Former Kansas secretary of commerce Pat George never wanted to get into politics.

Born and raised in Dodge City, George went from state representative to a member of Gov. Sam Brownback's cabinet until an even bigger calling crossed his desk.

"The CEO of Valley Hope was getting ready to retire and contacted me to ask if I would be interested in taking his position," George said. "It was something I couldn't say no to."

Valley Hope is a drug and alcohol recovery facility of both in-patient and out-patient services.

With the corporate headquarters located in Norton, Kansas, Valley Hope now has 15 recovery centers in the seven states across the midwest.

"It has become one of the largest providers of drug and alcohol services in the country," George said. "We have more than 700 employees and serve 1,800 per year."

Despite being in politics, George has always been attached to Valley Hope in one form or another.

"If you want to go back far enough, my father was one of the first patients here," George said. "I myself have more than 25 years of sobriety and it is all because of this place.

"When the entity that saved your life comes calling, you answer it.

"I've also been on its board for several years."

With the reach Valley Hope can make in people's lives, according to George it still seems like a kept secret.

"There's still a lot of people who have never heard of us," he said,  "And unfortunately there is an increased need in people getting the help they need.

"We have begun discussions with doctor's across the country about intervening a lot sooner with someone with the disease.

"Addiction is a disease that needs to be treated the same as you would someone with cancer."

One of the increased needs George is seeing is the rise in synthetic drug and opioid addiction treatment especially amongst younger sufferers.

"Our average age of patient went from 39 to 29 in the last 10 years and a lot of it has to do with opioid addiction such as Oxycontin and heroin," George said. "The trick with treating opioid addiction is that people aren't using them to get high, they are using them to avoid the extreme withdrawal and craving that is associated with opioid use."

George added that the new opioid issue is very different when compared to past heroin epidemics across the country.

"20 Years ago, the heroin use affected more poverty stricken areas with a high population," he said. "Now with the addition of Oxycontin (a prescribed painkiller mostly treated for cancer patients), anyone no matter their age, race or financial situation are getting exposed to these drugs and when they are taken off of them so suddenly, the craving is so bad that they seek out heroin in the streets."

According to George, now that there is a high need for street opioids, cartels have brought in more pure heroin and have been able to sell them at cheaper rates than Oxycontin or heroin sold in the past.

"Problem with the new heroin is that yeah it is more pure, but now they are adding other things into the bags you don't know about," George said. "With an Oxycontin prescription you at least know exactly what you are getting.

"When you get a bag of heroin, you have no idea how much extra stuff has been added to it."

Just recently, Academy Award winning actor Philip Seymour-Hoffman died of a heroin overdose.

An autopsy revealed that the heroin he had used had Fentanyl, a drug some say is 10 times stronger than morphine, mixed in with it.

"At Valley Hope we have started whats called MAT, medicated assisted treatment, where we give the patients medication to help relieve the cravings and the withdrawal," said George. "But we are seeing these cravings occur 6, 8 and 12 weeks after the last use occurring.

"The only way to describe it is think of someone trying to lose weight or quit smoking, now multiply the craving times 100.

"It is that uncontrollable."

One thing George could not stress enough is that help is available for everyone.

"I think everyone has experienced the struggles of addiction in some form," George said. "If not directly they have a family member who suffers or a friend who has a loved one that is having issues.

"With drugs and alcohol, it knows no limit. It very much is treated like cancer.

"You can go years without any issue then a relapse can happen.

"That is one thing we stress at Valley Hope, if you relapse you haven't failed. It is part of the process.

"What we then do is go back and see what treatments worked and what didn't and change them."

George added that when Dr. William Leipeold founded the treatment center, one of the rules was that every person that came through the door be greeted with a hug and shown the outmost respect and love.

"In all my years of recovery and service," George said. "The one thing that works the best for everyone is love.

"Whether it is the 45-year-old alcoholic with a wife and kids and good job or the 20-year-old homeless kid who's family has shunned him.

"We show everyone love."

If you or someone you know is battling drugs and alcohol, visit valleyhope.org or call 800-544-5101. They also have a live chat option available on the website.