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Eric’s Second Chance

At age 17, “Eric” needed a second chance. Despite being adopted at age three by a strong, loving mother, Eric had joined a gang. With his addictions to marijuana and alcohol, his life took a turn for the worse as he started stealing credit cards (including his mom’s) and identities. He was also dealing drugs. After a few failed attempts at outpatient treatment, his mother got him to Ryther’s Cottage B inpatient substance abuse treatment program by fabricating a trip to the dentist. Within the first two weeks, Eric earned quite a reputation by refusing to follow rules, instigating peers to follow suit and damaging property. It is not uncommon for depression to be masked by rage, and Eric was soon diagnosed with depression by Ryther’s psychiatrist, Dr. Linda Ford.

At Ryther, when clients are not progressing or are close to failing, they are also given hope with a “Phoenix,” or a second chance to step up. Eric had earned a Phoenix, and it was then that he realized staff were going to stand by him and be consistent and his behavior was not going to distract from the work that needed to be done. After a particularly emotional argument with his mother during a visit, Eric was able to draw upon some self-soothing skills he learned at Ryther. He experienced success in calming down and now acknowledges this was the turning point for him. When staff elected him as community leader that same week, Eric had to set the standard for the other boys by being respectful and following directions. They began to look up to him, which boosted Eric’s self-esteem. He led a treatment group, succeeded on Ryther’s Challenge Course, and graduated from Ryther with his mother at his side, arm in arm. He called a few weeks ago to let staff know that he is consistently attending therapy and treatment meetings, has enrolled in a GED program and that he and his mom are getting along really well. Eric is spending a lot of time at home since he’s worried about running into old acquaintances, but there is a benefit to that: he gets to spend time with his sister, too.


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