opening the conversation has been the programs mission.

"I think sometimes people are like, 'can we really eliminate the stigma,' but as Doug just talked about, Breast Cancer HIV AIDS, we have eliminated stigma," said Kathryn Burgum.

The office of Recovery Reinvented was created after an executive order made by Gov. Burgum.

The Burgums say they hope it stays around long after his term as governor because it's a health care crisis.

The governor and first lady also announced several initiatives.

A workplace recovery initiative to empower employers and HR departments with information and to create a recovery-friendly workplace.

Recovery Talk, which is a free and confidential line of trained peer supporters.

And a Families Strong program. Which aims to support and educate families impacted by substance disorders.

You can read more on those programs at recoveryreinvented.com