How the Dewey Center helped Myriah heal her whole self

In 2013, Myriah Mundt worked at a senior living community in Port Washington. She often had to lift patients and eventually injured her back. She was treated with a lot of physical therapy – and painkillers. In fact, this course of treatment, including consistent opioid treatment, lasted two years.

But that’s not all Myriah was facing.  “My then-fiancé was using drugs,” she said. “And he took all my painkillers.”
Myriah Mundt at the Lighthouse on Dewey, where she co-leads an Alcoholics Anonymous group.
Still, Myriah needed a way to relieve her constant back pain. She was in a precarious position, both physically and emotionally. So, without her painkillers, she started using other drugs with him.

In 2015, she finally had a multi-level fusion performed on her back – something that should have alleviated her now two-year-old injury. Instead, the surgery required more painkillers, which exacerbated what had become the biggest problem of all: her addiction to opioids.
Help where you least expect it

During this time, Myriah had become adept at hiding her problem from others because she learned to hide herself. “I isolated myself completely,” she recalled. “I came out so rarely, no one would have believed that I was a user when they actually did see me.”

Thankfully, her parents put an end to all the hiding with a well-timed police wellness check. It resulted in the arrest that would change her life.

“I spent 14 days in the Ozaukee County Jail. I detoxed there, alone,” Myriah said. “It was truly terrible!”

That’s because the symptoms of opioid withdrawal are notoriously severe. “But I think I needed it to be terrible,” Myriah said. “I knew I needed that memory to help keep me straight,” she said.

To this day, Myriah stays in touch with the police officer who arrested her that fateful day. “He was so kind to me, and I’ll never forget it.”

The bravery of getting better

Now a healthy 30-year-old, Myriah can reflect and understand that she wasn’t in a good mindset, even when she first injured her back five years ago. She’d already been a heavy drinker for a long time and wasn’t prepared to recognize that her relationship was destructive – that she was becoming stuck in the middle between her partner and drug abuse. “I felt like I was locked in an emotional cage and I didn’t have a key,” she said.

But then Myriah found the key to it all: the Dewey Center at the Aurora Behavioral Health Campus. She spent 21 days in the Dewey Center’s partial hospitalization program, where she learned that her addiction is nothing to be ashamed of.

“All the caregivers at the Dewey Center treated me with kindness, respect and love,” Myriah said. “I learned that I could – that I should – be kind to myself, respect myself and love myself, no matter what.”

People suffering from substance abuse are just that: people. They’re anybody and everybody. They’re your attorney, your mechanic, your farmer. They’re your friend. They’re Myriah, a young woman who’s been to the bottom and come out on top to pay it forward.

Myriah’s story shows us that the road to healing may take us to places we don’t want to go. Painful places. Uncomfortable places. But they’re the places that get us where we need to go.

“I’ve been sober for 18 months. I want to tell my story,” Myriah insisted. “And I want people to know that I would not have made it this far without the Dewey Center.”
You can help expand addiction recovery services when you support the Foundation’s Renew, Restore, Rebuild campaign, a $1.5 million effort enhancing Aurora’s $35 million commitment to increasing capacity and treatment at the Aurora Behavioral Health Campus.  This means that when you participate in the campaign, you’re helping more people like Myriah recover and live well. To find how you can support this effort, visit give.aurora.org/rebuild.

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