No Longer Wasting Time Derrick Thompson (a fictitious name) was a revolving client. He entered treatment at EmberWood Center at age 16, and was back several times, working with various counselors. Adolescent Counselor Bryan wondered if anything he was saying to Derrick was “sinking in.” His situation matched the very typical profile of many of our clients … impoverished, not in school, limited or minimal structure at home, spending time on the streets, and committing crimes … in other words, disenfranchised. By age 17, when Derrick returned again, Bryan discovered that his efforts had indeed had a positive effect. In addition, EmberWood Center now had a Case Aide, Andrew, whose role was to engage clients in the community. Andrew stepped in and was able to give Derrick something foreign to his nature: time and support. When Bryan started working with Derrick, his screens indicated he was using marijuana. Gradually, the screens were improving, until, finally, they showed all drug use had stopped. While in treatment, the house Derrick was living in with his mother burned down. With no money and nowhere to stay, his mother was forced to move to Tennessee. Derrick wanted to remain in Indianapolis and stay in treatment, as his counselor had talked with him about a plan to get a job. He stayed with an aunt, briefly, while Andrew was able to secure him a spot in a nearby agency for homeless teenagers. Says Andrew, “I fell in love with his struggle.” Derrick expressed a need to advance – he constantly identified his triggers (situations that cause individuals to relapse) as 1) not having any money, 2) being bored, and 3) peer pressure to use – all conditions for which employment would be the perfect solution. Together with Derrick, Bryan and Andrew developed a plan for him to pursue Job Corps. Andrew was able to connect him with an admissions counselor. And, together, they surmounted numerous hurdles, such as having to get Derrick a photo ID card, a social security card, his birth certificate, school transcripts, and run a criminal background check. Andrew accompanied Derrick to all the necessary places. Once these items were secured, they went to see the admissions counselor. Andrew coached Derrick to prepare him for the interview, teaching him how to interact respectfully, what to say, and how to sell himself. He was careful not to try to change Derrick. According to Andrew, “Derrick’s struggles had caused him to develop the ability to absorb massive amounts of pressure and stress. I wanted to help him see how that quality could be put to positive use.” Andrew was able to get Derrick to truly think about why he wanted a chance at this opportunity. What would he do if he got this opportunity? How would his life be different? With program funds, Bryan bought Derrick the appropriate clothing. Andrew also took Derrick to a shopping outlet to buy wardrobe basics he would need while living independently. Needless to say, Derrick aced the interview and was invited to enroll in the residential program. The big moving day arrived. After graduating from EmberWood Center’s 16-week “Street Alternatives” program, Derrick had eventually gone down to Tennessee to live with his mother, and showed tremendous dedication by taking the bus back up to Indianapolis to transition to his new life in Job Corps (EmberWood Center had sent him a Greyhound ticket). Andrew met him at the bus station, and various EmberWood staff donated more clothes for him to wear while at Camp Atterbury. Before his departure, Andrew took him out to lunch and then to the bus station. Derrick has been enrolled in Job Corps a little over a month now, in a welding program. He is in school and has tutors for math and reading. Derrick reports that … to his amazement, he loves being in a daily routine, and he says he likes welding. He gets up at 6 AM, has school until 3 o’clock, goes to welding workshop until 8 PM, and then plays basketball and lifts weights. When Andrew asked Derrick how he felt, mentally, he said he feels more ambitious. He takes pride in what he does. Derrick is a changed young man, but actions speak louder than words: He not only visited EmberWood Center staff on his holiday break, but he chose to return from break early to Camp Atterbury, saying there was nothing for him in the streets anymore. He’s no longer wasting time.
Cindy sought help from EmberWood Center after experiencing continued family relationship issues. Her teenage children all had numerous legal problems and her daughter kept running away from home. Although Cindy received help from several different organizations, one theme that continued to surface was Cindy’s own alcohol use. While in treatment for alcohol dependence at EmberWood Center, she recognized that she was using alcohol to cope with previous traumatic experiences in her life. She also identified that she was sabotaging her family’s future with her alcohol consumption. Cindy entered EmberWood Center and agreed to alternative care situations for her children that would strengthen them as individuals. Our counselors helped Cindy to identify and begin working on future goals for herself. After successfully completing her treatment program, Cindy is no longer using alcohol, she is taking computer classes, and she will soon be ready for job-placement services. She is optimistic about her future and her family is positive about what the future holds for them, as well.
“The Path is a Spiritual Path…”
Al entered EmberWood Center ‘s outpatient treatment program dependent on cocaine, which he had battled for decades. Al completed formal substance abuse treatment once before, while in prison for cocaine-related charges. He successfully achieved complete sobriety while in prison four years, as well as the first seven years after being released. Upon release, Al began rebuilding his life around sobriety. He created his own business, started attending church regularly, and found a healthier peer group. However, he slowly found himself and his lifestyle spiraling back into unhealthy patterns. Al began dating someone who did not attend church. Eventually he also stopped attending. Al successfully abstained from cocaine an additional four years, but began drinking alcohol and using marijuana. He started hanging out with a different crowd of people. Fifteen years after successfully quitting cocaine, Al used again when he started dating someone who also used cocaine. He lost his business. Eventually, dealing drugs became necessary just to make ends meet. One day, Al found himself on his knees praying to God to help him out of the mess his life had become. A week later, on October 26, 2005, Al was arrested for dealing. That day was the last time Al used… Al voluntarily checked himself into EmberWood Center’s outpatient treatment program. He recognized the impact his drug lifestyle had on his life and his family. He shared openly with his primary counselor about his past. Al began making strong strides toward overcoming his addiction. Through his efforts in treatment, Al was able to completely change his way of thinking and learn new and healthier ways of coping with stress and conflict in his life. Al learned the “psychology of addiction,” and admitted for the first time in his life that he was an addict. He never missed a single individual counseling or group session, and successfully graduated the program 12 weeks later. At the urging of his primary counselor and other staff at the agency, Al became a volunteer at EmberWood Center, facilitating two social support groups. For Al, facilitating group was a way of giving back; but more importantly, it was an effective way to renew his spirit. Volunteering at EmberWood Center was Al’s way of staying “plugged in to the Source.” Recovery is a long and difficult road for anyone to travel. Despite successful, extended periods of sobriety, relapse can occur, a fact to which Al can readily attest. Courageously, Al took the essential steps on the life path of recovery. His tenacity and daily victories ensured that his was a long and safer journey on the road of recovery! -
Mike came to EmberWood Center‘s outpatient program as an embittered 28-yearold. He was on probation in Marion and Hancock counties for “Receiving Stolen Property” during a two year cocaine binge. Mike talked about how he and his best friend smoked their way through a $250,000 insurance settlement. Mike was living at a local work release center and holding down a full-time job. Mike saw the court-ordered treatment at EmberWood Center as one more way “the system” was intruding on his life, and he let his position be known by saying, “I’m managing my life just fine – if everyone else would just get out of the way.” The Intensive Outpatient Program at EmberWood Center required Mike to attend group three times a week and have regular individual counseling. This was in addition to keeping probation appointments in two different counties. Early in treatment, Mike was all too willing to let his counselor know what a “…royal pain” this all was. In spite of all the demands placed on him, Mike made sure that he made regular phone calls to his two daughters; staying close to them was really important to him. In time, Mike began to take pleasure in the ritualized practice of “checking-in, naming a feeling word and reading the warm-up question” which began each of his Stages of Change group. Not long after that, he began helping new group members through the check-in process. Mike’s progress in treatment was most evident when he told the group that it was his good fortune to be arrested during his cocaine binge. He credits his arrest with saving his life. In May 2005, with his freshly developed continuing care plan in hand, Mike turned to his counselor and extended his hand, saying “Thanks for not giving up on me.”
Martial Arts: A Different Path to Success
The Confidence Club has had a formative and positive influence on the life of a talented young athlete, Czarnest Dela Cruz. Czarnest was recently invited to represent the Club in Colorado Springs at the Junior National Team Trials in April of this year. His success comes as no surprise to others in the Club, knowing that he has been training in Tae Kwon Do under such skilled practitioners as Johnny Kidd (who will be accompanying Czarnest to Colorado) and Shahona Rogers, other Confidence Club success stories. Johnny, 19, and Shahona, 21, are no strangers to championships. In 2001, Johnny placed in the 27th U.S. National Tae Kwon Do Championship. In April of 2003, Shahona won a silver medal in the junior state championship at the Indiana State Tae Kwon Do Tournament. Championships, however, are only part of the rewards that Johnny and Shahona have received as members of the Confidence Club. Both agree that one of the main rewards is the family atmosphere that exists there. According to Shahona, “The people here are like one big family.” Though Shahona believes that Tae is an art form that involves some individuality, both she and Johnny agree that it is also a team effort. “When someone’s in the ring,” explains Johnny, “we always have team members there to watch and push them forward beyond where they might have gone individually.” Johnny has been experiencing this type of sportsmanship for 13 years, and Shahona for six years. Johnny credits his motivation to continue competing to his desire to exceed in all that he does. He says, “I look forward to seeing what I can do and going even higher.” Both Johnny and Shahona say the competitiveness is physically and emotionally demanding: “You have to give 100 percent; otherwise, there’s no use in being here,” explains Shahona. Shahona became involved in Tae Kwon Do through her mother, who was a friend of Sandy Wright, Administrator for the Confidence Club. Johnny’s interest developed in the first grade, when the Confidence Club started a program at his school. Following that introduction, he saw a competition on television, and his father signed him up for classes. Despite the length of his involvement in the Confidence Club, Johnny denies ever wanting to give it up. He states, “Tae is a big part of my life, I can’t be without it.” Shahona admits, “There’ve been times I’ve been frustrated with myself, but if you can work past that, then you’ll know it’s always going to be a part of your life. It’s a sport that permeates every part of your life, like learning self-control, self-discipline, and how to achieve goals. It has impacted my schooling.” Shahona is currently in her senior year in college, where she is majoring in Forensics. Johnny is a freshman at Herron School of Art and is majoring in Art Education. When asked if they have ever experienced failure with competing, both Johnny and Shahona feel that they have not. “As long as you give your best,” says Johnny, “you’ve achieved your goal.” With regard to the subject of steroid abuse in competitive sports, neither Shahona nor Johnny take the issue lightly: “I don’t understand,” says Shahona, “how someone can find their achievement rewarding when they …didn’t work hard for it, but used drugs instead. I would find it shameful.” Johnny adds, “I don’t see how someone can not put in the work and then feel happy by just popping pills. That would be failure to me.” What would life be like without the Confidence Club and involvement in Tae Kwon Do? “I don’t want to imagine,” says Shahona. “I feel like life would be empty … I don’t know what I’d do.” Johnny concurs, stating, “It would be empty. If I didn’t have somewhere to come relax, I don’t know what I’d do. The combination of my dad and here has kept me in line. If you don’t have heart for this, you won’t make it. Our instructor, John Wright, always says you have to kick with your heart and not your feet.”