The Third Memo I Received—From a Treatment Center

April 5, 2024

My book Dear Family, Why Your Loved One Won’t Accept Help and How To Help Them Anyway, is now available for pre-order! In the lead-up to its launch, I’m sharing the five “memos” that I got from the Universe that led to the founding of Tipping Point Recovery and the work we do.

The first memo came from a police chief and was about doing everything differently. The second memo came from the chief of physicians who agreed to change the question.

Today I’m sharing the third memo, which came from the head of a treatment center.

The Third Memo

Months into this two-year grant that had me going into the ER any time there was a non-fatal overdose, we had changed the question we were asking patients, and I was engaging nearly 100% of them. (By “engaging” I mean they were willing to speak with me and were willing to continue speaking with me once discharged.) 

One day the head of a treatment center reached out to me. Having heard about the results we were getting in the ER, he asked if I would run a training for the clinicians at his facility.

I remember thinking, “You want me to do what?”

I had this hierarchy in my mind of the levels of clinician: assistant clinician, then clinician, then supervisor, then head clinician. I thought only a head clinician would train other clinicians. 

I wasn’t a clinician at all, yet this person was asking me to train clinicians. There were 50 clinical staff working at this treatment center, and I was two, maybe three years sober, working in the ER doing overdose intervention.

I asked him, “What do you want me to train your clinicians on?”

He replied, “Train them on how you’re engaging so many people in the ER.”

What does this imply?

What does it mean when an addiction treatment center asks for training on how to engage patients?

It told me that he knew there was a piece missing in the current approach, and based on my success in the ER, he believed I could shed a light on what that piece might be.

It frankly left me a bit bewildered, not for the first time during this grant. I felt like the newbie in the group, still relatively early into recovery, and there were people who’d been helping others for a long while asking me to train clinicians.

I couldn’t help but feel a little like How am I the expert here? 

But then it hit me. I am the expert here. I had a perspective on addiction that none of them did. I had lived it. It opened my eyes to the massive gap that exists between the systems aimed at helping people recover and the actual solution. The tools and knowledge recovering people have about our disease that no one else was seeming to have.

I was going to AA meetings at the time, held in dark church basements, and I remember looking up at the little window in the church and wondering, Why doesn’t the world know what we’re learning in here? 

That’s what I do now—teach you what is really going on with addiction.

It all started because I was paying attention to these memos, the third of which came from a treatment center.

I did lead that training. It was the first workshop I ever put together. I stood in front of those 50 clinicians, feeling very nervous with my slide presentation and literally talked about how I was engaging people in the ER.

It helped me to realize that the way we’re currently operating is missing a big, giant piece, and I wanted to close that gap.

It was the fourth memo I received from a pair of grandparents that helped give me the courage to believe I could. Click here to read it.

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