This month, the Center for Personal Development welcomes Amy Ponce of Chicago’s Hazelden rehabilitation services as our featured guest blogger. Amy writes about the stigma that is too often associated with rehabilitation and addiction treatment services:


If you dropped in on a group session for alcoholics and addicts, who do you think will be sitting
next to you?

Is it the man with the cardboard sign, track marks running up and down his arms standing –
always standing – at the intersection that you pass through on your way to work? Would the
single supermom be there – the one who sneaks some of her son’s Ritalin so she can bake 12
dozen cookies for her children’s bake sale after working a 10-hour day in the office, doing the
laundry, and clean the house? Is the lawyer there, the one who just made partner and has nothing
in the fridge at home other than an empty jar of pickles and some old take-out Chinese? How
about the anesthesiologist with the kind eyes whose voice calmed you so much before your
surgery? Did you know she got addicted to Lunesta in grad school, anxious to get some sleep
between her long hours studying and taking care of her two- and five-year-olds?

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Health care and legal professionals, stay-at-home moms, CEOs,
baggage handlers, graphic designers, students. Stigma keeps people from getting help, from
getting their lives back. The perceived stigma that no one will think you’re competent enough to
do your job, to coach the t-ball team.

The stigma that everyone will blame you – like you blame yourself – for your own weak will.
But as Gil Kerlikowske, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, so aptly put
it, “Drug addiction is not a moral failing on the part of the individual but a chronic disease of the
brain that can be treated. This is not my opinion or a political statement open to debate. It is a
clear and unequivocal fact borne out by decades of study and research, and it is a fact that neither
the government nor the public can ignore.”

It is a disease that lasts a lifetime, and lifelong recovery can begin when you enter substance abuse treatment.
Treatment doesn’t have to look like a methadone clinic, whose parking lot is littered with the
cigarette butts and old flyers. It can be a place like Hazelden in Chicago, located in the Gold
Coast neighborhood, whose facilities and staff are dedicated to treating you with dignity and

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation provides hope and healing to people affected by substance abuse.

Our intensive outpatient addiction treatment program works under the same principles as a
residential program and provides individualized focus within the program structure. Each client receives an individualized treatment plan as well as individualized continuing care recommendations. Throughout the treatment experience, clients actively participate in educational lectures, group therapy, individual counseling, Twelve Step meetings, spirituality work, and peer interaction. 

The Center for Personal Development also offers substance abuse counseling.

If you’ve dismissed treatment as not being for you, consider this: One lawyer in recovery said, “I haven’t been this excited about my life since I was 18.” Get your life back from addiction.

– Amy Ponce, Hazelden Chicago