“Will this work?” Every parent’s question. Every family wants to know if they send their child away for treatment, often for a year or more, will it be worth the great emotional and financial cost? My answer is usually; it depends. It depends on your child’s diagnosis, on your willingness to make changes in your family and if you are willing to be very flexible in your definition of success.
I was lucky enough to see that demonstrated on my last tour. I was touring a program for young men struggling with addiction when a client of mine walked in. I had to apologize because I did not recognize him, I had last seen him 4 years ago, and he had grown so much since he was 15. He is a strong young man now, a leader in his sober community. When I first met him he was in the hospital with a dangerous combination of severe impulsivity, immaturity and addiction. Everyone was deeply worried about him. He went to wilderness, and a therapeutic boarding school for a year. Although we were anxious, he came home with support.
When I saw him last month, he told me that he had relapsed at home, he woke up in the hospital after he almost died. As soon as he was alert, he asked to come back to the same folks that ran the boarding school and to continue with their young adult program, he knew he could be sober and safe with that brotherhood.
That is success. He remembered being sober, he remembered where he could be safe and what it would take, and now he is ready to embrace sobriety as his choice completely. I believe this would have been a much more dangerous and difficult journey without over a year of sober brain development and sober relationships as an adolescent; that time was key to his health and growth and, for him, impossible to do at home. This visit and reconnection reminded me why I do this work, he is so strong and humble, and I am grateful.
Clinical Gender Non-Conforming
I attended a conference on gender non-conforming clients. I learned so much, including expanding my vocabulary. I learned the current research indicates best practices treatment of transgender clients as they approach adolescence is to work with an expert in gender issues and not to “wait until their mood stabilizes.” Much of their psychic pain is due to the pubertal physical changes happening and it is possible to start with hormone blockers early. Thankfully, in Chicago, we have one of the best clinics at Lurie, run by Dr. Robert Garofalo. I also learned that these clients are at huge risk for suicide and homelessness obliging us all to treat them with the most responsive care. I was surprised by the high percentage of transgender clients who also are on the autism spectrum. It is a challenge for all of us to serve these individuals respectfully in every setting, including dorms and treatment centers, I was encouraged about the amount of attendees at this conference actively learning and problem solving so we can help more individuals.
Hold On to Your Kids
by Neufield and Mate
This book is so important. It addresses how critical it is for parents to remain the primary attachment figures in their children’s lives. It explains how our culture encourages children to depend on peers for their primary feeling of worth and that without the primacy of parental unconditional regard our children are vulnerable and at risk. I encourage everyone working with families to read this book.
Karen Mabie guided us through a scary stressful time in our son ‘s and our family’s lives, in a soothing, calm, confident way. She has a wealth of knowledge about substance abuse and the resources for treatment—schools, wilderness programs, in-patient rehab programs and after- care facilities all over the country. She found the ideal facility for my son’s recovery. After three previous rehab attempts and numerous stints in sober houses, he is sober.
Contact me anytime.