New program helps recovering addicts make lasting changes

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – A new program available through the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi is giving hope to some inmates who want to change their lives for the better.

For the first time since he can recall, Chris Hatfield was concerned about someone other than himself.

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“I didn’t have a commitment to other people, it was myself and myself only,” said Hatfield.

Hatfield has changed that attitude, and many other attitudes and behaviors, with the help Kim Benefield, recovery program coordinator with the Family Resource Center.

Benefield met Hatfield earlier this year, when he was an inmate at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility.

It was the fourth time Hatfield had been to jail on drug-related charges, and the 48-year-old agreed to be part of a pilot program Benefield was teaching.

It is called “Moral Reconation Therapy”

“It helps wake the brain up, helps them look at their behaviors and how they can change on their own,” said Benefield.

The twelve week program made a big difference, but the main factor according to Hatfield, was heartfelt concern shown by his counselor.

“To see the level of commitment, Mrs. Benefield put into it, made me want to stay in it, it opened my eyes to want to help other people,” said Hatfield.

Hatfield is doing just that. He was released from jail two weeks ago, and acts as a mentor to inmates going through the program. That is one of the distinctions of the MRT program, the follow-through after an inmate gets out of jail and back into society and involvement from the entire community.

“We didn’t extend that hand to bring them in and give them what they need, we have to as a community, do that, we have to take part in helping, they are good people, who make bad choices,” said Benefield.

And for the first time, Hatfield is feeling great about his future, and the opportunities he will have to help others avoid the had choices he made for years.

So far, the MRT program is in Chickasaw and Alcorn counties. The Family Resource Center hopes to expand the program to other counties, as funding allows.

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