KEVIN & SUSAN – Finding Joy in Recovery

Dustin, the son of Kevin and Susan S.

Dustin, the son of Kevin and Susan S., came to Turnbridge’s extended care program after undergoing detox and successfully completing a 28-day residency at Father Martin’s Ashley in Maryland. The effects of addiction and substance abuse do not simply stop with the user. Kevin and Susan have undergone their own struggles during Dustin’s ordeal. According to Susan, Dustin’s high school years were “difficult,” only to become more so during his time away at college. “We knew that there was something off,” Susan said. “We had him see various counselors and doctors, but no one ever discovered that he had an addiction.” Dustin spent a total of three semesters before leaving college in Florida and returning home to New Hampshire. “He saw an academic counselor once a week,” Susan said. “He wanted to do well but just couldn’t perform.” Kevin and Susan have since learned that the usage of alcohol and marijuana was prevalent throughout Dustin’s high school and college years, and the substance abuse progressively got worse. Dustin began self-medicating with Adderall and he later received a legal prescription. “I supported that at first, before I had any idea he was in the throes of addiction” Susan said. “When using Adderall as prescribed, he was able to focus better and read for long periods of time.” When he went down to Florida for school, Dustin also had problems with Xanax. Drug use significantly impacted his ability to manage all areas of his life: school, work and the tasks of daily living. He moved back home with Kevin and Susan just before Christmas in 2010 and began working at a local company that also employed his father. “He was enthusiastic and grateful but never performed,” Susan said. In February 2011, Susan and her husband were planning a move and she told Dustin that he had several months to save the money required to live on his own and become independent. At this point, opiates entered the picture. Dustin assured his parents that he was saving the money for an apartment, but when the time came, Dustin ended up living with the family of one of his friends. “We began to suspect that there was something serious wrong, possibly drugs. We started to confront him calmly but he was very good at covering it up.” According to Susan, Dustin said that the drugs and alcohol have always run havoc in his life but it was the opiates and “benzos” that forced him to seek help. “He lived with friends from the end of May [2011] until the beginning of August,” Susan said. “He called one day sounding destitute and asked if he could come back home. Again, at that point, we had no idea that he was using drugs. It came to a point where his life just became completely unmanageable. He came to me and said, ‘the reason why I’ve had these problems is that I have a problem with drugs.’ It was shocking for me to hear but it all made sense in retrospect.” Once Susan and Dustin had this conversation, the family quickly proceeded in their attempt to help Dustin overcome his addiction. “We became educated,” Susan said. “We saw counselors. Dustin did his detox at home. He tried staying away from the friends that he used with and we invited people over who were in recovery and they talked about the importance of programs like AA.” During the initial period of detox and recovery, Dustin was adamant about going through the process on his own, without any outside help. Susan learned that there was nothing she could do until Dustin was ready to accept professional treatment. Susan and her husband hired an interventionist, and they began covertly planning Dustin’s trip to Father Martin’s Ashley. According to Susan, this was a “very dramatic and grim time”, but it gave them the courage to say to Dustin: “move out or go to a 28-day rehab program.” “It was very difficult for Dustin,” Susan said. “He wanted help but the disease pulled him back. He was scared; we were all scared.” Once Dustin agreed to enroll in Father Martin’s Ashley, the family flew with him down to Maryland to begin his 28-day treatment. “Everything that transpired there was truly a miracle,” Susan said. As Dustin neared the end of his 28 days, the counselors recommended that he enroll in an extended care program to help with his long-term recovery. “Dustin was not happy with that. We looked at two or three, and chose Turnbridge because it was far enough away from New Hampshire but close enough to my parents so that he would have some support close by. It was a rough transition and there were a lot of dark days but we stuck with it. He stayed in Turnbridge 11 months. The fact that the staff at Turnbridge had all been through it themselves had a lot of impact. They had the perspective of “I’ve been there, I’ve lived this.” At some point in early 2012, Dustin surrendered to the process and positive changes began happening. His sleep pattern started improving and his brain began to heal. Throughout the ordeal, Susan had her fair share of ups and downs. “It was a roller coaster,” she said. “One of the saddest moments for me before treatment, was when I realized that the days he seemed communicative, happy and normal, were the days that he was using. The days when he was depressed and angry were the days that he wasn’t using.” Despite the deep sadness, there were several high points throughout Dustin’s struggle. With the help of Turnbridge staff, Al-Anon, and the family seminars offered at Center for Change, Kevin and Susan have experienced the joy that comes with the early recovery of a loved one. Dustin completed the Turnbridge program in October 2012, but remains in contact with several of the case managers there. He now lives in his own apartment in New Hampshire and has returned to work. According to Susan, “it is like meeting him again for the very first time.”