Advocate Lutheran General hosts Suppelsa talk on alcoholism
By Jackie Pilossoph For Sun-Times Media | @divorcedgirljp April 22, 2014 5:25PM
Mark Suppelsa, WGN evening news anchor and investigative reporter, spoke on alchoholism and its treatment at Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge on April 17.
Updated: May 5, 2014 12:14PM
“Sneaky, quiet” and “isolated” would not be most people’s words to describe Mark Suppelsa, WGN evening news anchor and investigative reporter. But those are the words Suppelsa used to describe himself when talking about his alcohol addiction before getting help.
Suppelsa will also say he’s an alcoholic who has been in recovery for two years, and who is being open, honest and public about it in an effort to help others.
“I’m a reporter, and what’s the one thing reporters despise about people they are interviewing? Lack of truthfulness,” said Suppelsa, who was the keynote speaker for Advocate Lutheran General’s fundraising event, “An Evening with Mark Suppelsa,” at the Park Ridge hospital on April 17. “It’s in my heart and soul and makeup to be blunt and truthful, which is part of the program, too. It’s the only way for me to be.”
Speaking to an audience of 150, which included doctors, staff at Advocate’s Addiction Treatment Program and the majority, people in need of or in treatment, along with their loved ones, Suppelsa told his story. It began with the first beer he had, which was in college, and culminated decades later, when he was staying up until 3 a.m. to drink bottles of wine by himself, and what happened then.
“I felt something had changed in me,” said Suppelsa, who lives on the North Shore with his wife Candus and two children. “Where you might have that switch in your brain that you can flip off when it’s time to stop drinking, I didn’t have that anymore.”
Suppelsa said it was his wife who “caught him” one night and asked if he needed help.
“Before I could even think about it, I blurted out, ‘Yes, I think I need help,’ and it was a sad moment that turned into an epiphany,” he said. “It was scary because I had just turned over the keys. There was no turning back.”
The following day, Suppelsa entered the well-known treatment facility, Hazelden in Minnesota, and has been sober ever since.
“It’s still not easy, but I feel so much better in so many ways, physically and emotionally. Everything is so much more clear. I’m not feeling tired all the time,” he said. “I actually sleep to get rest now, not to recover from the drinking.”
“An Evening with Mark Suppelsa” was part of the Advocate Addiction Treatment Program’s educational lecture series, and included a silent auction, raffle ticket sales, and a meet and greet with Suppelsa following his speech.
Proceeds from the lecture will provide assistance to those who are unable to seek addiction treatment because of financial issues.
“If I help one person or 10 or 100 by speaking here tonight, that’s wonderful,” Suppelsa said. “If I help them, I’m actually helping myself, too.”
The mission of the Advocate Addiction Treatment Program is to help individuals reclaim all aspects of a balanced life and to return to society empowered to make healthy decisions without the use of alcohol, drugs or other addictive substances. More information: advocatehealth.com/addiction or call (847) 795-3921.