FARGO — Their stories are compelling and sometimes heartbreaking.
"I was battling, and I tried a number of times to quit on my own and was not successful," Jonathan Holth said.
Holth is a success story. He is the owner of The Toasted Frog restaurants in three cities as well as a new coffee shop. He is also the first to step up and share his story of addiction and treatment.
"I didn't even imagine talking about it at all when I first came out of treatment," Holth said.
He goes out of his way to help the waiters, dishwashers and cooks in his restaurants who have addiction but have barriers to getting help.
"People say, 'I would go to treatment, but I can't lose my job,' so we tell them, 'No questions asked, you have a job when you get back,'" Holth said. "Whether you have been here one month or ten years, and they say, 'I have bills and rent,' so we tell them, 'We will pay you while you are in treatment.'"
Holth and North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum will speak about addiction and recovery Thursday, Oct. 14, in Grand Forks at the Women's Leadership Conference. Holth will be one of the main speakers at the Recovery Reinvented conference in Bismarck on Oct. 25.
The hope is to spark conversations — not just about addiction or the shortage of treatment centers — but also about how businesses can benefit by being a part of the solution.
"It is a disease; let's talk about it just like any other disease," Burgum said. "People could be struggling that you are working next to — you don't know. It affects everyone in some way, and so it is really important to create opportunities for recovery supported workplaces."
"It pays off, but more importantly, you have the opportunity to help someone get better," Holth said.
The first lady, who brings her own experience of recovery to the conversation, brings world famous experts and local neighbors to the table, searching for ways to slowly chip away at the stigma of addiction.
The Recovery Reinvented conference in is free, but registration is suggested. It will also be available to watch online.