Half a decade ago, I started working on a hotline to help
addicts and their families find drug addiction treatment
centers. Thousands of calls later, I still remember the
first time I picked up the line.
I could hardly make out
what the woman on the other end was saying to me. Shelly
(not her real name) was sobbing. She had just arrived at her
father’s apartment and had found him passed out cold on the
couch with a needle still sticking out of his arm. Why she
called our line instead of 9-1-1 was a mystery. I called for
an ambulance and waited on the phone with her until they
arrived. She told me how her father had been a construction
worker, though his dream was to play guitar in a band.
Shelly said her parents split up when she was thirteen
because of her dadâEUR(TM)s drinking. He moved away to live in
another state for a couple of years and they began to lose
touch. He would send the occasional card or make a call on
her birthday the first couple of years, but that eventually
ended. After college, Shelly decided to find her dad. It
turned out that he had moved back and was living just a
couple of miles from where she grew up.
Somewhere along the way, he had picked up a heroin habit. Shelly tried to talk him into going to treatment, but he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t. Shelly said she visited him weekly, helped him keep his apartment up, bought his groceries and kept after him to quit. She said she they had just talked the night before and that he had, for the first time, agreed to
try treatment. On my end, I could hear the ambulance
approaching and then a knock on the door. Shelly hung up and
I never heard from her again.
Today in America, there are 13 million people in need of
alcohol or drug addiction treatment. Fortunately, according
the government, there are just over 13,000 drug addiction
treatment centers waiting to help these individuals. It may
have been too late for Shelly’s dad, I don’t know, but I do
know that it is not too late for anyone who is looking for a
drug addiction treatment center today.
Each year millions of people across America, enter treatment
centers. For many, this marks a fresh start, a rebirth. It
is an opportunity to rebuild broken relationships and broken
lives. Those who successfully complete rehab join a recovery
community that is already millions strong.