Monthly Archives: March 2015

Completed Recovery Coach Training

By Aaron Emerson

If you have read any of my blogs within the last two or three weeks, you most likely know that I’ve been traveling to Midland, Michigan each weekend to undergo training to be a Recovery Coach.  Well, today I am excited to write that I have completed the training.

Recovery Coaching is a state recognized model of drug and alcohol treatment that is utilized in a non-clinical manner.  It is a strengths-based approach where a Recovery Coach works with individuals dealing with substance abuse issues by helping them build recovery plans and helping them find necessary resources within their respective community.  Drug and alcohol treatment facilities and drug and counseling agencies across the country are hiring Recovery Coaches at a rapid pace, but Recovery Coaches can also work with individuals on their own time or start their own outreach.

As of right now, I am just putting everything in God’s hands.  Whatever door he opens with my certification, that’s what I’ll do.  I would love to offer Recovery Coaching services through this outreach, so I am going to be praying about that in the next couple of weeks to see how that would play out.

At the last training session, we did a lot of role playing.  Our facilitators would give us scenarios and have each person play the role of a coach in a one-on-one setting.  We would be observed and critiqued and it was really helpful to gain that kind of experience!  We also learned a lot about motivational interviewing, a technique that can play a crucial role in working with an addict or alcoholic.

I learned a lot, got some amazing experience and have a ton of motivation to use everything to help people through my outreach.  However, I want God’s direction on how exactly to carry that out and I could use a lot of prayer.  I would greatly appreciate it if my readers would keep me in their thoughts and prayers during this next week or two!

In the meantime, I want to start coaching, so if you or somebody you know might be interested in this, give me a call at 517-763-5503.  I hope you all have a great day and week, and I will be updating you on where I want to take this!

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Letter Therapy: Writing To My Incarcerated Son

By Wes Emerson

My son Aaron is now almost two years into his recovery, with his two year anniversary approaching May 16.  Last year when we celebrated his one year anniversary, it was a satisfying experience for me, having a gathering with his siblings and their mates, as well as his girlfriend, Alison, and his recovery coach.  He requested his Dad’s barbecue chicken for the celebratory meal, and I happily obliged.  It was a great time.

But last night, as I sat in my personal sanctuary, my office at home, I found myself looking back on the painful years of Aaron’s addiction and the painful consequences that ensued.  I really can’t tell you how we as a family survived intact through those wild and crazy moments-the Lord carried us and brought us all through as a family, for sure.  For me, a Dad, one of the most painful aspects of Aaron’s drug addiction was having him separated from me and his family for long periods of time in incarceration.  I grieved for my son and I missed him.  It was a very heavy burden having him locked up.

Over the course of Aaron’s seven year struggle with drugs, he was removed from my home and incarcerated for a majority of his teen years.  Separation from his family included one full year in the Ingham County Jail, another seven months in jail, and several other shorter stays in the ICJ.  At age 17, he spent eight months in a lock-down, secure prison for youth.  This is in addition to several stays at juvenile detention centers, as well as a number of stays at various rehabs.  Due to my son’s drug problem, he was taken from us during his formative years.  He was a missing member of our close-knit family and this was extremely painful to me, his father.

During the course of his absences from our lives, one of the ways I coped as a Dad was writing to my son.  In the late night hours, as I retreated to my office, I would write to Aaron, not only in an attempt to encourage him, but also to deal with my personal pain as a father of an incarcerated addict.  Writing to Aaron was therapeutic to me as I mourned for him.  I missed him.  I hurt for him.  Aaron was not a despicable, hopeless drug user in my eyes-he was my flesh and blood.  My beloved son.  And so I reached out to him, via the pen.

Writing to Aaron made me feel close to my son, the third of my four children.  In the county jail, sealed envelopes were not permitted, and so I would write, almost daily, notes on large index cards, telling him of family news, talking of world events, discussing sports, and trying to infuse hope and inspiration to a hurting young man.  Bible verses offering hope and encouragement were frequently shared, as well as the assurance that we were praying for him.

One thing I know for sure: getting mail from loved ones and friends is precious to any inmate.  Just to know that they are not forgotten or disowned by their loved ones is priceless to a prisoner locked up due to drug offenses.  Furthermore, if you are a parent or loved one of an addict who is behind bars, keeping in communication via postcards can also be therapeutic for you, as well.  Somehow, writing to your loved one makes you feel better.

On many sad, mournful nights, I found solace in writing a note of encouragement to my son.  Writing him, in the midst of any personal pain, brought some peace to my own troubled soul.  It made me feel close to my boy, though we were separated.  I missed him terribly, but writing Aaron was comforting for me, and hopefully, encouraging to him in a dark, cruel place-the county jail.

In dealing with parents of drug addicts, I have found that some parents have turned their backs on their children.  They refuse to write or communicate with their son or daughter in any way.  Phone calls from the jail are ignored.  There are some who do not visit their loved one in jail.  Please, open your hearts to your drug addicted loved ones.  Despite their past violations of your trust, keep the door open, and do not give up on your loved one.

Through the years of Aaron’s drug addiction and numerous incarcerations, I, his Dad, left the door open.  I wrote him on a daily basis, we visited him in jail/rehab.  We refused to lose hope, and we didn’t turn our backs on him.  I, the father of a once “hopeless” heroin addict, implore you to do the same.  Aaron is approaching two years of recovery, and your loved one can do the same!  Please, do not give up hope!  If God can deliver Aaron from the chains of addiction to heroin, he can certainly deliver your son or daughter.  Keep writing, keep visiting, keep praying, keep believing!  Don’t give up and don’t lose hope!

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Sharing Addiction/Recovery at Webberville High School

It’s been a busy week or two for me.  Fortunately, I have been busy with spreading the recovery message and getting trained to further my objective in using my story to help others.  After starting my training this weekend to be a Recovery Coach, yesterday I spoke at two area high schools.

I went to DeWitt High School to speak to the 9th and 10th grade students and to Webberville High School to speak to all grades.  I shared my story of addiction and stressed the importance of remaining sober in high school.  My recovery coach and another recovering addict, Ashley, also went and shared their own personal stories.

Last month we spoke to the 11th and 12th graders at DeWitt, so this month we finished with the underclassmen.  Once again, they seemed to listen and pay attention to what we had to say.  With younger students, I try to share a little bit more about the early stages of my addiction.  Instead of talking more about my heroin usage, I went into depth more about the marijuana and prescription pill abuse.

It went great at DeWitt, but I really wanted to share about Webberville.  The students were, overall, very engaged and appreciative.  After we were done, a dozen or more students came up at different times to talk about different topics we talked about.  It was really cool seeing these young people so interested in what we had to say.  One girl came up and asked us where she could get a friend some help, and two boys were really curious about addiction and how some people get into it.  I really think it impacted them in a strong way, because their eyes got wide at times and it seemed like they got the message.

That is always the goal when sharing my story in schools like that.  I told both schools yesterday that if I could just help one student in there not have to go through what I did, then my past won’t be for nothing.  I have accepted the fact that my past is not anything to brag about, but I have also accepted the fact that God uses people with shaky pasts to show his power.  It gives me so much hope to know somebody can benefit from my addiction and recovery.

I also want to express my gratitude to both schools’ administrators.  They were all very supportive of our message and it’s comforting to know that leaders of some of our school systems acknowledge there’s a problem, because that’s the first step to prevention and treatment.

Once again, have a great day.  If you need to talk or have a question about anything, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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Recovery Coach

I am very excited to announce that I am in the process of being trained to be a Certified Recovery Coach.  The 40 hour training and certification process started this weekend and will wrap up in a couple weeks.  Recovery Coaching is a relatively new method of treating addiction and is based on the model of peer support services.  The definition of a Recovery Coach is defined by the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (the training model recognized by the state of Michigan) as “anyone interested in promoting recovery by removing barriers and obstacles to recovery by serving as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking or in recovery.”

Recovery Coaching is recognized by the State of Michigan as a non-clinical treatment method and people who want to be a recovery coach must meet certain criteria, including at least two years of solid recovery (I will have two years of recovery in May), and must receive at least 40 hours of specifically defined training.  The Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) model is what’s used and recognized in Michigan and is what I’m being trained with.

A Recovery Coach has many different ways to offer their services.  A lot of treatment centers and counseling organizations hire Recovery Coaches, and Recovery Coaches can offer their own services, as well.  I have had an outpatient treatment center offer to hire me as soon as my training is complete on a part-time basis and I am also planning to offer Recovery Coach services through this outreach (New Life Recovery).

One thing that I love about Recovery Coaching is the fact that we are trained to “meet the person where they are at.”  That means, if a person is wanting to change his life but may not be ready to commit to a full recovery process, a Recovery Coach still works with them and develops a plan to better their life and guide them to recovery based on what their goals are.  Too often, treatment providers have a thought process of “my way or the highway.”  If a client doesn’t attend 12 Step meetings and do tons of treatment goals, then they could be cut from a caseload or made to feel like they’re not doing it right.  A Recovery Coach never gives up on who they are working with and offers mentorship and guidance based on where the person is at in their recovery, and hooks them up with necessary resources.

I just wanted to update you on what I am doing and let you know that I will be able to offer Recovery Coaching in the near future.  However, I am still taking my own recovery one day at a time, so I want to assure you I will not stop working my program just because I may be helping another person develop their own.  I am so blessed with a wonderful support system, including my own recovery coach, who helps keep me in check and doesn’t allow me to isolate.  Also, I would recommend anyone who can to take this training.  Have a wonderful week and try to take advantage of each day!  Life is a blessing.

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