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February 17, 2013

Offering help and hope

NORMAN —

Photo by Chris Jones

Teresa Collado serves as executive director of NAIC, founded by Dick Virtue.

Misery and trouble bring people through the door of the red brick building on a quiet Norman street.

Hope and help await them on the other side.

Norman Addiction Information & Counseling (NAIC) founded by the Rev. Dick Virtue in 1972, provides comprehensive out-patient treatment services for alcoholism, drug addiction, problem and compulsive gambling and co-occurring mental health conditions.

“Father Virtue lived and breathed helping the alcoholic,” said Teresa Collado, executive director of NAIC. “He was driven by a passion, and open about his own recovery.”

The philosophy at NAIC is that addiction is an illness of body, spirit, mind and emotions, which if untreated is characterized by uncontrollable, compulsive use of alcohol and/or other mood-altering drugs or behaviors. Addiction is a family disease adversely affecting everyone in the family unit.

“Many families become sick themselves trying to help the addict and survive the chaos that addiction brings to their lives,” Collado said. “The reality is that most alcoholics and other addicts start using around 12 years of age.”

Collado, who has worked at NAIC for 14 years, said blame and shame will not help the addict. What will help is treatment and support groups for both the addict and the family.

There are many firsts for NAIC, including being the first agency in Oklahoma to offer treatment of alcoholism as a disease. Also the state’s first outpatient program for women, first in Oklahoma to offer a DUI school, and the establishment of the first structured treatment program in Oklahoma’s prison system.

Opening the door

A court, Department of Human Services, or parents of a teenager often require the first step for clients into the nonprofit, NAIC program.

“When people come through the door they aren’t happy to be here, even though they aren’t happy with their lives,” Collado said. “Anyone is welcome, and there are people who come in on their own because they want help. This is the minority.”

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