Valeo discusses addiction, raises funds, and emphasizes recovery is possible

13 News at Six
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Valeo Behavioral Health wants to assure anyone suffering from addiction that hope is still possible.

Valeo hosted The Breakfast for Hope on Friday, May 5, at The Beacon. Funds from the event will go towards assisting the uninsured, underinsured, and anyone unsheltered who struggles with a mental illness.

The Breakfast for Hope event featured keynote speaker Mike Matson. Matson has been a Kansan for his entire life. He has had a career in communications for years on radio and TV news. Matson even worked for WIBW-TV from 1985 to 1994. He has been a newspaper columnist, a press secretary to a Kansas governor, and he became an author.

Matson wrote and published Courtesy Boy: A True Story of Addiction in 2021. The story of his real-life experience with alcoholism and how he overcame it.

“I wrote a book about my own experience and recovery from addiction,” said Matson. “My hope and goal were two-fold. I wanted to show some of the negative traits and behaviors that I exhibited as a young adult in the depths of my addiction. So, that can give people a chance to recognize some of these things, perhaps in loved ones, or perhaps in themselves, and take action. The other is to break down the stigma. There is still so much negative, difficult stigma associated with addiction and alcoholism. It is hard for people to talk about it.”

According to Matson, he started drinking alcohol at 16 years old and did not realize his addiction until a few years later.

“I had to experience a lot of loss,” said Matson. “There was the break-up of a marriage, there was the isolation of myself from my friends, and so, it finally got to the point where I realized that this was a life that could not be sustained if I was going to continue to try to find happiness. So, I took some action and went to rehab.”

The main goal Matson wants to convey to the public is that help is available for anyone in need while also hoping that one-day society can break away from the stigma typically associated with addiction.

“There is help, right,” said Matson. “There are systems that exist in every community in Kansas that do offer these sorts of services. The biggest challenge is awareness. You have to become aware that there might be a problem, reach out, and people are willing to help. I hope that people recognize that this does not have to be the kind of thing that you do not talk about. Stigma is huge. We need to get past the idea that addiction is a negative, moral failure. The more we talk about it — the more help people can get.”

Valeo Behavioral Health Care’s CEO, Bill Persinger, agreed that help is available for anyone searching for help.

“We just want people to know that if they are hurting,” said Persinger. “If they feel like their life is not going in the right direction, they can reach out. If there is a mental health problem in their life, if there is a mental illness, if there is a substance abuse disorder, if there is an addiction — that help is available locally. It is open to everybody, affordable, [and] it is there 24 hours a day. Getting help oftentimes is a matter of timing. You have to be there when people are ready. You have to follow through, and you have to be sincere and open with folks.”

Also, on the event agenda was awarding Dr. Alison Crow and Dennis Bosley the Top City Mental Health Advocate Award for advocating for improving the quality of life of others, providing access to mental health services, and reducing the stigma connected to addiction, mental illnesses, and or substance abuse.