By Chris Jones
The Norman Transcript
Photo by Chris Jones
Teresa Collado serves as executive director of NAIC, founded by Dick Virtue.
Misery and trouble bring people through the door of the red brick building on a quiet Norman street.
Hope and help await them on the other side.
Norman Addiction Information & Counseling (NAIC) founded by the Rev. Dick Virtue in 1972, provides comprehensive out-patient treatment services for alcoholism, drug addiction, problem and compulsive gambling and co-occurring mental health conditions.
“Father Virtue lived and breathed helping the alcoholic,” said Teresa Collado, executive director of NAIC. “He was driven by a passion, and open about his own recovery.”
The philosophy at NAIC is that addiction is an illness of body, spirit, mind and emotions, which if untreated is characterized by uncontrollable, compulsive use of alcohol and/or other mood-altering drugs or behaviors. Addiction is a family disease adversely affecting everyone in the family unit.
“Many families become sick themselves trying to help the addict and survive the chaos that addiction brings to their lives,” Collado said. “The reality is that most alcoholics and other addicts start using around 12 years of age.”
Collado, who has worked at NAIC for 14 years, said blame and shame will not help the addict. What will help is treatment and support groups for both the addict and the family.
There are many firsts for NAIC, including being the first agency in Oklahoma to offer treatment of alcoholism as a disease. Also the state’s first outpatient program for women, first in Oklahoma to offer a DUI school, and the establishment of the first structured treatment program in Oklahoma’s prison system.
Opening the door
A court, Department of Human Services, or parents of a teenager often require the first step for clients into the nonprofit, NAIC program.
“When people come through the door they aren’t happy to be here, even though they aren’t happy with their lives,” Collado said. “Anyone is welcome, and there are people who come in on their own because they want help. This is the minority.”
What happens next? Collado said an immediate assessment is made to determine the needs of the individual. There are many questions to learn what is going on in the client’s life. And there is a mental health screening. All are necessary steps for the counselor to recommend an individualized treatment plan with the input of the client.
The cost is based on the ability of the client to pay.
Treatment at NAIC is on an outpatient basis. There is a primary counselor, and therapy in a group setting. NAIC has 10 full-time counselors and four part-time counselors. There are 200 active clients at any given time, Collado said.
Presently there is a three-month waiting list for treatment, though an early recovery group is available immediately.
In the past fiscal year, NAIC assisted more than 17,000 people. NAIC provides classroom education, non-clinical counseling, crisis interventions and referrals.
“People’s lives fall apart in different ways,” Collado said. “They are in pain when they come here. Our counselors do a fabulous job. Just in a few weeks you can see the light come on in a person’s life. We help them set reasonable goals they can achieve.”
A client may say, “My goal is I don’t ever want to drink again.” The counselor then works with the client to achieve that goal. The next step is to identify and process three triggers for the addiction. And then three coping skills for dealing with the triggers.
One client who found help at NAIC, wrote, “I am able to accomplish the goals I set and I am not having the issues I used to have at work, My relationships are steadily improving. I’ve become a better person.”
There are many such stories from people of all ages and walks of life.
“This is a safe place,” Collado said. “We don’t judge people, and there is confidentiality.”
The first step is going through the door.
For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.