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Eliminating Stigma: The First Lady of North Dakota Speaks Out

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Hello and welcome to. Let's talk a series of award winning podcast produced in brought to you by the Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation. Each podcast focuses on a topic related to addiction to alcohol and other drugs from prevention research treatment current events trends advocacy and of course recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. I'm your host William Warriors and today our topic is personal stories public advocacy. I can't think of anyone who best represents this in our guest Catherine Burgum. Welcome Catherine thank you so much for having me here today. Well and as we as we are here at the Ford Center in February of Twenty Twenty. I want just recognize this moment. By giving you a medallion because yesterday was a big day for you. This is so cool. Thank you so much. How many numbers? So this is my eighteen. Sit My year eighteen of sobriety so my eighteenth sobriety birthday today yesterday. Actually so thank you. So much for this amazing medallion. I'm so grateful and that's thoughtful of you. Who team years ago. What what what. What was your bottom eighteen years ago. My bottom was you know not being able to look at myself in the Mirror. Complete loss of of self respect And I you know Decided I needed to make a change and And I was able to do that. Eighteen years ago and walk this path of recovery sobriety. I'm so grateful. How did you know that you have a problem? What what was that moment? That said I'm not doing this the right way. Well I could achieve almost any goal. I'd set for myself in my life but I could not stop drinking. You know no matter how many drunk episodes I would have or struggles or you know mornings Hong over I just. I just not stop drinking. And so that's how I knew. I knew I needed help. And I knew I needed to really make a change in my life And did you seek treatment or just walk into a recovery path? I went down a record both actually I. I did go to treatment but I also Went down the recovery path and found like minded people that I could take this journey with. And you've been on that journey for a long time but one of the fascinating dynamics of your recovery journey which. I'm sure you hadn't really anticipated back when you started at eighteen years ago. Was that Five years ago or so. Your husband was elected. The Governor of North Dakota. That's right that makes you diverse lady of North Dakota the First Lady of North Dakota and so there you are suddenly very public persona in the state of North Dakota and not long after that nationally but very quickly Catherine you recognize the unique opportunity you had to have the public platform and a personal experience and to combine that personal story with public advocacy. Talk about that for our audience. Well early on in my time as first lady Spent time trying to decide you know what would I do? What could I be really passionate about and you know? It didn't take me long like a hot second to decide you. You know because of my own recovery. I you know this was the path I needed to go down especially related to eliminating the stigma of addiction. And you know what I heard you speak a few months before that and you said the best way to eliminate the stigma of addiction is to just talk about very simple solution and I basically took up that idea and made it part of my platform. And that's what I'm doing and so early in my time first lady. I did an interview with the newspaper and You know they just wanted to get to know the first lady and five minutes for the interview. I told my husband. I was going to talk about my recovery which I had not done really publicly for fifteen years at that point. And how did that go that day? When you sat down with the reporter and really revealed the essence of who you are How did that go? It was a huge weight. Lifted off my shoulders. Yes you know because I have a disease you know I figured out. I have a brain disease and I shouldn't have to carry this burden on my shoulders of keeping keeping silent about it. You know but the stigma is what kept me there for most of my recovery and kept me from seeking treatment And getting help for over twenty years so It was such a huge relief to really be able to talk about it and You know my husband was super supportive. Rooney Talk Oh yeah. He's he's very supportive and he believes that the more we talk about it to more. We're able to eliminate the

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