New Substance Abuse Prevention Campaign Focuses on Alcoholism

Gateway Foundation Drug Treatment Supports Alcohol Awareness Month in April

alcoholismMore individuals than the entire population of Illinois, or 14 million American adults, meet the criteria for alcohol abuse or alcohol dependency, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Furthermore, nine out of 10 individuals with alcoholism won’t seek the treatment they need for substance abuse.

To address this public health concern, Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment is joining the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to raise awareness of alcohol-related issues during Alcohol Awareness Month in April. In an effort to change behaviors and attitudes towards alcohol abuse, Gateway Foundation is launching a campaign that heightens awareness of low-risk drinking guidelines in comparison to risky or binge drinking that could lead to alcoholism.

“In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we are reaching out to communities throughout Illinois with substance abuse awareness resources, like magnets, window clings and educational materials. Our goal is for adults to understand what constitutes as risky drinking and if needed, that professional help is available,” says Gateway Foundation President and CEO Michael Darcy. “We encourage local businesses, schools, public sector organizations and healthcare providers throughout Illinois to take advantage of these tools and support the efforts addressing alcoholism.”

Moderate versus Binge Drinking

To minimize health risks caused by alcohol, the USDA guidelines for moderate drinking are:

  • Up to one drink per day for women
  • Up to two drinks per day for men.

Many health risks, including alcohol dependency, are associated with drinking in excess or binge drinking. Today, the generally accepted definition of binge drinking in America for women is drinking four or more drinks in a row at least once in the previous 2 weeks. For men, consuming five or more drinks in a row at least once in the previous 2 weeks is considered binge drinking. Heavy binge drinking includes three or more such episodes in 2 weeks.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Because alcoholism is a disease, most alcoholics can’t just “exercise some willpower” to stop drinking. Alcoholics are frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water. Yet, with treatment and support, many are able to stop drinking, reclaim their lives and reconnect with loved ones.

Alcoholism entails the following symptoms:

  • Craving – A strong need or urge to drink.
  • Loss of Control – Unable to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
  • Physical Dependency – Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety after drinking stops.
  • Tolerance – The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get intended “high.”

Concerned that drinking or drug abuse may be a problem? Gateway provides free in-depth consultations to help determine the severity of substance abuse and identify the appropriate level of treatment. To learn more about Gateway Foundation’s free and confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

To request Alcohol Awareness Month awareness materials, please email Gateway at For more information about the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, please visit

Lake Villa Drug Treatment Center Welcomes New Director

Lake Villa Drug Treatment

Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment, the largest provider of substance abuse treatment in Illinois, recently welcomed Patricia Ryding, Psy.D., as the Executive Director for its Lake Villa substance abuse treatment center. With more than 30 years of experience in the fields of mental health and drug addiction treatment, Dr. Ryding comes to Gateway Foundation from CRC Health Group’s Sierra Tucson where she was previously the Executive Director.

As Executive Director, Dr. Ryding works to ensure that the quality care and evidence-based programs at the Lake Villa center are continuously improving so adults, teens and young men have access to affordable, individualized substance abuse treatment and aftercare for lasting recovery. Along with managing a multi-million dollar renovation to the Lake Villa center, Dr. Ryding is recruiting talented substance abuse professionals, including new Admissions Supervisor Sara Kozak, who comes to Gateway Foundation from Centegra Health Systems.

“I appreciate how Gateway Foundation uses an integrated approach, combining mental health care and substance abuse treatment to help individuals understand what caused their addiction and then develop coping skills to manage stress and triggers in a healthy way,” says Dr. Ryding.

Dr. Ryding holds a BA from Boston University as well as a MA in Counseling Psychology from Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. She also holds a Doctorate in Psychology from Carlos Albizu University in Miami, FL.

Located approximately 50 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, IL, Gateway Foundation Lake Villa is situated on a beautiful 43-acre campus on the shores of the Fox Lake. For more information about alcohol and drug abuse treatment for adults and adolescents at the Lake Villa center, please visit

Stay Informed About Substance Abuse and Addiction

substance abuse, drug useDon’t stay in the dark about drinking and drugs—the more you understand about the facts, the greater your understanding will be about what someone’s going through, and how he or she can overcome it.

If you’re not sure what kind of drug an individual is using, or whether one has an addiction, education will help you recognize certain behavior patterns or health issues an individual may have that are associated with different types of substances and addictions.

Determine If You Are Safe

Sometimes people can behave unpredictably when they drink or take drugs. Their moods and actions can become erratic, which at best can be embarrassing or frustrating for friends and family, but at worst can become aggressive or violent. You have the right to put your safety and the well-being of your family first.

If you’re living with a person whose substance abuse or addiction behavior puts your safety at risk, consider having a back-up plan. That plan may include arranging with family or friends to stay with them, or knowing where you can go in your community if an emergency arises.

Talking to Someone Who Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol

Perhaps you feel upset, angry, frustrated or even ashamed about someone’s problem. Whatever you’re going through, it’s okay to feel the way you do. What’s more, it’s often worth talking to the person about your feelings –being honest may even encourage one to open up to you about underlying emotions, too. When you talk with someone about drinking and drug use, listen and respect what he or she has to say. It may also help the individual to face up to the problem. If someone shuts you down initially, it may be more difficult to get him or her to open up later. Just listen.

Substance Abuse is a Disease

It is important to realize that substance abuse is a disease. The person who is truly addicted is not able to take control of this problem without professional help. As a loved one, you cannot stop the individual’s substance abuse. Families can, however, avoid covering it up or doing things that make it easy for the person to continue the denial. Encourage your family member or friend to get the treatment needed through a professional licensed treatment provider or family physician.

A History of Addiction asks Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment: Should moms should bury the past and never look back—especially when addiction is in the rearview mirror—or, is there a better course of action?

A unique challenge

Overcoming addiction is a process with no defined end. As a mother works through this process, she faces unique parenting challenges.

“Mothers with a history of addiction may find it hard to act as role models for their adolescent children,” says Tatiana Sporea, substance abuse and family program counselor at Gateway Foundation Chicago West. “Women with younger kids can be emotionally unavailable for their children when they are dealing with mental health issues, trauma, grief or abuse.”

Still, the responsibilities of parenting do not ease just because of a burden we may carry.

To learn ways to contend with a history of addiction, read the entire story at

Gateway Springfield Takes Polar Plunge

Gateway Foundation Springfield Polar Plunge

Front (kneeling): Tammy Kmett
Front row (l to r): Lisa Kelber, Heather West, Mercedes Kent, Brittany Thomas-Ottino, Hayle Wendling, Amie Woods, Clairice Kiley, Amanda Leasman and George Campbell.
Back row (l to r): Chris Greenhalge, Jan Ruby, Jo Paul Jones, Tyrone Wilkins, Steve Vaughn, Rhonda Taylor, Dyanna Behrends, Thomas Sipes and Maddie McGuire.

The team of substance abuse counselors and professionals at Gateway Foundation Springfield joined together to support a special cause on Feb. 23, 2013, taking the Polar Plunge into Lake Springfield to raise $1,946 for the Special Olympics of Sangamon, Menard, Macoupin and Morgan counties.

“When our Clinical Psychologist and Program Director Dr. Brittany Thomas-Ottino announced that she would take the plunge if 15 others would join her, everything snowballed from there,” explains Gateway Foundation Administrative Assistant and Polar Plunge participant Tammy Kmett. “We rallied together a19-member team, and our Executive Director Kerry Henry was generous enough to donate team t-shirts.”

The chilly, 30-degree morning began with the Springfield Fire Department breaking ice from portions of the lake in order for the plunge to take place. All 19 members of the team did indeed take the plunge for Special Olympics, and many are eager to do it all over again next year.

“While the temperatures were freezing and there was ice floating all around us, we had an experience that we will most definitely talk about for days to come,” says Ms. Kmett.

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