County Commissioner breaking the stigma of addiction recovery

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (WyomingNewsNow) - Addiction has many faces, every one of them different; it also has an ugly stigma of silence. During recovery month, Recover Wyoming is trying to bring awareness to that stigma and defeat it.

"The stigma was that people would lose their jobs if people knew they struggled with alcohol or drugs.” Says Laura Griffith, the founder of Recover Wyoming, “They would lose families, they would lose careers."

As someone who is in recovery herself, Laura’s story is one that says recovery can be a struggle – she went to resident treatment six times before sobriety stuck after going to Peak Wellness in Cheyenne. Before that, though, her recovery, like many others, started with a tipping point.

“My family was completely done,” Laura explains, “They had to turn away from me for me to realize I was going to be homeless and completely alone.”

Laura - who has a masters from University of Wyoming - struggled with alcohol for more than a decade. Now, she is celebrating 16 years of sobriety.

Laura’s story is one of many, but a particular success story can be found at the old courthouse in downtown Cheyenne, sitting at his desk that voters put him at in the last election.

You may already know who Gunnar Malm is. He’s a successful realtor, and one of the newest Laramie County Commissioners. What you may not know he is a recovering alcoholic, celebrating 4 years of being sober. Gunnar would be the first to tell you that, too.

Recovery month, which was proclaimed in Laramie County for September by Gunnar and the other commissioners, is meant to fight the stigma of shame and failure that comes with seeking help. That stigma is the very reason Gunnar will not be silent.

“Seeking help is one of the best gifts you can give yourself,” he told Wyoming News Now, from his office in the old county courthouse, “You can do whatever you put your mind to, as long as you put recovery first. And I continue to do that every day."

So here he is, a recovering alcoholic, yes, but, thanks to refusing to stay silent and having the courage to ask for help, he is also a success.