Our Intake Manager Katy Alexander was recently on the radio with Bruce Cook “Angels Radio Sunday Night” discussing COVID-19, addiction treatment, and the increase in substance use disorder rates as a result of this pandemic. So many families are struggling with the choice of leaving the house to seek treatment (which may feel unsafe) vs. living in active addiction at home. We believe the safest place for someone with alcoholism or drug dependence is addiction treatment. Katy shares an overview of the process when a woman or family member calls New Directions for Women to inquire about addiction treatment.
Bruce Cook: It’s Sunday Night Live here on AMA 30 Angels Radio. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Bruce Cook and we’re segueing our show tonight into another very serious subject during the time of Covid-19, and that is the subject of addiction and abuse as a result of addiction. Specifically we are targeting the problems with women suffering from abuse and addiction. Joining me now is a young woman named Katy Alexander who represents New Directions for Women, helping women all across Southern California that come to their residential treatment facility, which is nationally recognized, for solving problems where women have become addicted to alcohol and drugs with children, with family drama, with abuse.
Katy Alexander, who’s going to join us momentarily, is a first point of contact for people that call in. Sometimes their loved ones call in. Maybe it’s the husband or a parent or a close friend or it might even be a child. They call in. Katy takes that first call and she is the first step to guide them through a process to change their life. At this time, people, this is a really exacerbated problem. Alcohol sales have gone through the roof, 50 percent more than normal. Drugs are flowing more than normal and problems are getting worse. So joining me now, Katy Alexander, to get to the heart of it. Katy, are you there?
Katy Alexander: I am. Hi, Bruce. Good evening.
Bruce Cook: Good evening to you. How tough has it been the last couple months?
Katy Alexander: You know, it’s definitely been different. I think the social distancing, the stay-at-home orders, and the travel restrictions just left people feeling isolated, fearful, and unsure of what to do. We’ve definitely seen an increase in depression, anxiety, substance use disorder. We’ve had calls from people that have had some time sober that have relapsed and people that were in active addiction that has definitely gotten worse during this time. So we’re just trying our best to provide resources and let everybody know that we’re here. They’re not alone. We’re still here to help them.
Bruce Cook: Katy, how does it work? If somebody calls in that doesn’t know much about New Directions, what do they typically ask you and how do you handle that?
Katy Alexander: Well, first we try to get a situation of what’s going on in their life so that we can best guide them whether it’s at New Directions or another facility. We want to help them no matter what. So our goal is to first figure out what’s going on, and get a little bit of background information to see how we can best support them.
Bruce Cook: Are they willing to be candid with you at first or do you have to pull it out of them? That’s got to be really tough.
Katy Alexander: Yeah, we definitely have to build rapport and let them know that they’re safe with us. You know, some conversations can be long. Some can be short. Essentially if it’s the potential patient that’s seeking help and they’ve come to terms that they need help, so they’re a little bit easier to navigate through the process. But if it’s a family member, we find that we’ve got to utilize other resources sometimes like the help of an interventionist to help prepare the family to help their loved one and support them.
Bruce Cook: If someone calls in,either the person or a family member, and the situation seems desperate and dire to you, what resources do you have to reach out to get them face-to-face?
Katy Alexander: You know, we move pretty quick when it comes to those. I mean, obviously, if somebody called me and said, “I need to go to rehab right now,” I would jump in my car and go meet them. This is their life. We really do see it that way. This is their life at stake. People die every day from drug and alcohol use, so our goal is to help them immediately. So whatever that looks like, you know, if they’re in another state, then it makes more sense to refer them somewhere nearby. If they’re able to get on a plane and come down here, we help them through that whole process to make it happen quickly. With addiction, you don’t want to wait too long.
Bruce Cook: Describe the process once you’ve made the contact and talked to the person and they indicate they want to become involved. What are the next steps?
Katy Alexander: We would start with a prescreen, so basically we would get some background history, what’s going on, who the family supports are. But after the prescreen, we can schedule admission immediately. If that involves a flight, we pick them up from the airport, whether that’s LAX or John Wayne Airport.
Bruce Cook: Are a lot of your patients from far away or Southern California mostly or does it make any difference?
Katy Alexander: I don’t think it makes any difference. I would say that 80 percent are probably here, 20 percent are out of state. We are nationally recognized so we really do get patients from all over the country.
Bruce Cook: How do they hear about you? How do they know that you’re worthy of their time and their cure? How do they know that if they’re coming from far away?
Katy Alexander: We have a lot of care partners that we work very closely with and New Directions for Women has been around since 1977. We have an amazing reputation for helping women of all ages, women with children, and pregnant women. We kind of have a unique target. We specifically are women working with women, so I think we’ve just been around a long time and due to our reputation, we get a lot of care partner referrals, including interventionists and therapists that we work closely with.
Bruce Cook: You mentioned at the top of our talk together that the stress of being at home and confined these last couple of months, especially on women with children who might be experiencing financial problems, or relationship difficulty with being home with a husband where there’s not a cohesive unified relationship, how does that come into play in terms of the mental stress that leads to more addiction or the start of addiction or relapse and how can you help to alleviate that, if at all?
Katy Alexander: Mothers with children are really near and dear to my heart because I’m a mother. I’m a woman in recovery so I’ve been there. I love being be a part of New Directions for Women and able to help this specific type of woman because there are different barriers for the mother and we have a women and children’s program. So right now, I hear the challenges of mothers having a hard time because they’re home with their children and they may lack support, family support. So we’re able to allow them to bring their children with them so that they can access childcare. We’ve got an onsite daycare where the children get to spend the day in a daycare environment while the mother gets to receive the help that she deserves, so being able to eliminate that barrier is huge for moms.
Bruce Cook: That sounds like a major advantage. If the woman can bring her children, I would imagine a lot of places that’s not the case.
Katy Alexander: Right, right.
Bruce Cook: Would it be out of line if I asked you to share some of your own personal story of how you came from Point A to today? And if that is out of line, forgive me. Maybe you could share a story of someone that you’ve been dealing with in an anonymous way without, obviously, revealing their name of their personal tale because that helps people when they hear that.
Katy Alexander: I’m 15 years sober. I have five children. When I got sober, I had three, so for me to be able to help these women who may or may not see a way out right now really, like I said, speaks to my heart because I’ve been there. I know what it takes to get through it. I know that the guilt and shame that we carry as moms and to be able to support these women and just let them know that I mean I’m a sign of hope for them to be able to share parts of my story with them that might just save their life and their children’s.
Bruce Cook: What took you down to the bottom, Katy? What led you to that point?
Katy Alexander: Well, you know, in the end I didn’t have – my mom had my children in the end there. I had nothing left and I didn’t see a way out. I had this one opportunity to go to treatment and I took it and you know what? It was just the best decision that I ever made for my children, and for me. I didn’t really know that it could get better, but it did and I have an amazing life today because I did something that was really uncomfortable. I had to face myself and figure out how to get through addiction and get to the other side of it.
Bruce Cook: 15 years later you’re doing great and you’re paying it forward.
Katy Alexander: Yeah. Thanks for letting me share that, Bruce.
Bruce Cook: I really appreciate your doing that and I hope you’ll come back on because I’d like to talk to you some more. We’re out of time tonight on Angels Radio, but we hope more women will make that same move that you made as a last resort that really changed your life, and put you on the right road. There’s a lot of women that are in trouble and especially now.
Katy Alexander: Even if they just want to talk, Bruce, I’m willing to talk. If they want to call and just talk to someone, I’m here.
Bruce Cook: Well, what a gift that is.. She’ll get in the car and she’ll come to you if you need her. So, men, I got a lot of men that listen to this hour too. If your wife, your sister, your daughter, your mother, your friend is suffering, you pick up the phone and call New Directions and get help from Katy or someone there. Katy, what’s the number again?
Katy Alexander: It’s 800-93 WOMEN.
Bruce Cook: 800-93-WOMEN. I end my broadcast with that, ladies and gentlemen. Katy Alexander, it’s been an honor to have you on. Orange County, LA, Inland Empire, listeners to Angels Radio, have a safe week. Stay home if you can. Be safe, be healthy and come back again next Sunday night. It’s always my honor to speak to you on Angels Radio AMA 30, KLAA, Sunday nights at 6:00 PM.