Family First Health’s Center of Excellence, substance use treatment program provides patients with substance use disorders the support they need to reach, and maintain recovery. Our team links patients to community resources/support services, then walks alongside each patient to ensure that critical needs are met and that the patient remains in care for as long as needed. The goal – to give each patient the supports needed to get, and stay healthy. Call us at 717-801-4864.
It started in college. It was fun, it was with the frat brothers, and it was an escape. The nursing program was hard, then came the new wife, and not long after, a baby girl. They were young and life was stressful. First, it was just alcohol but then he started dabbling with pills. It was especially easy to sneak those as an R.N. in the hospital. He got caught, was asked to resign, and came clean with the family. There was anger, confusion, sadness, depression – and then the cycle started all over again, for all of us.
I was that baby girl, so I guess you could say that I’ve never known a father not in recovery. There have been many times when I’ve taken a step back and looked at my father, my family, and these cycles, and I think “this isn’t my family, this can’t be happening.” I grew up in a solidly middle-class privileged white family. We moved from the city to the suburbs, I took ballet classes, we went on vacations, and always had two working cars. Two more kids came along, my younger brothers, who I adore. We also had this secret. This giant elephant in the room, but let’s just go along like normal, keep our eyes straight ahead and hope for the best. We can’t let the boys know what’s happening, they’re too young.
Things settle down until another cycle begins. One of my brothers was diagnosed with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 10. Stress goes up and here we go again. This time the boys know something is wrong and I tell Dad that he has to come clean with them. He does and now they’ve joined the rollercoaster too. I’m more sad for them than any of us. I want to protect them, I want to be there for Mom, I want to make Dad get the help he needs, and I want to be this stone cold support system for everyone. It just doesn’t work that way.
He pulled it together after that, for a good long time, nearly 20 years. I could blame this last cycle on the back surgeries he desperately needed. I know he’s in pain and I know how hard this is for him while in recovery. Then comes the cop knocking on my parent’s door with a subpoena for Dad. He’d been calling in fake prescriptions – and so the cycle rolls.
I wish I had a fairy tale ending for this story, but recovery is hard and it’s different for everyone. All I want is for my Dad to be well. I wish he didn’t have to fight and I wish that I wasn’t angry with him the times he gave up on the fight. Recovery isn’t just once and done, it’s forever and it effects the whole family. No matter where you are in the cycle and whether you are someone in recovery yourself or a family member that’s recovering with a loved one, get help. There are many options for treatment so find what works for you to help stop the cycle of addiction. You don’t have to do it alone.
Shannon L. McElroy, Family First Health Marketing and Outreach Coordinator