I Am My Sister’s Keeper

Nan believes that truly seeing and treating addiction as a family and public health problem would make services more universally accessible and acceptable and as a result, recovery more inclusive to women.

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More female leadership and women’s voices are needed in the recovery movement.

Nan Franks is the CEO of Addiction Services Council, a community-based prevention and treatment organization in the Cincinnati, OH area. She has spent her life in social services, 35 years of that focused on addiction.

She says, “I am blessed to be part of a family with multi-generational recovery. With that perspective, I am able to share my experience, strength and hope that families can and do recover. It is also from that history of family addiction that I continue to advocate for treatment services for children and families.”

Nan believes that truly seeing and treating addiction as a family and public health problem would make services more universally accessible and acceptable and as a result, recovery more inclusive to women. Part of that is more female leadership and women’s voices in the recovery movement.

“35 years ago, there were very few women in leadership positions even in the nonprofit world,” Nan said. “I am happy to see so many bright, energetic and intelligent young women assuming high-level positions in behavioral healthcare.”

Another aspect of supporting women in recovery is acknowledging the social differences between the genders. For women, social expectations about substance use and recovery can affect their health outcomes.

Nan said, “With regard to addiction and recovery, women face the same challenges as other women. They are often fulfilling multiple life roles, are judged harshly for any behavior seen as inappropriate and expected to fulfill society’s expectation that they be physically attractive, empathetic and nurturing. Too often, women who need help with addiction, are not in an economic position that will allow them to take off for treatment or are primarily responsible for children and household functioning. For women struggling with addiction in their family, there is very little help available.”

However, when women do receive the help they need, their recovery is powerful. Addiction Services Council has a true commitment to supporting recovery for all. As a reflection of that commitment, they have never turned anyone who needed help away. They are also especially proud of their Quick Response Team that, partnered with law enforcement and EMS, links overdose survivors with treatment and recovery.

Nan says that she was raised in a family where she was taught “I am my sister’s keeper.” That, coupled with a desire to give back, has led her to dedicate her career to helping people.

“I continue to do this work for a couple of reasons,” she said. “First, we learn something new about addiction every day which keeps the work interesting. Second, I witness courage, faith and miracles every day.”

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