By Pamela Garber
I once watched a family pleading in unison, begging my supervisor for help. Repeatedly, they asked him why he wouldn’t readmit their son for inpatient treatment. In my head, I tried to solve the puzzle of what was going on. Money? The family had plenty of money and was willing to pay anything to get the son into a drug and alcohol facility. Bed space? Our facility had several vacancies. Liability? This was rehab, and everything was a liability all day long, every day. The family eventually left my supervisor’s office, and he shut the door behind them, sat down at his desk, swiveled his chair around and faced me.
“How much do you hate me right now?” He waited as I struggled with balancing my desire to be honest and my goal of maintaining employment. My supervisor continued, “It’s getting really ugly now. He’s getting worse. Possibly hitting bottom. Until he does that, we can’t help him, and helping him any sooner will only hurt in the long run, because he’ll wind up right back in the same mess again.”
It took me some time, but I eventually got it. Helping too soon hurts the patient. Getting worse means a chance for getting better. Getting worse pushes transparency to the floor, center stage — making reality face exposure. Motives, alliances, underhanded dealings, and shady enabling resources become shared knowledge of secrets only in the past. I learned it irrevocably then that hitting bottom bleeds out all secrecy. Killing secrecy and cover-ups is the answer to recovery, and that hitting bottom takes time. more