Weatherford Democrat

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May 5, 2013

Counseling the counselors

WC students discuss the needs of substance abuse counselors recovering from their own addictions

(Continued)

Zoe Loth discussed barriers to seeking help for the person in relapse that typically involve fears of embarrassment, guilt or losing their job.

A recovering alcoholic, Candice Airheart delivered a personal, emotional presentation, admitting her relapse four months ago and relating it to Terry Kettering’s poem, “The Elephant in the Room,” which was delivered in a video presentation to the panel and students.

“I was one of the elephants in the room,” Airheart said, fighting to choke down her emotions as she spoke. “I’ve been hungry, angry, lonely and tired. I was going to save the world. I was going to get everyone else help, and I nearly lost it myself.”

Focusing on employee assistance programs, Richard King spoke about his past substance abuse addictions and how they adversely impacted his life as far as family, relationships and jobs.

Then King opened up personally, saying this semester had been a very difficult one for him, “not academically, but personally.”

Not evident through his speech or demeanor, King said he has been battling depression and denial.

“I know how to be a good friend. I don’t know how to let them be a good friend to me,” he said.

Once married and with children, King then acknowledged he is gay and HIV positive. It was something that, while it might not have come as a surprise to many who know him, it was a revelation he has only recently began to discuss openly. Much like admitting one is an alcoholic or a drug abuser, revelations openly like King’s signal the beginning of a healing process and new starting point in life.

“I realized that you can’t really have a real relationship if people don’t know you,” King would say later of his admissions. “This absolutely was an eye-opening experience to realize I can trust people.”

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