Houston Sports Legends in Recovery

The word is out – our speaker series will return in-person with Houston Astro and Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell as the keynote speaker at our 2021 Fall Luncheon on October 15, 2021. Along with Craig Biggio, Derek Bell and Lance Berkman, Bagwell was part of the “Killer B’s”, the core lineup for the Astros in the late 90s and early 2000s. During his run, the Astros qualified for the playoffs six times, culminating in a World Series appearance in 2005! Despite his success, Bagwell struggled with addiction, reminding us that this disease can affect anyone – even our hometown heroes. Here are three more inspiring Houston sports legends who have dedicated themselves to a life of recovery.

Houston sports legend Jeff Bagwell's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

John Lucas

John Lucas played on and off from 1976 to 1990 as point guard for the Houston Rockets as he struggled with substance use disorders behind the scenes. The team repeatedly suspended Lucas before he started treatment for his substance use in order to stay in the NBA. Lucas has been in recovery for more than 30 years now, and has started his own recovery program for athletes while also serving as an assistant coach for the Rockets.

Bill Worrell

A native Houstonian, Bill Worrell was one of the most prominent voices in Houston sports for four decades. Worrell served as a television broadcaster for the Houston Astros for 20 consecutive seasons, as well as the television play-by-play announcer for the Houston Rockets from the early 1980s until his retirement earlier this year. At the height of his career, he committed to a life in recovery after struggling with alcohol use, and credited his long-standing career to his sobriety.

Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell, nicknamed “The Tyler Rose,” was the Houston Oilers’ legendary running back from 1978-1984. The local-boy-turned-pro-football-star never shirked from any challenge—a quality that made him one of the great football legends of all time, but led to significant physical injuries. Campbell found relief through prescription painkillers, which eventually took over his life. In 2009, he undertook the challenge of living drug and alcohol free after his sons initiated an intervention. Campbell shared his story at our 2012 Fall Luncheon, helping The Council to raise more than $400,000 to make recovery possible for his fellow Houstonians.

To help local individuals and families get the education and treatment they need to recover from the effects of addiction, join us on October 15th at our annual fall luncheon with Jeff Bagwell. Purchase a ticket here.

Recovery is for Everyone: A Recovery Month Message from our President & CEO

This blog post was contributed by Mary Beck, LMSW, CAI, President & CEO of The Council on Recovery

Friends,

This National Recovery Month, we celebrate and honor our friends, family members, coworkers and colleagues who are in recovery from addiction and other mental health disorders. Recovery is not a single finish line; it is a daily, lifelong commitment to better oneself and reach one’s full potential in the face of chronic substance abuse and mental health conditions. Such an effort can be difficult for anyone, but 75 years of service to our community has taught us this – with adequate resources and support, recovery is possible for everyone.

The theme of this year’s Recovery Month is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” In this year of growth and change for our organization, this theme reminds us of our commitment to welcome everyone to recovery by lowering barriers to recovery support, creating inclusive spaces and programs, and broadening our understanding of what recovery means for people with different needs and experiences.

Lowering barriers to recovery

To fulfill our vision for a community in which substance abuse is no longer a major problem, we must be willing to offer our services to all who need them. Serving the diverse community of Houston means understanding the various needs of people from differing backgrounds, as well as the unique barriers to recovery they may face.

Whether that means providing virtual services, combatting shame and stigma that still exist with substance use disorders and related mental health conditions, or offering an extensive range of treatment services to meet each person’s individual needs, our team is dedicated to helping all Houstonians who need us.

Creating inclusive spaces and programs

Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer, which means the opportunity of recovery can and should transcend race, gender, age, sexual orientation, creed, wealth, and any other label. Addiction and other mental health issues can affect anyone at any time, yet we know that those most affected often are afraid and uncertain or unable to access services necessary for recovery. Through our comprehensive service offerings, wellness opportunities, and compassionate, diverse team of addiction professionals, we strive to create an inclusive environment that celebrates our differences and unites us in a common goal of recovery for our entire community.

Broadening our understanding of recovery

Creating inclusive spaces for healing also requires understanding that recovery is not a single, defined process, neither is it limited to those with substance use disorders. The reason there is no universally agreed-upon definition for recovery is that the journey of recovery looks different for everyone. According to SAMHSA, recovery is “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Our understanding of the effects of substance use, as well as its relation to other mental health conditions, has greatly improved in the past few decades, along with our approaches to treatment and recovery support. Through initiatives like our Center for Co-Occurring Disorders, we are working with trusted organizations across Houston to broaden our understanding of addiction and recovery to treat those who need our help more effectively.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use or another mental health condition, we welcome you to begin your own recovery journey today. Call us at (713) 914-0556, or contact us through our website, and our intake team can connect you with the help you need.

Announcing Mary Beck as President & CEO

The Council on Recovery is pleased to announce that Mary Beck, LMSW, CAI, has been selected to serve as its next President & CEO. Beck, previously the Executive Vice President for The Council, will succeed Mel Taylor, MSW, who is retiring after three decades in the role, and a lifetime of service to the Houston community. Beck will officially begin the position at the beginning of The Council’s 2021-2022 fiscal year on September 1, and Taylor will continue to support the organization’s Foundation in an emeritus position.

After Taylor announced his intention to retire, Board of Trustees Chairman Dean Quinn formed a search committee comprised of tenured board members, and hired an executive search firm to launch a nationwide search. After five months of interviews and discussions, the search committee unanimously recommended to elect Beck, who was then approved by The Council’s Board of Trustees.

“It was a clear decision for us,” says Quinn. “We look forward to working with Mary going forward and seeing her visionary leadership guide this long-standing organization to further success.”

Mary Beck (center) pictured with Mel Taylor (left) and Dean Quinn (right)

Having served The Council since 2003, Beck is an accomplished and respected executive with a distinctive passion for supporting and uplifting the Houston community and behavioral health field. Before serving as Executive Vice President, she worked in various roles, including youth intervention, prevention, program development and evaluation, and clinical operations. In these roles, she oversaw creation of a centralized call center and a significant reorganization of programs and services for effectiveness and financial viability, among other accomplishments.

“Knowing how thoughtful and deliberate the search process was, it is very humbling to be considered as the best person to lead The Council,” says Beck. “I will commit myself to live up to that each and every day I serve in this role.”

Click here to view the press release on this announcement.

The Pace of Guidance: How Do I Recharge & Reconnect After a Natural Disaster?

As people receive the COVID-19 vaccination and cases across the country are in steady decline, daily life is looking more like before the pandemic hit in March of last year. But we know through research and experience that the mental health impact of natural disasters such as the pandemic long outlast the physical impact, and due to the longevity and intensity of COVID-19, experts say we may be dealing with the aftermath for years to come. In this episode of our podcast, Healing Choices: Conversations on Addiction & Recovery, Mel Taylor and Lori Fiester discuss how natural disasters affect us, and how we can help those struggling with substance use and other mental health disorders in the wake of COVID-19 and other disasters.

Five Little-Known Facts About The Council

The Council on Recovery is Houston’s oldest and largest non-profit provider of addiction prevention, education, treatment and recovery support services, having served our community for 75 years. Here are five little-known facts about The Council that briefly illustrate its longevity, growth, and commitment to the Houston community.

The Council’s origins go back to original founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, needed to raise awareness that alcoholism was a disease, and not a moral weakness. Marty Mann stepped up to the challenge and traveled across the United States to educate the public and fight the stigma of addiction. Marty’s lecture in Houston in the fall of 1946 inspired local community members to organize the Houston Committee for the Education on Alcoholism, now called The Council on Recovery.

We had 208 calls in the first year of offering services to the Houston community.

The Committee opened an information center in July 1952 under the direction of Frances A. Robertson to help Houston’s estimated 40,000 alcoholics. This was its first major effort to support those struggling with alcohol abuse. Over the next 75 years, the organization expanded both its reach as it grew larger and technology evolved, and its scope, as it implemented programs to address individuals and families on all points on the spectrum of addiction. In 2020, our intake team received more than 14,000 calls, with an average of 1,360 calls a month.  

We once had our own TV show.

Long before we began treating clients directly, The Council’s roots were in community education and awareness. We achieved this through phone calls, pamphlets, and radio appearances, but we also used the budding medium of television. In 1954, we produced a 10-week educational television program on KUHT – Channel 8.  Council staff member Mary Catherine Brown developed and hosted it.

We led the effort in Houston to treat people struggling with alcohol abuse with compassion.

For the first half of the 20th century, “revolving door” alcoholics who needed compassion and care were instead sent to prison, sanitariums, or, specifically in Houston, penal labor farms just outside the city. From the 1950s to the 1970s, The Council led an interagency effort to establish multiple halfway houses and detox centers in Houston to enable these people to recover and become contributing members of their community.

five facts about The Council

Our first fundraiser was a barbecue in 1948.

Early records include newspaper clippings advertising a barbecue fundraiser in support of the Houston Committee for the Education on Alcoholism in April 1948. Entertainment for this event included a one-act play entitled “What Can We Do?” which illustrated the Committee’s history and work. Our inaugural luncheon event was in the spring of 1984, and featured former first lady and mental health advocate Betty Ford as the keynote speaker. This event spawned the popular speaker series that continues today and has raised millions of dollars in support of local families impacted by addiction.

Learn more about the rich history of The Council on Recovery in our 75th anniversary feature, Hope Ripples Out, and consider making a gift to help continue our vital work for the next 75 years and beyond.

Changing Lives with Discovering Choices

Discovering Choices is The Council’s new outpatient treatment program, made possible by grants from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. This program allows us to expand access to our world-class outpatient treatment services and continue our promise to turn no one away. It includes specialized tracks for women and those with co-occurring mental health disorders. The following is a conversation with Ingrid Steward-Ryan, counselor for Discovering Choices.

What can people expect when they start with Discovering Choices?

Ingrid: After an assessment and orientation, they can choose between an afternoon or evening educational class. They also have individual sessions with their primary counselor. We do cognitive behavioral therapy; we aim for an overall change. The most important thing to expect is that they will also be in a process group with like-minded people. Being able to verbalize, “This is what happened to me,” and to hear other stories like their own makes the clients feel more comfortable and receptive to the program.

How does Discovering Choices help people?

Ingrid: We teach them to be self-sufficient. They are learning how to live again. We teach them how to balance their life, and how to live in balance. When you have become so used to the negative behaviors, and you were taught this way of life, it becomes a part of you. Once the client puts us in their schedule, as part of their routine, they want to continue with us. The success rate is very high. We have a lot of successful discharges, and we have a lot of people who want to continue on after treatment in our 8-week recovery management course.

What do you enjoy about working with this program?

Ingrid: I’m a people person. Even though it’s now through Zoom, I like to talk with the clients, and be able to let them know that they can change, and they don’t have to go through this alone. That joy can come back. That’s my passion.

The beautiful part about this team is that we feed off each other’s energy. It feels like we’re linked when we’re working together, and like we can finish each other’s sentences. We all know what we’re doing in the program, and everybody has a role.

What do you want people to know most about Discovering Choices?

Ingrid: I want people to know that there is help, and that you don’t have to suffer alone. We will meet you where you are.

If you think you or someone you love could benefit from outpatient treatment with The Council on Recovery, or you wish to make a referral, call 713.914.0556, or contact us here.