Third Annual State of Addiction Forum Focuses on Women in Recovery

By JACQUELINE PRIMO | Assistant Managing Editor

An audience of clinicians and women in recovery gathered at CLARE Foundation in Santa Monica—an LA-based nonprofit that provides treatment, recovery and prevention services for alcoholism and substance abuse—on Friday, Feb. 26 for the Third Annual State of Addiction: Women in Recovery forum.

Also in attendance, and seated prominently in the front row, was Palisadian Dorothy Richards, herself a woman in recovery for 40 years and namesake of the Dorothy Richards Fund for Women’s Recovery at CLARE.

Palisadian Dorothy Richards speaks at a Women in Recovery forum on Feb. 26. Photo courtesy of the CLARE Foundation
Palisadian Dorothy Richards speaks at a Women in Recovery forum on Feb. 26. Photo courtesy of the CLARE Foundation

Richards has been on the board of the CLARE Foundation since 1989 and is chair of the Major Gifts Committee.

“I thought the panel was dynamic and educational, and was one avenue to help families understand the torment of the substance abuser.

“When recovery takes place, everyone wins—the family, community, health care system and, of course, the recovery person,” Richards told the Palisadian-Post.

“Those in attendance heard statistics, but also learned about resources to help those who need assistance. I love this type of forum and look forward to CLARE’s participation in hosting future events,” Richards said.

As the audience munched on sandwiches and cookies and sipped coffee, moderator Laurel Rosen, President and CEO of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the crowd.

“Addiction looms as one of the most serious health issues affecting America today,” Rosen said. “We are here today to spotlight advances that can be, and have been made in recovery for women.”

Keynote speaker Christine Grella, Medical Advisor to CLARE and UCLA Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, gave a presentation highlighting the advances in society’s understanding of women in recovery.

Grella said shockingly that about 6 percent of women and girls in the U.S. over the age of 12 need treatment for alcohol or drug problems, while 85 percent of those women and girls feel no need for treatment.

Grella said that in 2012 only 11 percent of them actually received treatment, and still 4.5 percent felt they needed treatment but did not get it.

Compared to men, women tend to have more severe substance abuse problems at the time of treatment admission and experience a more rapid progression from initiation of use to dependence on the substance to treatment for substance abuse, Grella explained.

Still, only a third of national treatment facilities provides special services or programs for women, she added.

The CLARE Foundation is one such program.

Panelists at the State of Addiction forum included Nancy Richards Chand, attorney for the LA County Public Defender’s Office for 29 years.

Chand has participated in the creation of treatment collaborations including the Second Chance Women’s RE-Entry Court, which provides intensive treatment for women otherwise ineligible for any other treatment program or Drug Court.

Also serving on the panel were Sarah Hepola, author of The New York Times bestselling memoir “Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget,” and April Wilson, who said she got involved in the field of recovery due to her own personal challenges with addiction at the age of 22 while she was pregnant.

Wilson is the Vice President of Integration at Prototypes treatment facility and currently works to ensure their high-quality integrated services.

“The ‘recovery story’ is really the universal story,” Hepola said during her emotional presentation, in which she opened up to the audience about her struggles with alcoholism before quitting at the age of 35.

“Sobriety is really a new beginning.”

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