Expect A MiracleFeb 03, 2021
I ran an adolescent outpatient substance treatment program for many years.
One night I was standing in my office with some parents. We had just finished a graduation group where their daughter had just completed the program, and we were in there having a little closure, they were thanking me for how I had helped their daughter, etc.
At one point I looked at the dad and could see that he was starting to get a little emotional. His face was getting sort of red, he started choking up, his eyes were welling up with tears. His wife saw that he was getting emotional and she sort of fidgeted nervously. Then all of sudden the floodgates burst, he starts bawling and he blurts out, "I feel like we got our daughter back."
And I could tell that he was thinking about everything that had happened over the past several years that had led up to this point:
The chaos and turmoil their daughter's drug use caused the family before they even knew what was going on.
The fear and frustration they went through in trying to figure out what to do once they did figure out what was going on.
And then there was just how hard it was for them going through the whole treatment process. Heck, just a couple weeks earlier we'd been standing in that same office with the parents feeling hopeless and devastated because the daughter wasn't getting with the program.
But here we were. They had just listened to their daughter read her graduation statement in group where she talked about how excited she was about being sober, about how proud she was of all the hard work she had done, and how grateful she was to her parents for being so tough on her and making her go through all of this!
And after the dad pulled himself together a bit, he sort of jokingly said, "I'm telling you, if you could just write a book that told parents exactly what do, you could make a million dollars."
And that got my attention. Sure, we can make jokes about the million dollars part, but what really got my attention was just how exasperated he was. And that got me thinking about how difficult it is for families to go through this whole process of supporting a loved who's being treated for a substance use disorder.
I became painfully aware of:
- How much help they need in learning how to get the right treatment and use it effectively, and
- What a critical role the family can play in improving the chances for treatment success
I eventually ended up closing my treatment business and turned my attention to working specifically with families. I developed a program that guided them through the treatment process—with the focus on what they could be doing to make sure they're giving their loved one the best chance possible for treatment success.
Oh, and I wrote the book. I called it "Rehab Works! A Parent's Guide To Drug Treatment.." (Available on Amazon)
Here's an excerpt from it that speaks to the gift that comes with recovery:
Addiction causes a person to change—they’re not themselves anymore. One of the most frequent statements I hear from parents shortly after treatment has begun is, “We feel like we have our child back.” And this is only a week or two into the process. At this point they don’t realize that there’s still a lot of hard work ahead. But if they stick with it, the good they’re seeing now is just a fraction of what they will experience in time. Restored family relationships, open and honest communication, healing of longstanding resentments and other unresolved emotional issues, the regaining of trust—these are just some of the benefits of treatment. Parents see a new look of confidence and self-esteem in their child along with a remarkable display of values—respect, responsibility, and caring for others. These are all characteristics of a “recovering” person. It may sound too good to be true, but trust me, this is what happens with successful recovery.
There is a phrase around recovery circles that says it all:
“Expect a miracle.”
These three words simultaneously acknowledge the seemingly hopeless place that addiction takes the sufferer and the hope that comes with recovery. Miracles are occurring every day in treatment programs all around the world, and there is no reason that any family entering the treatment process cannot become one of them.
Now that you know the back story on how I came to write Rehab Works!, you can see how this passage represents a sort of bittersweet, story-coming-full-circle kind of circumstance: One family's story of struggle and hope inspired me to write those words, which in turn may serve to help another another family that finds itself in the same struggle and needing a little hope that they too, may be able to experience the same joy the first family did—the miracle of recovery.
"Expect A Miracle" Those words have been important to me since first day I began my own recovery journey on a very dark day in 1988. They're the first words I saw as walked into the rehab facility I was checking into. And that's the reason they're painted prominently on the wall of my own treatment facility today.
RehabWorks Family Support Program
Online education program for families substance use treatment clients
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