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Going Public: Ryan Essex At The Gibson Recovery Center Discusses Treatment Programs

Ryan Essex / Gibson Recovery Center of Cape Girardeau

At the August 16th city council meeting, The Gibson Recovery Center of Cape Girardeau was  awarded a proclamation by Mayor Bob Fox, designating September 2021 ‘Recovery Month’.

The designation’s intention is to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support for those in need facing mental and substance abuse disorders.

Mayor Fox explained that for many, recovery is an essential part of living healthy lifestyles both physically and emotionally, and that in the southeast area, hopefully with designations like these, individuals will no longer need to struggle in silence. 

Credit Ryan Essex / The Gibson Recovery Center of Cape Girardeau

  The Gibson Recovery center specializes in mental and substance abuse recovery. 

Ryan Essex, chief operating officer at the Gibson Recovery Center of Cape Girardeau explained the recognition of local legislative figures supporting proclamations like these are effective in normalizing, and educating the community on difficult subject matters.   

“It means that our city government is recognizing that there are problems, but there are also solutions, and there are those that do recover and can be models to those who are still struggling and do want to recover,” said Gibson. “First and foremost, for me it's just the support of our community joining with us and recognizing that people do recover from this disease, and that we're here to help.”

The Gibson Recovery Center offers various recovery programs and counseling services for those struggling with mental disorders like depression anxiety, and substance abuse disorders like addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

However, Essex explains those struggling do not always fit in a box when it comes to their recovery process.

“The term recovery--, there is a Webster definition, but what we're talking about is in someone who has struggled at some point in time in their life, and who has either participated in some type of treatment which we offer, or some self help program or through maybe a faith community, to overcome that particular issue with substance, and is living a life now free of that substance, and living a healthy lifestyle.”

Essex added that the goals in recovery, or the idea of being ‘recovered’ are not linear. 

“In recovery we allow each person to define what recovery may be for them, so for one person it might be complete and total abstinence for the rest of their life, or another person may come to us and say, my goal is to not drink as often,” said Essex. “So, success is really defined by the individual. And we try to, as much as possible, stay away from trying to define success or failure rate, we like to let that be defined through the treatment process.”

Essex explained that the treatment in recovery is also specific to each individual seeking care. 

“We offer as intensive a program as medical detoxification where someone stays with us and we are staffing that 24 hours a day, we provide residential services where someone might stay with us for two or three weeks and receive counseling therapy services, as well as outpatient services where someone may just come in once a week to talk with the counselor,” said Essex.

Essex mentioned that the recovery process is also as much of a change in lifestyle as it is a mentality, and fully recovering can involve other outside aid.

“In addition we have a lot of other services that we can help them out with--, helping them find stable housing, helping them find good employment, helping them obtain insurance or Medicaid services, whatever it may be.

Additional awareness was brought to the subject of recovery when Governor Mike Parson signed a prescription drug monitoring program into law in July. 

“We were strong advocates for it to happen--, having a fully functioning statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program allows physicians to monitor more closely what medications their patient may be on in order to alleviate some of the doctor shopping that was happening to you before. A person who has been abusing prescription medications could go to three or four doctors in town, and if they are not all part of the same database, they can see what prescriptions have been filled,” said Essex. “That person may be able to get the same prescription from four different doctors and either abuse them themselves or sell them on the street illegally. We're huge advocates for prescription drug monitoring.”

In addition to recent legislation and other local designations Essex said he hopes this proclamation gives the people of Cape Girardeau hope. 

“I just hope it means that people recognize substance abuse is real, and I believe people already realized that, but more than anything, it reveals to people that you can recover from it and you can live a very successful life,” said Essex. “We've got many staff members of ours who are in recovery themselves and they’ve been living very productive and very successful lives for a very long time.”

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