An Open Letter

-Mariel S.

“Recovery is an ongoing process, for both the addict and his or her family. In recovery, there is hope. And hope is a wonderful thing.”
~ Dean Dauphinais


This is an open letter to anyone thinking about seeking help for substance use disorders. Maybe you’ve been here before. Maybe you haven’t. What we need to say to you is so simple, but please hear us. Your recovery matters. Seek the help – if not for only for you, also for us. Is it selfish of us to ask? No. Because we ALL deserve the life recovery offers us.

We understand. We really do. Because we’ve been there with our loved one. He began drinking and using drugs when he was 14 – long before we were part of his life. His first serious treatment and period of recovery was in his early 20s. We hadn’t met yet. He relapsed. We hadn’t met yet. He went through another serious treatment program and as a result, found himself in recovery, supported by his counselors in pursuing a college degree. That’s where we met. 28 years ago.

Over the years, we went through several periods of recovery and several heartbreaking relapses. We always knew when he was headed for relapse, because he became a different person in the days and sometimes weeks before he actually took the first drink. Recovery was a joy – not unrealistically, not every moment, but the entire feel of our life was lighter. He was so much more during those times – happier, more optimistic, more resilient in bouncing back from disappointments. Recovery was a state of mind – not of ingestibles – in our house. The angrier, the sadder he got, not in the moment, but in every moment, the closer we got to relapse. And I mean we. It is a family disease. My children and I were dragged in the wake of it all, often as helpless as he was. And we made mistakes – we were imperfect in how we handled the disease and our own emotions. We as a family didn’t seek the help WE needed and we did not educate ourselves as soon as we could have. (Side note – encourage your family to seek help too – good treatment programs like Pavillon include family programs and can be the best of help in whole family support)

But the important this is that we tried. In time, one relapse became so bad that it ended our marriage. He lost his job, his home, his wife and his children. And we lost him. Although the marriage could never be repaired, in subsequent periods of recovery he was able to maintain a good relationship with his son. He made a new home with a girlfriend who cared deeply for him. That matters.

I speak in the past tense because he died this past September. His disease took him. But I don’t want to talk about sadness and despair. I want to talk about hope. I want to tell you that it matters and you matter. Everytime he went back for help, we had hope. Hope matters. When he passed away, he had just entered a treatment program. (It wasn’t Pavillon, although I truly wish it had been.) My children know their father was on a path to happiness in recovery again. That matters. He had found himself in the slide into despair and he was actively seeking help to get back to that place of light in recovery. That matters.

There is so much my children want to say to you. Most of all – you matter. Find every and any avenue to recovery and fight to find that place in the light because you deserve it and because we want to join you there. Do not fear treatment – embrace it. Because you matter to us. However angry and sad we are in a given moment, we find hope in your steps forward. Give us a chance by giving yourself a chance.