This past week one of our transitional program participants relapsed. This individual was hired to play a key role in the building of our transitional employment program and his loss of sobriety made me question the ability of our organization to truly help addicts by providing them with employment.
Al Jackson is the Program Director of The Healing Place which is the most successful recovery program in the nation. I saw Al the day I found out about my staff members relapse. Al saw the pain in my eyes and invited me to his office. He asked me “How many men from The Healing Place have you hired for your program?” I answered eight. He then asked me how many of them relapsed, and I said two. He then asked me “So why are you focusing on the 25%, instead of celebrating the 75% who are making it?” What a great question. In one short conversation, Al helped me refocus and see things quite differently than I had just five minutes earlier.
As I walked out of Al’s office to find Anthony seated by the door. I have him a big hug and said “Thank you for being among the 75%.” He returned my hug and looked at me puzzled and said “You’re welcome”. Around the corner, I bumped into Rudy and thanked him for being one of the 75%, then I hugged and thanked Charles and Kalvin. In a matter of five minutes I ran into four reasons to celebrate.
I have always wondered how Al Jackson survives all the pain of working with addicts. Nationally less than 10% of those who suffer from serious addiction make it. It is very hard working with a group of people knowing that many will relapse and some will return to the streets despite all the effort, love, resources and encouragement you pour into them. It is easy to look at all this effort as wasted if we focus on those you lose instead of those who are succeeding. I wish we did not have to suffer through times like these, but I am so thankful for my 75% and the joy they bring to my life. Thanks Al for taking the time to help me see things from a new perspective.