This is the story of one young man’s willingness to get help, and the three women with the determination to find him that help. Picture it: The year was 2017, the month June. Three women with no prior relationship or association are brought together by the sheer desperation of one young man. It all started with a young girl. That young girl saw that her boyfriend needed help. He was going down a bad path and it was terrifying to watch. She turned to the one person everyone turns to in their hour of need: her mother. Let’s call her Karen. Karen and her daughter sought advice on how to get treatment for this young man by someone who had been through it more times than she cared to discuss: me. They wanted to know how to get him help, where to go, what to say, who to tell and what they should expect. The young man’s situation was sad. Parents that had trouble of their own, and his feeling like he is floundering through life. Karen took him under her wing and was willing to do whatever it took to help him. I gave them the information I had, and I told them I would help however I could but when they left my house I felt sad for them. I know what it is like to be at the beginning of this journey preparing to discover the world of addiction.
A few weeks later I received a call from Karen saying that he was willing to go to treatment but she didn’t know what the next step is. This is where everything became a mess. For me, I was the parent. I was JoDee’s mother and it made it easier for me to drag her to the hospital for medical clearance, to call insurance companies, to call detoxes for her and eventually pack her drugged-up ass to deposit at a facility. That challenge is exaggerated 100% when the child is not your own. With her own child in crisis, Karen managed to get him to the hospital for medical clearance. Of course, nothing is ever easy. He was discharged with the hospital telling him that he wasn’t “addicted enough” to meet the protocol for detox. He didn’t have enough drugs in his system, and cocaine didn’t qualify for detox. Imagine? Sorry, son, your drug habit isn’t bad enough. Go out and fuck up your life worse and then come back for help. For some reason helping an addict before they are at the brink of death is frowned upon.
Undaunted Karen did not give up. She fought with the hospital, she argued with the social worker and as a last resort she called me. It infuriates me that an addict has to have a village of people in his corner to get help. It is infuriating that this boy would have left the hospital to go home to a questionable environment because he wouldn’t have known how to fight for or ask for more help without having people in his corner to tell him how to do it. So, I did the only thing I know how to do when looking for a bed in a crisis- called the people that helped me with JoDee. I immediately reached out to two individuals whose organizations have helped JoDee many times, Nicole White from The Process Recovery and Matt Ganem from Banyan Recovery Center . Neither of them could take his insurance (which is another whole nightmare) but they put me in touch with organizations that could. Nicole gave me the number of a Maureen Cavanaugh with Magnolia New Beginnings.
Magnolia is a non-profit organization that offers many different services and much needed help navigating through the recovery world. Founded by Maureen, this organization provides something invaluable- understanding. As a parent that has tried to maneuver the landmines of insurance companies, case managers, detoxes, rehab and all the different agencies I can tell you I wished I had this service. It is impossible to know what to do. Finding out your child is an addict is heartbreaking and shocking and there is no time to take a moment to let it sink in. Magnolia New Beginnings is designed to help the addicts find treatment, with scholarships for programs not otherwise available to them and by working with other programs like Process for continued care. It also provides support services for family members. Rise Above, a sober living program with multiple locations, works with Magnolia to assist addicts with scholarships on move-in fees and weekly rent if they financially qualify. Process and Banyan both provide recovery programs that are abstinence and 12-step program based. Both are residential programs with the idea of continued recovery in mind aiding in transitioning an addict back into society.
Over the next twenty four hours, while Karen managed inpatient help for her daughter, the three of us text or called each other at least a million times exploring every avenue possible for a bed for him. I am pretty sure between the three of us we called ever detox or dual diagnosis unit in Massachusetts. The young man was losing hope and getting more desperate as the time went by with no bed. He was emotional, distraught and questioning a system that made it so difficult for someone to get help. His exact words were “it shouldn’t be this hard”. He is right. But a flawed system is what we had to deal with and it is the only system we have. Karen and Maureen made an incredible team not wavering until he was head in a bed. We all know it is up to him now, and only he can write the future but I was honored and grateful to be part of a network that truly moves mountains to help someone in need. Before he needed help I didn’t know either of these women, but now I think they are my new BFF’s.
For information on any of the organizations mentioned in this post, or to make a donation (Magnolia is completely volunteer staff. Donations go to help addicts with scholarships, treatment and family support services), please click the links below: