Aurora, Colo. (September 27, 2016) - Kids growing up in homes where addiction has been a problem often walk on egg shells. They blame themselves and stumble through a fog of self-doubt and uncertainty, sometimes leading to depression or anger. Mathew M. was one of those children.
"My dad always said he would come to one of my games or choir performances," says the 16-year-old Denver-area youth. "He never did. Everyone else had a dad there. I didn't."
Mathew's dad suffers from addiction, which was a great source of pain for Mathew. His father was erratic and undependable. He would promise to see Mathew but wouldn't arrive. When he did, he was drunk and combative to the point that Mathew's mother Denise had to force him out of her home. As a result, Mathew has not had contact with his father.
Early on in Mathew's life, disappointment turned to anger. When he was nine years old, Mathew acted out when he felt threatened by a teacher. The school contacted Mathew's mother, telling her about the menacing graffiti and artwork Mathew had drawn. Denise watched as her happy boy went dark.
"He was always a big boy," says Denise. "My family would ask what I was going to do when he got bigger and madder. How would I handle that?"
But help arrived when Denise, a family counselor, attended an informational meeting during which she learned about The Betty Ford Center Children's Program. Immediately she understood that Mathew needed to attend.
"I knew it was something that could possibly help Mathew," says Denise. "It was life changing. It was the most amazing thing that could have happened for my son at that time."
Now Mathew's life is full with goals for the future. He loves football and wants to play college and professional ball. Each morning this summer, he rose at 3 a.m. and trained for two hours with a coach before heading to Pomona High School for practice with his team.
"Football has helped me cope with the loss of my father in my life," says Mathew. "The way my dad is, is not my fault. It's addiction's fault."
For decades, The Betty Ford Center has administered counseling to children of adults suffering from addiction. At its regional centers in Dallas, Denver and Rancho Mirage, California, counselors assist children with how to identify and express their feelings, develop self-care skills, and deepen communication with parents.
About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 16 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Learn more at www.HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter@hazldnbettyford.
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