Members of The Healing Place’s Board of Directors recently attended a Board Day of Service, where they learned more about the disease of addiction, as well as getting to know what happens inside The Healing Place every day. They attended Thursday staff meeting, in which clients present their plan of action of what they will do, where they will live, etc. after completing the program, answer any questions about their plan, and listen to feedback from staff member and peer mentors. Board members also took part in an informational scavenger hunt to find out what happens in the Detox, Off-the-Streets, Phase, and Continuing Care portions of the program.
I have been on the Board at The Healing Place since 2008, joining just before we broke ground on the Women’s Campus on 15th Street. My family and I moved to Louisville in 2001 and I seemed to spend the first six years in town traveling a lot for work, growing my career, and raising a young family. I was introduced to The Healing Place by a friend who knew that I was looking for an impactful way to give back to the community. What she didn’t know is that my family has a history of addiction and that I care deeply for those who are working to break free of its grip.
During our Board Day of Service, we learned more about the evolutionary aspect of the disease. One part that hit me was the connection between bipolar disorder and alcoholism. I lived through the destruction of how untreated bipolar disorder can ruin a career, a marriage, and a parent-child relationship. The similarities of how drugs and alcohol can destroy the lives of the addicted, their relationships with spouses, children, parents, and employers made perfect sense. I just never linked the two. I knew when my dad was in a manic phase, he abused alcohol. Getting a little glimpse into how the brain works from Dr. Quinn Chipley helped me understand a bit more about the linkages of bipolar and addiction.
My first impression of the petitioning process was how intimidating it is. Clients come in and share their plan, defend their dreams, and discuss their future with such an intimidating crowd which is judging their every word! I learned that the “judges” care deeply about every single client who is petitioning. The questions asked of each person were a huge bear hug, wrapping strong arms of support to help these clients progress in their recovery. One takeaway from the process is that no one can fool the group. At all. Staff members joked that they have “Master’s degrees in lying” before turning their lives around and could detect a “third grade lie” the moment it was told. It would be rare for someone to leave the meeting fooling themselves or trying to fool those in the circle. During our scavenger hunt, we learned that one you earn Silver Chip status, meaning completion of the program, you are connected to Phase II, or Continuing Care, forever. The love and support does not stop after your next few months in the program. Based on the long-running success of The Healing Place program, that is a lot of Silver Chippers who can walk in seeking support at any time!
Since I have been on the Board for seven years, I thought I knew The Healing Place pretty well; but I did learn quite a few things that I did not know about the program. Clients work tremendously hard on the road to recovery – and they help each other succeed. Another thing I learned is that in Detox on each campus there is a board featuring pictures of those who had sought help for their addiction, but ended up losing their lives. This board is not only a harsh reminder of one of the consequences of addiction, but it is a connecting tool for stories of hope for others, reminding those in the program of the impact they have on other clients and their families. My final takeaway from the Board Day of Service is that until you walk through The Healing Place as a client, you don’t truly understand its magic and power. I’m so grateful that this exercise was created while I am still on the Board. What an amazing way to spend a few hours!
Posted on August 14, 2015
by Marla Highbaugh filed under