Actor and comedian Tom Arnold keeps a photograph of himself at age 4 or 5 with him to remind him why he’s sober. “I look at that picture and I think, I love that guy,” he says. “And I go, well, that’s you. He deserves not to die today. He deserves not to be shamed by anybody and make the world a little better.”
After being molested by his babysitter as a boy, Arnold now sees the trauma it caused him even as an adult. That trauma led to addiction. After several attempts at recovery — first from alcohol and cocaine followed by 19 years of sobriety, then addiction to painkillers after he broke his back in a motorcycle accident, and then to Xanax (“benzos”) — Arnold dealt with his childhood trauma and has been sober for two-and-a-half years.
“If you really want to get sober, if you don’t deal with what’s bubbling underneath there, you will continuously relapse,” Arnold says. “You have to deal with it all.”
Arnold will share his story about addiction and recovery at The LCADA Way’s Pearls of Wisdom Annual Benefit and Recognition Dinner on Thursday, Oct. 24, at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake
The LCADA Way, which is the largest private nonprofit addiction services agency in Lorain, Medina and Erie counties and the surrounding communities, helps those dealing with drug, alcohol and gambling addiction. The annual gala creates awareness of addiction and raises funds to assist the nonprofit organization in its mission of recovery. Proceeds also help individuals who cannot afford help or do not have insurance to receive treatment.
LCADA staff are familiar with stories like Arnold’s. LCADA recently partnered with Case Western Reserve University to treat co-occurring disorders, which are addictions paired with mental health traumas. “About 80 percent of additive disorders also have trauma histories,” says LCADA President and CEO Thomas D. Stuber. “All LCADA staff are trauma informed, but now we want to be trauma care providers.”
Other programs LCADA has introduced include working with the Lorain County Jail to provide withdrawal medication and treatment services to addicted inmates. Those inmates then go on The LCADA Way for treatment after their release.
Stuber reports the jail sees as many as 140 inmates a month in detox. “Right now, the jail has been overrun with people in withdrawal,” he says. “But less than 20 a month had ever had treatment before.”
Additionally, LCADA Way received a five-year, $1.5 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant to care for pregnant and post-partum women at LCADA’s The Key, Women’s Center in Lorain, a residential substance abuse treatment center where women can bring their children during their stays.
“We just keep growing,” says Stuber. “Pearls of Wisdom supplements the care at The Key. It generally takes three months to a year before these programs start paying for themselves, and Pearls of Wisdom helps with that.”
Today, Arnold says he enjoys sharing his story in hopes it will help others struggling with the same trauma and addiction. He has two children, ages 6 and 4, who are his focus. “I love being a dad, and I love going around and talking about this stuff,” he says. “I get to drive my kids to school every day, I talk about the people who come in and out of my life, and I am grateful. This is the best life. I like making the world a little better and having opportunities to support the people who come to organizations like LCADA Way.”
This year’s program includes live and silent auctions and will honor award recipients Dr. Florencio and Lily Yuzon and Rob and Katarina Levit of Levit Jewelers. Master of ceremonies is Hollie Strano of WKYC-TV.
Tickets are $115. For tickets or table sponsorships to the event, visit lcada.ticket.qtego.net.