AS SEEN THROUGH A MOTHER'S EYES
A personal story from our Clinical Director, Debi Bradley
It was never supposed to be like this. As a mother, I was sure I did everything right. My children were raised in a two parent household. My husband and I never fought in front of our children, in fact we were happy, and we are still together to this day. I was always with my children, attended all of the school activities, payed for private schools, and went to church. You name it, we did it. We offered our children the best of everything. There wasn't any trauma or violence that they were exposed to. We loved them, we supported them, we protected them. What did we do that caused both of our children to become addicts? We were and are good parents.
After many years, I finally learned that it wasn't our fault. I learned that addiction is a disease. Addiction has been classified as a disease since the 1950s. Yet, people stigmatize, look down upon, and look at addicts as if it is their fault. I have lost contact with my only sibling because of his views that it was somehow our fault, somehow we did something wrong, somehow this disease has no merit. This disease killed our mother.
My story is a personal one affecting both of my children. In some way, by the grace of God, I find myself one of the lucky ones. At least my children are still alive.
I was a very successful Real Estate Broker. As I tried to hold it together, I watched my family implode. I kept feeling like God was calling me to do more, learn more, help more, and speak up. I wanted to give addicts a voice! Addicts just like my son and daughter.
At 55 years old, I went back to school and started a new career. Even though I have extensive experience through living with addiction my entire life, I now hold a Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Science. I am MATS Certified (Medication Assisted Treatment Specialist). I am now a Behavioral Health Therapist/Addictions Counselor working in a Methadone Clinic. Yes, you read that right, working in a Methadone Clinic!
When I applied for the job, I asked God, "Please don't let that Methadone clinic call me!" I wasn't sure if I believed in Methadone treatment. So, when I got the call, I took the job I didn't want, but at least I would be helping addicts. I had an opinion of a Methadone clinic formed in my head with any real knowledge of how it worked. I can now say I have an opinion based on facts and not stigma.
I have witnessed people come back to life on MMT. Bottom line - it saves lives! It is incredibly good, and it is incredibly bad. Let me explain what I mean... The treatment and the medication works. It is life changing. Unfortunately there is still a stigma associated with methadone due to a lack of understanding and sometimes due to the treatment of patients by the actual clinics themselves. Addiction is recognized by medical professionals as a true disease and should be treated as such. The failures come in when it is the product of greedy clinic owners. Some clinics are managed to only focus on the profit and look at the person as a number. I believe that if the patient was not afraid to walk into that door to begin with, a clinic could help more people. I hear it all the time, "I'm afraid of methadone because I don't want to get stuck." There aren't currently any regulations against that. If the patients are handled properly from the beginning, the patients get stable, get the counseling they need, get their life back, and could start the process of coming off MMT if the patient chooses to. Don't get me wrong, some patients will be on MMT for a lifetime, and that's okay too, but that should be completely the patient's decision. Most of them are professionals, nurses, general managers, business owners, truck drivers, you name it. Contrary to what most people believe, most addicts are extremely intelligent and can be very successful. Addiction doesn't have a certain look.
Some of our patients are people that have had a back surgery, a car accident, debilitating arthritis, etc. These are the people that the doctors prescribed 120+ Lortabs each month and then they were referred to pain management clinics. As the crackdown on pain management clinics began, they were left addicted and sick without anywhere to go. These are upper, middle, and lower class people. Addiction doesn't discriminate! You simply cannot "just quit" when your body and brain have become completely dependent on opiates to function. The patients are not here to get high, that stage passed a long time ago, they are here to repair brain function and gain their quality of life back.
With that said, God has led me and my daughter here. To creating and owning our own Methadone clinic. My daughter is now in recovery, is a certified substance abuse counselor, and very involved in this program. She believes the entire 6 years she spent battling addiction was preparing her for this job. Christine is the Program Director of The Genesis Center, with 4 years in active recovery! Having been through it, she has a perspective that plays a pivotal role in relating to our patients. This isn't only my legacy, but hers as well.
We operate as a team, I have loved the addict and she has been the addict.
The Genesis Center primarily treats opioid use disorder, utilizing Methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol. We are not your typical "methadone clinic." We are a medical facility providing medical treatment, just like any doctor's office. We know that recovery is not "one size fits all" and each medication offered is just another tool to fight opioid abuse. We strive to work with local courts and DFCS to help patients with counseling, drug court issues, and to show that we have the community's best interest at heart. We will ensure patient recovery on all levels. The Genesis Center offers holistic healing, life classes, intensive counseling, and strongly encourage family involvement. Our clinic offers personalized treatment plans based on the patient, not the money. There will be monthly classes from professionals in the community. This clinic is focused on full recovery, not replacing an addiction.
Someone once said to me, "I will never judge anything that saves a person's life."
Those words are now the foundation this facility is built upon.
I am striving and dreaming for this clinic to not only save lives, but to help rebuild them.