Case Study II - Tyler

CLIENT NAME: Tyler

AGE & GENDER: 26; Male

OCCUPATION: Waiter 

DIAGNOSIS: Drug addict  

TREATMENT: One year of residential treatment (ongoing)

CURRENT STATUS: In treatment 

Like many young drug addicts, Tyler presented himself as an average post-college, millennial attempting to navigate his way forward. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Tyler found himself at the age of 26 living in South Florida and a job waiting tables at a local restaurant. He had the benefits of a loving family back home, good-looks and a friendly disposition.  

Having once again completed detox for his addiction to heroin, Tyler contacted me about recovery coaching at the recommendation of a rehab center he once attended. Tyler had been to multiple treatment centers over the last ten years; every attempt at sobriety was followed by an even worse relapse. A cycle which is not uncommon for addicts.

I met Tyler for our first coaching session at a nearby Starbucks. We connected well, and our conversation about staying sober easily flowed back and forth. At the end of the hour, we agreed to meet again later that week at the same location. We also agreed he would attend a narcotics anonymous meeting that night.  

Later that evening I received a panicked text followed by an equally frantic telephone call from Tyler saying he had tested positive for drugs and was immediately being removed from the sober house he'd been staying at. I was surprised because nothing about our earlier meeting indicated to me he was using or going to use. He already contacted me earlier to say he went to the meeting and everything was going well.

I later discovered Tyler never went to the meeting and instead bought heroin. Having to leave the sober house on the spot, he went to his girlfriend's house for the night. I contemplated this sudden turn of events before finally falling asleep. I wondered what I had missed earlier.

The next morning I contacted Tyler's parents to tell them what had transpired the night before. Despite being an adult I thought it was important to speak with his parents directly. They were disappointed but not surprised.

I told them I thought Tyler needed to be in treatment. He had been through several rehab programs before, so his parents were skeptical about there being anything different at another rehab center.   

I suggested they consider sending him to Alina Lodge; a long-term rehab facility I had recently visited in New Jersey. Alina Lodge was started in 1957 and is one of the few places that has maintained its strict program and long lengths of stay, sometimes extending beyond twelve months. I told them that being at Alina Lodge changed the way I thought about treatment, and I no longer considered traditional models sufficient for chronic relapsers. 

After speaking with the clinical team, Tyler's parents agreed Alina Lodge would be an appropriate placement for him. 

Tyler was against going back to treatment and was determined to get sober himself in Florida. I told him this decision could affect the rest of his life, and that he needed to consider going to Alina Lodge. He had the opportunity to crush his addiction once and for all, or risk living with it forever.

I was also sure to ask “if you love your girlfriend as much as you expressed to me earlier then you would surely go back to treatment.” These concepts softened the blow of returning to rehab again. The conversation continued for a couple of hours later, over text, where Tyler finally agreed to go to Alina Lodge. 

That Friday, I picked Tyler up at his girlfriend's house and brought him to the airport, so he could fly to New Jersey. I sent his mother pictures of Tyler boarding the plane and then of the plane leaving the gate. She was relieved to know he was safely en route.

Tyler is still at the beginning of his journey, and many obstacles lie ahead for him. He occasionally expresses a desire to skip out and return to his girlfriend in Florida. We remind him of the consequences such a decision would yield, and refocus him back on recovery.