FMWF Chamber Eggs and Issues event tackles issues of workplace wellness and addiction

Mary Locken, a division manager at Bell Bank, spoke Tuesday, Aug. 4, during an online Eggs and Issues presentation on workplace wellness and addiction by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

MOORHEAD - Mary Locken and Mary Beth Traynor are intimately familiar with the frustration and heartbreak that come with battling to help their children escape addiction.

They also know how vital it is to have the support of co-workers and bosses, and the urgent need to devote more resources to preventing addiction in young people, and provide treatment for the addicted.

“The heaviness is too difficult to describe,” Locken, a division manager at Bell Bank, said Tuesday, Aug. 4, during an online Eggs and Issues Chamber of Commerce presentation on workplace wellness and addiction. “We’re dealing with these very insurmountable challenges.”

Traynor, the vice president of Blessed John Paul II Catholic Schools, teared up at times as she told the story of son, Matthew, who took his own life four years ago after his struggle with addiction.

“Alcohol, marijuana, those are the things they get started on,” Traynor told attendees of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber event. (The webcast was moderated by Scott Holdman, chief transformation officer for the Impact Foundation.)


“They’re (addictions) tough on relationships, they’re tough on families. The cost is high,” Traynor said. “You have to have hope, or you wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning.”

According to the American Addiction Centers, in 2017, about 4% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 suffered from an alcohol or illicit drug use disorder. That is about 992,000 people, or 1 in 25 in that age group.


Among young adults, ages 18 to 25, about 5.1 million battled a substance use disorder. That was about 14.8% of the population, or about 1 in 7 in that age group. In addition, heroin use among 18 to 25-year-olds had doubled in the preceding decade.
Locken said she can picture episodes with both of her sons, Joe and Nick Horski, as they lay in hospital emergency rooms after overdoses or in withdrawal, then leaving at 5 a.m. and having to go to work.

She said the support she received in her workplace helped her cope with her sons’ heroin and opioid addictions.

"(They) saved my life and my sanity," Locken said.

“Not every workplace has that open atmosphere,” Locken said. “My request to everybody listening to this message … is to extend your hand and ear “ to someone who needs to share their story.

Locken’s sons started young with alcohol, then marijuana, before moving on to heavier drugs. As they struggled with heroin and fentanyl addictions, Locken said there were “very, very difficult chapters” for their family. They both spent time in jail and prison, she said, with most of those arrests because she called police to intervene.


Her sons now talk about their challenges with mental health issues and addiction, helping others and helping themselves in the process, she said.

“My sons, thankfully, are in recovery,” Locken said, urging listeners to “be kind to each other” and let people who are dealing with addictions know they aren’t alone.

Traynor, the mother of three sons, lost her Matthew “Matto” to addiction.

Her boys were active and loved to hunt and fish.

“We had a pretty normal life, and we were just cruising along,” Traynor said.

Something changed for Matthew about age 14. His grades dropped and his older brother one day confided to Traynor that “Matthew is using. He’s extremely using.”

One day, Traynor took Matthew in for a blood test and he was positive for both cocaine and marijuana.

“Then our lives went out of control,” Traynor said.


Matthew was in and out of drug treatment multiple times. He graduated from high school in jail, she said.

In college, Matthew’s drug use escalated. His drug of choice was marijuana and he smoked heavily.

In the last two years of his life, Matthew suffered psychosis from heavy marijuana use. He heard voices “and they were extremely negative,” Traynor said.

Traynor and her husband prayed often for their son before he took his own life.

After his death, she was determined to do her part to prevent addiction. With the help of Dakota Medical Foundation, she started the Matto Foundation. Its mission is to delay the use of alcohol and drugs, decrease substance abuse, and ultimately defeat addiction in young people.

“It takes everybody to wrap their arms around the issue, bring it to life, talk about it, research it. ….. Together, we can beat this," Traynor said.

Mary Beth Traynor

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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