Mothers Against Methamphetamine Executive Director Claudia Kays is one of 20 Missourians selected to attend the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally hosted on Oct. 4 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Kays was selected by Missouri Recovery Network (MRN) Executive Director Brenda Schell. MRN gives a voice, across the state, for recovering addicts and is also an organizing partner for the UNITE Rally. According to a release provided by Schell, the rally will signify “The Day the Silence Ends” for American homes, where one in three are impacted by addiction. Missouri will be represented by 100 participants.
“Brenda, the executive director, she was just talking with me one day and she said ‘you need to go to this,’” Kays said. “She said they thought they would have some scholarship money, so that’s how it started and it went on from there.”
Kays, who is a member of MRN, will fly out Oct. 3 and will return Oct. 5.
MRN and the UNITE Rally addresses the endless cycle of incarceration for addicts and how solving deeper, often mental issues, may break the cycle. Information provided by MRN states that the agency, a grassroots advocacy organization, works to improve community and public understanding of addiction and recovery; looks at improving access to recovery services; works to reduce the stigma of addiction and also to eliminate barriers to recovery plus they strive to develop recovery resources.
“We are trying to raise awareness that addiction is a disease,” Kays said. “To end the silence throughout our communities and throughout the U.S. These people need services, if we can get them the right services recovery is possible; it does happen.”
The event will help locally, since it will give Kays the opportunity to interact with others in the same field.
“What it means to me is, in our community just being able to try and provide resources, like with my clients I’m working with now,” she said.
The event will also provide a variety of speakers who have been affected by addiction.
“There’s going to be quite a few speakers who have been in recovery,” Kays said. “I’ll get a lot of knowledge from them — what helped them, what didn’t help them …”
Kays said providing resources for services such as employment opportunities, health care, educational classes and mental health services, brings hope to the recovering addict and it ups the percentage that they won’t return to substance abuse once they are clean.
Information provided by Kays from UNITE to Face Addiction states that 22 million Americans live with addiction and 85 million people are affected and impacted by those addictions. Instead of the repetition of incarceration, the root of addiction needs to be addressed and brought to the forefront.
“That is something I’ve stood for, for a long time,” she added.
Kays’ son Kyle Durham, once a meth addict, has been clean for almost two years. She gives credit to his success because of the recovery help he received.
“That’s one thing I saw with my son, he was incarcerated and he got out, and relapsed again after six months,” she noted.
She added that she knew he had to be willing to change first, but recovery resources aided in the change.
“But a portion of it was the services that he finally received,” she said. “The counseling, the in-patient treatment, going to the clean and sober house.”
Kays added that MAMa has recently partnered with 16 honor students from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg who are helping the organization reformat its literature. The students recently presented her with a gift card for $310 to help with expenses for the trip.
“It about made me cry,” she added.
During the UNITE Rally, performances will be given by Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh, Jason Isbell, The Fray, John Rzeznik, the Goo Goo Dolls and others. For more information, visit www.morecovery.org or FacingAddiction.org or call MAMa at 202-9619.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 826-1000 ext. 1481 or @flbemiss.