Substance abuse in rural areas addressed at public event

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MACOMB (WGEM) - About 120 people gathered at the Spoon River College Outreach Center today for an annual issue-focused event held. The focus, which was supposed to happen in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic, was addressing substance abuse in rural areas, where often fewer treatment resources are available.

The event featured keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout rooms and booths offering local resources.

“We started these community conferences about five years ago,” said the Regional Office of Education 23′s Social Emotional Coordinator Kate Mallory. ”We’ve had multiple topics that are important to our community. First conference was food and security. Second conference was trauma-informed care, third was mental health in rural areas. "

Tim Ryan, a drug addiction activist and author of bestselling book “From Dope to Hope,” spoke about his recovery journey at today’s event and also issues faced today.

“Every rural area in the United States of America should be doing this,” Ryan said. “Because, we have a pandemic, right here in our backyard. We have a crystal methamphetamines. We have an opioid pandemic. We have a mental health crisis going on.”

Ryan spoke about his struggle with a heroin and alcohol addiction for 30 years. And, after spending 13 months in prison for a seven year sentence he made an oath to sobriety.

“My turning point was having a judge slam a gavel and say seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. But, I needed to go to prison,” Ryan said.

Ryan also visited Hancock County schools earlier this week and spoke to high school students.

“These kids are struggling,” Ryan said. “Depression, thinking of suicide, we need more resources but we need to talk about it. People need HOPE. People need purpose and connection and it ain’t just someone to believe in them. I believe in you, you believe in me, we do this together.”

Attendants said this event was an important to address since many Tri-State areas are lacking in resources.

Letha Michelle Dennison, an attendant, shared her journey with her peers in a panel discussion.

“I was what everybody considered to be a lost cause,” Dennison said. “And now I work in a recovery setting helping people as a peer.”

ROE #26 was one of several organizations that helped spearhead this event. Mallory said they’re working to build more substance abuse and mental health programs in their backyard since one of the issues with rural addiction is having resources so far away.

Resources at the event included the WCIL Area Health Education Center which offers free support.

Other Tri-State recovery resources include:


Preferred Family Healthcare – Recovery Resources

428 South 36th Street Quincy


Hopewell Clinical

314 North 6th Street Quincy


Addicts Victorious

639 York Street Suite 210 Quincy



900 South Deer Road Macomb


Western Illinois University – AOD Resource Center

1 University Circle Seal Hall 208 Macomb


North Central Behavioral Health Systems

301 East Jefferson street Macomb



Preferred Family Healthcare – Recovery Resources

4355 Paris Gravel Rd Hannibal


Turning Point Recovery Centers

146 Communications Drive Hannibal



Alcohol and Drug Dependency Services – ADDS

928 Main Street Keokuk


You can also call the national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP if you or someone you know needs help with addiction.

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