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Thomas attends conference in NY

For Ennis native Anna Thomas recovering from her addictions has been a long and winding road that has allowed her to participate in what she calls some of the most amazing experiences she has ever had.
One of those experiences took place last week as she was asked to participate in a panel discussion held at Columbia University in New York regarding the issue of underage drinking and drug use. The panel discussion was one of many held during the CASA conference (The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University), which was held to try to find solutions to the epidemic of student addictions.
“It was an amazing experience,” Thomas said. “I took part in a panel and spoke about my past experiences with addiction to explain the student’s side of the issue while the rest of the panel was made up of doctors, deans of universities and researchers to provide the scholarly insight into the issues. I was honored to take part in such an important event and was pleased with the support the conference generated.”
The program Thomas spoke about, the Collegiate Recovery Community (CRC) is one she sought refuge in and now works for as she shares her personal experience with recovering students. Texas Tech University is only one of eight such programs in the nation and several years ago the program received grant funding to replicate its program in other colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin. With five such programs stemming from the Texas Tech model, Thomas says it is a big step because there is a misconception among colleges that any one with an addiction should not be accepted in higher education facilities.
“It is a difficult situation because schools don’t want addicts attending their colleges and college is a difficult place to stay for a person in recovery,” she said. “It makes sense for colleges to help support students in recovery because they are not stupid or bad people, they are just people who made bad choices and that need a little help finding their way. I think it all comes down to a lack of education and our program helps make people more aware of the issues."
Thomas is dedicated to her road of recovery and looks back on her struggle as a life changing event that allowed her the life she has today.
"Everyone has their own demons and if it wasn’t for my struggles, I wouldn’t be the person I am today," she said. “Addiction is a very bad thing but the most wonderful gift I’ve ever had. Without the struggles of my past and the recovery group I would not have this job, or the life I lead. It took me to hit the bottom before I could come back up to the top and experience the life I have now, so I am thankful for every experience that made me who I am."
Thomas credits her parents, Mayor Russell and Nancy Thomas for their support and for being there for her when she needed them most.
"Dealing with addiction is not an easy topic to discuss and not a comfortable topic," she said. "Looking at the past brings back bad memories but it meant a lot to me to have my parents there with me at the conference and I am thankful for all their support over the years."
Russell Thomas says he and his wife are blessed that Anna is well and doing what she can to help others.
"We are very blessed to have Anna’s health and her continued recovery, but most of all that she has committed herself to helping those students now in need."
For more information on the CASA conferences, visit www.casacolumbia.org.

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Posted by on Oct 29 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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