Renowned addiction counselor Peter Hayden is retiring

A well-known addiction treatment counselor in Minnesota is retiring.

Peter Hayden is the founder of Turning Point in Minneapolis. His own recovery began 50 years ago after returning from the Vietnam War. He went on to complete his Ph.D. and became a pioneer in the field.

He will leave the positions of founder and CEO of Turning Point at the end of the year to take on the role of ambassador.

She reflected on her career and shared what’s next with All Things host Tom Crann.

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Listen to the full interview by clicking the audio player above. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Take us back to your recovery story. I understand it was after your service in the Vietnam War. What did you miss in the treatment you received then?

Turning Point is a culture-specific service center, and that means we treat people based on their culture and not their color.

And what I was missing and what I had done is that when I went into treatment, I found that there were no people who looked like me or talked like me [or] talked like me or even listened to the same music as me. So it was important to me that I found a way to help myself, but also others.

Tell me more about that culturally specific part.

I came out knowing I didn’t have enough care. 12 steps [Alcoholics Anonymous] is a great tool. However, when it came to me and trying to understand who I was, what my life was going to be, I had to look at the cultural side.

The cultural aspect is that you and I have the opportunity to do some things if I find out who you are. For example, if you listen to Motown music, you and I can connect. Culture offers me and others the tools to connect, where we can take the next step.

Have we improved the care and recovery of people of color over the years?

We have served for a lifetime, which has been good. But now we need to take this a step further because chemical health and addiction have changed over the years.

At one time Ray Charles or many other colored people took them to Kentucky and let them dry.

We’re not taking you to Kentucky today. We provide an environment that makes you feel like you can do this and that others are willing to help you do it.

I want to talk about today’s situation with the opioid crisis and fentanyl. As you see this, is this different and does it require different methods or newer methods of treatment?

Fentanyl is nothing more than heroin, but now it has a new name and it has affected many people.

In my case, when I was going through my life changes, I didn’t have a support system. Now we have this support system and dollars are starting to come out.

But I think in terms of the dollars coming out: who makes the decisions, how they make the decisions, and are we looking at the turning points, the Hazeldens that have been around long enough to say they’re doing a good job. Let’s use the protocol they have so we can do even better.

Having done this in your career for 50 years, what do you wish we could do today or that you wish we could do better at this point?

I’d like to see more twists. We are the largest provider of services to African Americans, people of color, women and children in the five-state area. It shouldn’t be like this.

I’m looking for more people who look like me. I’m looking for women. I am looking for children for this road. So they realize they can do it too.

And that’s what I’m trying to do. And that’s what I intend to do as I move into my next phase as an ambassador not only for Turning Point but for all care associations.

In an interview I recently read with Hazelden about 50 years of sobriety, you said: Recovery isn’t just part of me. It’s my life, my life. Tell me more about it.

It’s my life. My spiritual being is tied to that in my life. But because you have a chance to do something, some people say I’m going to take it on myself and I’m going to make it bigger for myself, etc.

I decide to take my sobriety and share it. And that’s what I want to do. That’s why I feel comfortable when I don’t leave the Turning Point but move to another position.

We finally found the right person to take over my office so I can continue sharing. I am very lucky because my higher power has chosen me to lead this project.

After you step down as founder and CEO, what will happen next for you? What would you want to see?

I would like to see more people hear my voice. I’m African American and I don’t think they’re looking at the positive side. They only look at the negative side. And so I would like people to feel more comfortable and give me and others who look like me a chance.

All I can tell you is this: George Floyd was at Turning Point. He did well. When he left, he was doing well. He left town, came back and those things started happening.

But I think sometimes people who look like me and others feel like the knee is in their neck. And if we get it and don’t just do it for a year or two, but make this a part of our life, my life is not in vain.

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