MARQUETTE — According to one professional, the stigma for getting treatment for mental or behavioral health disorders is going down, but is still a sensitive process. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac has more on one local’s recovery from addiction and the first steps to start, in the first installment of a two–part series.

According to a local official, behavioral health is synonymous with mental health.

Great Lakes Recovery Therapist, Paul Olsen says, “A lot of mental health issues are medical diseases, they’re medical imbalances, that a person can choose to control through their choices and through their behavior.”

Olsen says it’s the same idea with heart disease and diabetes, for example, the conditions are still diseases and in most cases people can make healthier choices to control them.

According to state reports, the rate for alcohol consumption, heavy drinking and binge drinking in Marquette County are higher than the state average, but only by a point or two. Even though the percentage is not significantly different than the state’s average, the issue is still significant in the community.

Face and Voice of Recovery, Bob Swanson says, “One active alcoholic negatively affects the lives of nine people significantly, and 16 people less significantly – and of course the most significant people that are affected are the ones who are closest to the alcoholic, which is usually family.”

Bob Swanson has been in long–term recovery from an alcohol addiction for 27 years. He first realized he may need to go for an assessment when he saw the way it was affecting his children. He says he wanted to get involved in a Concerned Persons Group at Marquette General Hospital, but to do that he would have to participate in a substance abuse assessment. After the assessment his councilor told him that he had a substance abuse problem–specifically alcoholism.

“I stared to cry,” Swanson says, “because that was the last thing I wanted to be, was be an alcoholic.”

Swanson says there is hope for recovery for anyone, and offers this advice.

“Face your fear, there’s fear involved with realizing that there’s a drinking problem,” Swanson says, “If you face your fear then you can come to understand that there is something that you can do about it.”

There are several outlets, options and sources available, like Great Lakes Recovery Centers.

Olsen says, “For the last several decades Great Lakes Recovery Centers has helped people face addiction issues across the Upper Peninsula.”

For more information on Great lakes Recovery Centers and other sources to find help for family, friends and individuals facing substance abuse or other behavioral disorders refer to the links below.

For Great Lakes Recovery Center click here.

For Alcoholics Anonymous of Marquette County click here.

For UP Health Systems – Behavioral Health click here.

For Pathways Community Mental Health click here.