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TODAY news for Thursday, February 25, 2008

Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center news

Recovering chemical dependency patients celebrate new lives

Thirteen-year-old Shiane shares how her life has changed for the better as a result of her mother successfully completing the chemical dependency program at LLU Behavioral Medicine Center.
Thirteen-year-old Shiane shares how her life has changed for the better as a result of her mother successfully completing the chemical dependency program at LLU Behavioral Medicine Center.
Barrett hadn’t held his young son in eight months. He simply couldn’t manage it. He could barely even walk.

As an alcoholic, addict, and chronic pain sufferer, Barrett saw no point in living.

He shared this story during a graduation ceremony for chemical dependency patients at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC). The ceremony was held February 10—Barrett’s 201st day of sobriety.

What a difference 201 days makes. These days, Barrett experiences life with joy. He enjoys his job and gets to spend quality time with his son, to name a couple of happy examples.

“I get to be me for the first time in my life, and I love it,” he told the audience.

After Barrett, other recovering addicts spoke, and the crowd of approximately 175 friends, families, and fellow graduates also got to hear from a daughter of one of the graduates.

Thirteen-year-old Shiane shared how her life has improved as a result of her mother’s treatment.

“Today I am happy. I draw pictures that are ‘anime’ style. And they always have a smile on their face, and so do I. That is because of the BMC. The BMC helped my mother, and that helped me. I us
From left, Glenis Knight, case manager; Elaine Coyazo, CTRS, recreation therapist; and Jackie Christiansen, CADC II, applaud for former patients as they receive their certificates.
From left, Glenis Knight, case manager; Elaine Coyazo, CTRS, recreation therapist; and Jackie Christiansen, CADC II, applaud for former patients as they receive their certificates.
ed to draw dark and depressing people,” she said.

The graduation ceremony allows recovering former patients to celebrate with both their families and their former counselors. Andrew Wildasinn, CADC, passed out a certificate to each graduate and asked the family to stand to be acknowledged as well. Waiting on the other side of Mr. Wildasinn were the other counselors, who gave hugs to each of the graduates as they returned to their seats.

According to recreation therapist Elaine Coyazo, CTRS, the graduation ceremony is an opportunity for former patients and their families to celebrate not only the completion of treatment, but also recovery and a new way of life.

“It is also a chance for them to reconnect with many of their peers, who they became close to while going through the process of treatment,” she says.

“For the chemical dependency staff, it is wonderful to see so many who are doing well. Too often, the staff only see former patients if they relapse and return to treatment. This is a whole different experience which helps remind us that this disease is treatable and recovery is possible.”

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, February 25, 2008