About Unmasked: Recovery and Redemption

Rodney Tackett, a recovering addict for 20 years, says today’s area faith-based recovery programs are the strongest he’s ever seen them. He’s one of dozens of people Ball State University students, participating in the 2018-19 Unmasked immersive learning class spoke to.

Students found there are several 12-step meetings, support groups and faith-based programs available. In fact, they are common in this community. But there are far fewer medical-based, in-patient and outpatient treatment alternatives as government and community-based health care providers come to terms with the worst drug crisis in the nation’s history.

“Any treatment is great, of course, if we can stop the bleeding,” Tackett said. “But we need something more than just being focused on: ‘Let’s keep this person from killing themselves.’” Tackett said the challenge is “not just harm reduction, but creating a life worth living.”

In 2016-17, a class of Ball State students examined the use of meth in Delaware County. The result was www.stigmaunmasked.com, a website with original content that included a 30-minute, made-for-public-television documentary and a 40-page magazine.

In the 2019, students revisited the topic through the lens of recovery updating the website and producing a new magazine. Funded by a Ball Brothers Foundation Rapid Grant students from the Department of Journalism examine what has changed for Brian and Rhea Graham, who were featured in the project’s original documentary and magazine, and role the local faith communities have in addiction recovery.

In this issue, we hear from addicts in search of recovery, and the obstacles they face, including funding for residential treatment. The Grahams, who frequent speakers at Narcotics Anonymous meetings and often travel to regional and national NA conventions, discuss how they have stayed clean and what it meant to alter their circle of influence.

We also examine relapse as a part of recovery, and the effect drug addiction has on families and communities.

The Ball Brothers Foundation, the underwriter for this report, wanted to raise awareness about the issue and shine a light on the work being done. Ball Brothers has funded another student-led project to rehab a meth house and awarded grants to buy protective gear for first responders.

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