MASSILLON, Ohio — Kathleen Anslover started drinking when she was 11 years old and struggled with alcohol and drugs for more than three decades, but the 63-year-old Massillon woman has been sober for the past 20 years.
"That means everything to me," Anslover told News 5 while holding back tears. "It means that I live today. I'm not just existing."
Anslover is happy that Massillon is getting its first sober living house just for women.
Betty's House, located on Lincoln Way E., is a renovated home that was purchased by brothers Patrick and Joe Cusma.
It has been renovated and has several bedrooms, bathrooms, living room areas and a kitchen.
Up to 12 women can live at the sober living house at a time. So far, seven women have been approved.
The rent is $420 per month. It's scheduled to open next Monday.
Patrick Cusma, who is an attorney and a recovering alcoholic, said the house is named after his mother, Betty, who struggled with alcohol addiction.
A house manager will live in the building to help the women regain stability.
"We get people in a situation where we can teach them how to go back out to society and lead a reasonably normal and happy life," Patrick Cusma said.
In order for the women to remain at Betty's House, they are required to work and/or be involved in 25 hours of community service each week. They must also follow a curfew.
"You're not only accountable to me as the operator, and the house manager, but the women hold each other accountable for their actions and and/or inactions," Patrick Cusma added.
National studies by Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina revealed that binge drinking spiked by about 30% during much of the pandemic.
The studies also showed that women reported exceeding recommended drinking guidelines more than men.
For example, alcohol consumption among women with children under the age of five jumped 323% between February and November of 2020.
"We also know that women are more likely to use alcohol to cope with stress, depression and anxiety, so all these together magnifies why women increase more than men," said Carolina Barbosa Ph.D., a health economist at RTI.
Anslover said she understands why women are struggling with alcohol under the pressures of the pandemic.
"I'm not surprised because people are afraid and fear is an underlying condition of our addition," she said.
However, Anslover is convinced Betty's House will make a big difference for women battling addiction at a time when many need help.
"There is hope if you get out there and get help," Anslover said.