A story of addiction, recovery and a friendship for the ages
I got a text today from Jeremey.
Hey buddy, just wanted to let you know that I’m doing great. Love you and appreciate you.
It warmed my heart to hear from him. It also served to remind me of how much I miss my job. Two things you need to know here:
I took a hiatus (possibly for good, I just don’t know right now) from a job that I love.
Jeremey is letting me know that he is doing great not only out of friendship but over an incredible bond that we formed when I was his Case Manager at a Drug/Alcohol Recovery Center. Affectionately known as a Rehab.
When I met Jeremey he was not great. Anything but. I met him at the lowest point of his life.
It was a cold December morning when I made the 1500-yard trek to the Detox building to meet the new client assigned to me. I walked in, shook the cold off of me and went to the common area to find my Client. I called out the name and a man about my age weakly forced himself out of the deep cushion of the sofa and slowly trudged his way towards the chair I motioned for him to sit. I was amazed at the effort it took for him to get to it. Then he spoke. Over the course of the interview, as I explained our program, my role as case manager and his expectations for treatment, I must have asked him to repeat almost everything. He was too weak to speak clearly and with any volume.
What he was able to say was nothing but pure denial and resistance. The broken man before me was utilizing all the strength he had to fight me on whether he needed treatment or not. He wanted to leave after Detox, I politely suggested that a full program would do him better. I didn’t fight him. At the Detox level, that is not atypical. As they say, De-Nile (denial) ain’t just a river in Egypt.
This went on for days. Despite my requirement of seeing a client twice a week, I met with him every day. As his strength grew, so did his insistence that he didn’t have a problem. Recognizing that I had a challenge, and a chance to do some good I pushed back. Day after day. Finally, he agreed to stay for 2 weeks. This was a victory. This one became, against all judgment, personal for me.
Jeremey would fight me on everything for those 2 weeks. I dug in and challenged him. I couldn’t work harder on his recovery than he was willing to, but I really wanted to see him get better. 3 weeks became 4weeks. He began to buy in and just when I thought that the therapy sessions and meetings were working, after 4 weeks he made a huge push to leave. I worked with him more, throwing everything I knew about the model of addiction I had to have discussions. I paired him with other clients that were where I was hoping he would get to and he still wanted to leave. Finally, everything combined wore him down. He finished the program.
And in the process, we became wonderful friends. It evolved to the point that when we saw each other we would hug and often he asked how I was doing before I could ask him.
On the last day of his 9th week Jeremey left our care. The man who was too weak to speak, a disbarred lawyer and 25 year career-alcoholic whose most recent memory was waking up in his brother’s recliner (he was homeless), vomiting on himself in front of his 2 nephews, swigging a beer and passing out again, was leaving with a reservation at a Sober House, a job (we coordinated interviews while he was in rehab) and an entirely new outlook on life.
I was so proud to have been a small part of such an amazing story.
So back to the text.
We parted as amazing friends. He made a commitment to check in with me periodically, knowing that my failure to hear from him may indicate that he may have relapsed. I hadn’t heard from him in a while. To get that text means that he is still doing great.
That’s why I became a Case Manager. To become part of something like that.