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Horizon provider helps mother of six overcome drug addiction

Dakota Mora’s life was turned upside down when her six children were taken away by Child Protective Services.

She turned to opioids to cope and soon found herself addicted. She had a variety of other health problems and had been searching for some time for a solution. She felt ignored by providers she’d seen prior to coming to Horizon Health Care’s Aberdeen Community Health Center.

“I knew my health wasn’t good,” she said. “I began to look for small clinics and that’s when I found Horizon.”

Dakota had visited emergency rooms several times and had various health problems. Once her children were taken away, she turned to opioids more and more to numb the pain.

“Pretty soon I found out I was addicted,” she said. “My kids are gone, I’m an addict, I’m crying, I can’t sleep at night. I was just really a mess.”

She started using Horizon for her primary care in April, and her life has been turned around.

Provider Catherine Friesen, CNP, used Medication-Assisted Treatment to help Dakota stop using opioids. The method uses a combination of medications, counseling, and behavioral health treatments to help people recover from opioid addiction. In addition to medication, Friesen made suggestions to help Dakota move forward with her sobriety and to help get her children back. She was there for Dakota through all the stages of her journey to better health.

“I felt so relieved that I finally found the doctor I needed,” Dakota said.  “She’s the most amazing doctor. Her personality built a connection with me.”

Friesen provided a support system for Dakota. She listened to her concerns and gave her a shoulder to cry on. She also suggested Dakota try a new habit to take her mind off her addiction and other concerns. Dakota started gardening and it opened new opportunities for joy and relaxation. Instead of spending money on opioids, she spent that money on growing vegetables for her family.

“I started with her when my life was upside down,” Dakota said. “I was a mess. She would always be there for me. She would always be a shoulder to cry on. She would personally comfort me and make me feel like I belong here.”

Slowly but surely, Dakota began to put her life back together. She’s taken multiple parenting classes, as well as a class on domestic violence, even though she’s never experienced it herself – it was another opportunity for learning, Friesen suggested.

“She’s done everything I asked her to do from the very beginning,” Friesen said. “She’s gotten a job, and she is in a very positive manner functioning with her children. She has not had any setbacks with drug abuse whatsoever. She’s happy, she’s positive, she has a full-time job and she’s working on getting her children back on a permanent basis.”

Dakota sees a therapist regularly. Her children are still with CPS, but she can have them with for longer periods of unsupervised visits.

“My whole personality is different,” Dakota said. “I’m a mom now. I sit down and read books with my kids. I sit at the table and help them with homework instead of just setting them there and ignoring them and going to get opioids.”

Without Horizon, Dakota said her life would still be a mess. She’s grateful to donors for providing resources so that patients like her can work toward building a better life.