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Recovering alcoholic leads Cattan center, understands disease

Camille Doty

By Camille Doty
Aug. 26, 2012 at 3:26 a.m.

Mary Helen Barrick, 52, is a recovering alcoholic who now serves as the executive director of the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach.  She's been sober for seven years and is passionate about helping others with their struggles.

Mary Helen Barrick grew up determined not to follow in her father's footsteps as an alcoholic. He died at the age of 50.

"I've seen how alcoholism can take a family out. It's a disease like cancer," Barrick said.

The 52-year-old Austin native fought her own battle for life when she began drinking in high school. Barrick said she couldn't handle life and began repeating the cycle she was determined to break.

"I did the exact same thing and brought the heartache on myself," she said.

The Texas Tech University graduate turned her life around by becoming sober and getting counseling. She made the decision to become clean while drinking a glass of wine in her kitchen.

Her family was on the verge of slipping away and Barrick decided to get help.

The former substitute teacher became a drug and alcohol counselor. Barrick, a mother of four, used her story as a platform to help other recovering alcoholics at the outpatient facility in Victoria for four years.

She now serves as the executive director of the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach since October, where she manages six employees, including four full-time counselors.

"One of the biggest gifts I have is doing what I love and feel strongly about," she said.

Susan Cattan Rybak, widow of Billy T. Cattan, said Barrick has tremendous support and is an invaluable asset to the center that helps about 500 clients each year.

"She oversees the entire operation," Rybak said.

Barrick said the faith-based facility has an incredible amount of potential and has worked tirelessly to help raise money for the nonprofit organization.

Her most recent venture has been helping secure funds through the "Dancing with the Stars - Victoria Style" fundraiser scheduled Thursday.

Barrick, a grandmother of twin girls, said addiction takes a toll on the entire family, not just the addict.

She wants to be able to provide support to everyone involved. Barrick said she fights her own addiction and understands if clients relapse. She said her heart and door are always open to them.

"I want to do whatever it takes to help people. It's a journey," she said.



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