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Moore Counseling Services offers the tools to overcome substance abuse

Debbie Moore, of Moore Counseling Services, was drawn to the social service field as a young woman growing up in Altoona. Her father, Correll \”Chuck\” Gressley, was a WWII veteran who became involved in politics in Blair County after coming home from the war. He was Director of Veterans Affairs, Blair County Treasurer and he was County Commissioner for 16 years until his passing in 1974.
\”It shaped me because his responsibilities as County Commissioner was the social services agencies,\” said Moore. From there, her roots were planted into the ground and that led her on the path she is currently on.
Although her dad is her hero, Moore believes that the right job comes to a person. It doesn\’t need to be sought out. Her beginning in the social service field was a perfect example.
Moore stated, \”In 1985, I got a call in the middle of the night from a friend who was admitting her husband into the Tyrone Hospital Detoxification Unit, which was the only one around at the time, and she talked about the experience admitting him, and the director of the detox unit asked her to call someone to help her and she called me.\”
\”The director of the unit said for her to talk to me, and then tell me to call her tomorrow because she had a part-time position she would like me to have,\” added Moore.
Moore took that position at Tyrone Hospital as a Part-time Counselor and later a job at Cove Forge Rehabilitation Center in Williamsburg as an Adult Addictions Counselor and Coordinator, and worked there until 1995.
In that year, she received a phone call from a friend, Jill Loomis, who worked for Evergreen Counseling Associates in Tyrone, and she asked Moore if she would open a private practice with her. Moore agreed and headed back to Tyrone.
Moore opened the doors of Moore Counseling Services in 1995 and still practices in downtown Tyrone today, no longer affiliated with Evergreen Counseling. She first provided a combination of drug and alcohol, marital and general counseling, but presently is exclusive in drug and alcohol counseling. Her services are strictly confidential and no information about an individual is released without written consent, and she is limited in such information provided to anyone with that consent.
She has an excellent working relationship with the Blair County Court System, which in turn, fills her schedule with client referrals. She\’s limited in the number of clients she can see based on her license, which is through the Pennsylvania Department of Health. But, Moore doesn\’t limit herself to just office work.
\”I am on the Drug Court Assessment Team and I work two days a week in the Blair County Prison providing assessment services for both males and females, and treatment services to female inmates,\” said Moore.
Moore also does a facilitated support group called \”The Hope Group,\” which meets at the courthouse every Wednesday evening for family members of the people in drug court and any family member of people who are addicts.
Moore believes that addiction is a disease and that it has a significant impact on not only the individual, but on his or her family and on the community. The sooner, as with any disease, the individual seeks and receives treatment, the less impact there is on the community, family and individual.
Drug addiction, specifically heroin, is a prominent issue that Moore works with every day. She says that addiction is a hereditary, familial and environmental disease, and that the reason that some of the problems exist in Tyrone is ongoing denial on the part of some individuals of his or her use and a lack of resources for young people in the area.
\”There is little that is available for some young members of the community to participate in, and I think that has a significant impact also. Peer pressure is huge at the time most people start an addictive process, which is generally between the ages of 12-14,\” said Moore.
She added, \”Anything that we can do in the community to provide services for all those kids can help us in the future to decrease the problem. Not having those activities are a barrier to a healthy, drug-free living.\”
Moore feels that she is a good counselor because she is someone who understands life, that people are all different, all people have problems, and it takes someone who respects those differences to be able to understand what the people she is trying to help are going through and understand the ways to help them make their lives better.
\”I believe that as a human being our primary task is to live right and do right, to do what you can to make the world a better place, in whatever capacity. I believe that because of what I think are my skills, that this is the way I can do that,\” added Moore.
She continued, \”I often say if I can help one person, just one person, then I have made the world better. If I can live like a decent, honorable and valiant person, then that\’s two people.\”
Some may think Moore is a \”dreamer,\” but the people who know her see her as a compassionate, caring person, who has an ability to draw people out of themselves.
Former associate and friend, Jill Loomis, added, \”I think she can offer hope to addicts and those who tried and not stayed in recovery and want to try again. And that does offer something to a small, tight and well connected community like Tyrone.\”
\”There\’s something about Debbie\’s authenticity of realness and understanding of addiction that makes it possible for people to come to her for help,\” added Loomis.
Moore also draws on her own personal experiences as a child of the 60\’s and 70\’s, when experimentation with drugs became much more common and many were not aware of the consequences. As a result of that, she married an individual who had fairly serious problems, and that had a direct impact on the rest of her life.
She is working diligently on a Hepatitis C project in correlation with Blair County to help individuals get tested for hepatitis and assist them in getting the treatment needed. Hepatitis is rampant within the drug community, but is treatable.
Moore also keeps pace with implementing new wave treatment approaches for drug and alcohol and mental health clients. Resources have changed significantly in educational material to provide to clients, as well as pharmaceutical aides to enhance sobriety from many different drugs ranging from alcohol to heroin.
Ultimately, recovery and sobriety is up to the individual, according to Moore. There are successes and failures when treating clients, and she doesn\’t dwell in the successes because she also witnesses the failures.
She added, \”I\’ve had many people die, many people not recover and many people whose lives get worse instead of better. I had to learn early on that I\’m only the guide, that I can give everybody the same tools to use, and those who use them are because they choose to.\”
\”It feels awesome to know that I did hand them the tools, but the work is theirs. The joy must be vicarious. For me, it\’s the losses, not the wins,\” ended Moore.
Moore Counseling Services is located at 1222 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 200, located in the I-99 Antiques Building. Anyone interested in counseling can call Debbie Moore at 684-5588.