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Employee Spotlight – Executive Director Arizona

4 minute read

Employee Spotlight Series is back with more of Footprints to Recovery’s Rockstars!

Beyond our degrees and titles, we’re also real humans endlessly passionate about the fight for those struggling with addiction. Our DreamTeam is made up of many hard working talented individuals with interesting stories to tell. In our Employee Spotlight series, you’ll meet some of these people, learn what they do (on and perhaps off the clock), and how they keep Footprints to Recovery growing and flowing — just the way we like it.

This month’s Employee Spotlight Series features Becky Kartagener, LMSW – Executive Director of Footprints to Recovery’s brand new, state of the art drug and alcohol medical detox facility in Mesa, Arizona. 

What does Arizona’s drug and alcohol problem look like?

Arizona’s drug and alcohol problem can look overwhelming at times, like much of the country. However, when a company like, Footprints to Recovery, decides to call AZ home, it allows me to see the big picture with more hope.  Being a part of such a strong, ethical, treatment savvy team allows me to look at Arizona’s current drug and alcohol problem and know there are better days ahead!


In your opinion, what do you think individuals biggest barrier to treatment is?

There are several factors that seem to be influencing why people do not get the treatment they need. One is that when an opiate is prescribed by a doctor and a person becomes physically dependent on it (after only 2 weeks in many cases), they do not see that as a problem that needs to be addressed in treatment. They have a different mindset about their use of opiates because of how it originated, many times with legitimate pain. At times these people may be put into treatment by loved ones after years of consistent use that has increased due to tolerance. In treatment they may have an entitled disposition to being there because they do not see themselves as “the same” as others in treatment who have used illegal substances. Due to this mindset, the person who started out using legal prescriptions will have a more difficult time addressing the treatment challenges that are being offered to them and often walk out of their treatment environment.

Other barriers include the shame spiral a person with addiction feels due to the difficulty with quitting or getting sober. It was thought the addict was being stubborn, entitled, or without remorse for the negative behaviors that went along with this type of addiction such as stealing from others or panhandling.  In fact, it took years for the substance abuse community to recognize the underestimation of the severe cravings it seemed no person was able to combat. Additionally, with a predisposition to addiction in a person’s genetics, or with a history of trauma, it was nearly impossible to overcome the cravings.

Years later, due to the epidemic of overdose deaths, substance abuse organizations were forced to look for solutions and detox followed by Medication Assisted Treatment became the leader in that solution. The shame for many people inflicted with this is still there, however, because they are often not aware of the information regarding how they had been previously mistreated and the malpractice involved with accusing them of not having the motivation to get sober in the past. Also, their families are not aware of current research and continue to shame them for their difficulty overcoming addiction. The shame spiral involves feeling shame, and then using substances to numb the feelings, and then feeling shame for using. Because the cravings are so intense, any amount of shame feelings can trigger a relapse.

Why is detox important for so many individuals? 

It is difficult for a person to get through this time on their own, and getting this in a treatment facility is ideal to help them stay motivated in a therapeutic environment, engaged in services offered and receive comfort medications from a medical staff. Often people end up in the emergency room or worse,  when they attempt to detox on their own.

What message do you wish you could provide family, friends or addicts around the world?

Addiction is not a moral issue. A person does not have a weakness in their character if they have struggled with addiction or struggled with getting sober or staying sober. Opioids are the most addictive ingredients we have ever known and people who have not become dependent on them often highly underestimate the intensity and severity of the cravings. We are all affected by this epidemic in many ways either by our own addiction, the addiction of a family member, or the ways that society has been impacted by this crisis. We should all become aware and work together on solutions that work.  There should be no shame, only solutions.

To learn more about Footprints to Recovery’s drug and alcohol medical detox facility click here.

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