Friday, October 2, 2015



By Joan Shepherd, FNP

I was so inspired this week by my patients…(not their real names)

First, Lacey.

She is 23 years old, and since age 15, she lived in a blitzed out world of drinking. As of this month, she’s been clean for a year. I asked her what was different. She got really quiet and I started thinking I’d overstepped some bounds by asking her. 

Then, she looked at me and said, “Everything.”

She has watched her little niece grow this year, while during the first two years of her life was mostly a forgotten blur. She has conversations with her family now. She realizes she quite likes her family. She is enrolling in classes again. 

Life isn’t perfect, but she realizes there are solutions. Talking can help.

Then, Jimmy.

He has not used opiates for 2 months. I know that’s a really short time, but he came back for another 2 month naltrexone implant. 

He can’t believe how good it feels to not have to chase the drug; to wake up and wonder where the money will come from, who he’s going to take advantage of to get his dope. He admits things are a little boring but the way he interprets that is, “Now I have time to do everything I need to do. I am so grateful my family stuck with me.”

His family is taking him to counseling, taking him to meetings. They are kind of watching him like hawks and he is way OK with that for now.

And, Teddy.

I didn’t even recognize the handsome young man sitting in front of me. He’s gone from 125 pound to 140 and looks amazing. He’s working again, off heroin for 5 months. 

He is struggling a lot in his sobriety with the (his words) "horrible things he did to his friends and co-workers" while actively using. Working on the shame and the guilt. I read somewhere that guilt can be handy; it helps guide us toward the next right thing. 

Shame however, isn’t so useful. It tends to keep us stuck in thoughts that don’t do us any good.

This is but a small sampling of what I get to hear treating patients at TCI. These folks have all experienced the misery of addiction and are tasting the sweet fruits of recovery. Talk to most people in long term recovery and you will hear that it keeps getting better. 

It’s my privilege to be a little part of it.


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