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Billings woman urges compassion during holidays for those in addiction recovery

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Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-04 11:49:09-05

BILLINGS — The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family, but for those going through recovery from opioid addiction, it can be tough. There are ways to address the issue if a loved one is suffering.

“All your loved ones, that’s all they want for you, is they want to see you on the other side of this,” said Billings resident Raphelle Hink at drug addiction treatment center, Community Medical Services, on Sunday.

Hink speaks from personal experience. She first suffered from opioid addiction 10 years ago in Arizona when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“I didn’t realize how sick I was until I got to the end, and I was told I was going to live, and I was fine. Well, then I was stuck with a huge opioid addiction that I didn’t know what to do with,” Hink said.

Then Hink turned to a dear friend named Michael Peterson.

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Raphelle Hink at Community Medical Services

“He told me back then, this is too much for you, there’s a place you can go. And I went to an opioid clinic there,” said Hink.

It took her eight years to fully recover, but she then moved back to Billings to be with her daughter and was sober for 10 years until this July. She was in an accident that broke her hip, exposing her to opioids once again.

“I was really hopeless at this point. I called my friend again, he’s like there’s got to be a clinic there, call them. I called and I came here,” Hink said.

Community Medical Services was able to get Hink on a treatment plan the day she called, all because of her friend Michael, who passed away just this October.

“He was the one person I always knew I could call with no judgment. You know what I mean, no matter what I threw at him, he was going to be okay with it,” said Hink.

CMS clinic manager, Traci Von Schriltz, echoes this sentiment when speaking to loved ones in addiction recovery.

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“Just by being open and honest and not judgmental. Giving a people a place that they can, they can talk and feel safe in talking,” Von Schriltz said.

It’s advice that’s especially important during the holidays.

“The Monday after Thanksgiving, we had seven walk in appointments come in or intakes come in that day right afterwards,” said Von Schriltz.

Hink said that many of those struggling don’t know where to turn, so providing a resource like CMS could be the first step.

“If you drop like the name of a place or just slightly tell them there are places that you don’t have to struggle, it should resonate with them because I know it did with me,” Hink said.

She said that having a friend like Michael made all the difference in the world.

“I kind of feel like when I come here, I owe it to him. I owe my truth. It’s his remembrance, and it helps me get through this,” said Hink.