Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 18

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FEATURE

The Winding Road
to Recovery...
By: Alan Miceli, Editor

T

heo Gordon-Hardy and Kris McFadden did not expect to
leave their last recovery programs clean, sober and hopeful. Yet
that's the condition they were in when they walked out into
a world suddenly filled with promise. They each had a turnaround
triggered by their own courageous efforts, along with the prodding
of dedicated teams of doctors, counselors and peers.
Theo, as we mentioned in the previous article, went into a recovery
program to comply with the wishes of his mother's friend. He fully
expected to be able to get drugs in the program. It took him a few
days to realize that the place might offer him something else - sobriety.

"It was gradual. I had a very good counselor. I would go a little
bit forward for a day or so, then snap back, then go forward again.
It was a 50/50 situation."
Then the counselor asked Theo to try something. "He said, 'Why
don't you get honest with somebody? Call a friend or family member
and tell them exactly where you are and what drugs you've taken,
and how you feel.'
"I gave it a try. When I picked up the phone it felt like it weighed a
hundred pounds. I called another woman who was a good friend of
my mother. I told her I was at a drug and alcohol treatment center.
That I've been on heroin and other drugs, and I'm scared. I expected
her to hang up on me."
Instead, the woman told Theo how relieved she was to hear from
him. She didn't know what had happened to him, but she knew
something was wrong. Theo said the conversation helped him realize
that she really cared about him. It helped him overcome the shame
he had over his addiction.
"They're very shame-based," Maggie Batt, clinical supervisor of the
Mirmont Outpatient Center, said. "They've gone through significant
behaviors and addictions that they probably wouldn't have chosen to
engage in sober." She said they cannot recover without overcoming
18 Philadelphia Medicine : Fall 2017

that shame and the isolation that goes with it.
Kris, like Theo, did not expect to find solutions to his addiction
at his court-ordered recovery program. The program had the added
hurdle of being Christian-based. "The concept of faith was not in
my upbringing."

Willingness to Enter the Process
Kris really didn't want to stop using, but he decided to see where
the process would take him. "I did not necessarily desire change, but
I was willing to try whatever I had to try to get me out of my current
circumstances (threat of jail). Willingness to enter in the process is
not the same as having a desire to change."
Yet, his willingness to be open to the process ended up making all
the difference. He found that the level of care he was receiving in the
Teen Challenge program helped him work through the problems
that were triggering his desire for drugs. "The faith concept with
the love and compassion I was receiving along with a certain level
of clinical care as well, all caused a sort of alignment that produced
change in my life."
He also found that being with peers who were a little bit ahead of
him in the recovery process, and seemed to be doing okay, played a
crucial role in his recovery. "Those relationships are still strong today,
11 years later." They helped open Kris's eyes to something he had
not seen during his addiction - the attractiveness of sobriety. He
also began to think that becoming sober was something that was
actually attainable.

Embracing the 12 Step Program
The faith-based aspect touches on one of the things that every
program we examined had in common. Secular programs such as
Caron Treatment Centers, Mirmont Treatment Center and The
Bridge, along with Teen Challenge, see the 12 Step Program started



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