BILLINGS- Dozens gathered Friday for the annual Rimrock Symposium in Billings, celebrating 50 years of the nonprofit.
Rimrock Foundation is known to many in Billings as Montana’s oldest and largest private, nonprofit treatment center for addictions such as alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and gambling.
The focus on this year’s symposium was ‘the ripple effect caused by addiction’ in Montana communities and the stigma of mental illness.
The event was held at the Bighorn Resort and Convention Center, and the conference room was packed with attendees from across the state.
Keynote speakers this year were U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme of Billings and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
Beyond the ripple effect is the stigma attached to mental illness, which is something Rimrock CEO Lenette Kosovich said the agency is working to change in Montana.
Kosovich said coping with and understanding addiction first comes with an understanding of mental illness. She said helping communities appropriately respond to mental illness with the correct resources and treatment is key.
“One of the things that we are finding is so many of our adolescents are exposed to drug use early on in their life. It’s in their homes or has become normalized,” she said.
Montana also has a large population of veterans. This year’s symposium is also designed to address how veterans can talk to loved ones about depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
A group called Modern Warrior Live is set to perform at 7 p.m. Friday at the event with a live theatrical experience.
Jaymes Poling is a United States Military veteran and through the art of music and speech will take the audience through the journey of a veteran. In his performance, he will explore the psychological weighs of war and the challenges many vets face when it comes to reintegration as a civilian.