Hope in Every Language: A Family's Combined Efforts to Heal

Let's Talk Addiction & Recovery Podcast
Father and son in public park

Host William C. Moyers speaks with two incredibly supportive parents, José and Juanita, and their son Edgar who is now in recovery. They describe the family journey through addiction and into recovery, from first gaining awareness of the disease at the Spanish Family Program to now supporting one another at every turn. Tune in to hear their invaluable perspectives on the importance of family, the lifelong journey of recovery and practicing self-care to best support one another.

I was relieved more than anything because I knew that they would be able to understand me in the way that I battled an addiction.


0:00:13 William Moyers
Hello and welcome to Let's Talk, a podcast series produced by Hazelden Betty Ford. I'm your host, William C. Moyers. And today, this is a special actually—it's not just special—but it's a unique podcast. Because it's the first time we've offered it in Spanish. Well at least mostly in Spanish. Thanks to my colleague, Emilio Angulo, a family program professional at the Betty Ford Center in California. Who will combine his clinical and bilingual expertise to help our guests share their story of hope. Welcome, Emilio, thank you for being there today to offer your linguistic talents to our conversation.

0:00:58 Emilio Angulo
Thank you, William. Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

0:01:01 William Moyers
And Buendia to Juanita y José. Buendia.

0:01:05 Juanita and José
Buenas Dias! Hola!

0:01:07 William Moyers
And their son, Edgar, joins us today. Hello, Edgar, how are you?

0:01:13 Edgar
[waves] How's it going? Pretty good, and yourself?

0:01:14 William Moyers
I'm doing okay, thanks. Thank you all for being with us today. So, we've never done a Let's Talk podcast in Spanish before. So, I'm gonna ask that we pause for just a minute and please pray for us. [chuckles] Let's talk first with Juanita. Juanita, you raised your son with a big commitment to his well-being. Did you ever imagine that he would develop a problem with drugs?

0:01:44 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:02:11 Emilio Angulo
So William, Juanita says that no, she never thought this would be. She raised him the best she possibly could with love and discipline. And thought she'd be able to give him everything she possibly could in the process of raising him, you know, within their family system.

0:02:29 William Moyers
Thank you. And José, did you ever have any idea that your son Edgar was developing a problem with substances?

0:02:40 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:02:57 Emilio Angulo
So José's response is that he never thought that he was—his son Edgar was either suffering or addicted to substances. But he did from time to time have thoughts that he may be smoking a joint here or there with his pals. But never as far as did he think he was suffering with addiction.

0:03:19 William Moyers
Edgar, how did you hide your substance use from your parents?

0:03:25 Edgar
Not spending a lot of time at home. And my schedule for work actually helped a lot, because by the time I would get home they would be asleep. A lot of Visine, that's for sure. And just being—trying to act as normal as possible when I was around them and kept cooperating at home with what I had to cooperate with. So I guess that kinda covered it up for me. But I've always been the sneaky type when it came to that.

0:03:51 William Moyers
[chuckles] Juanita, did you understand what addiction is?

0:03:58 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:04:15 Emilio Angulo
So Juanita's response is no, she had no clue about what addiction was and she would just refer to addiction was like oh that's, that drug addict on that end, and that's the alcoholic on the other, that's as far as she knew about addiction.

0:04:29 William Moyers
And José, when Edgar finally admitted that he had a problem, were you surprised?

0:04:37 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:05:06 Emilio Angulo
So José's response was that he was surprised because he was in a sense somewhat ignoring the fact that his son was, you know, having to function on a daily basis by using a substance. So, part of it was that he just didn't have any information, so, he really wasn't aware.

0:05:27 William Moyers
Edgar, what happened when you finally did ask your parents for help? How did that happen for you?

0:05:38 Edgar
I felt stuck. I didn't know what to do anymore. And I—I really just needed help. So, I built up the courage to ask them and they did their best to give me the help that I needed. And the most important part is that they were being supportive about the change.

0:06:02 William Moyers
And so ultimately you ended up as you've been sharing with us before about you went to—to the Betty Ford Center and received treatment. And at some point along the way, your parents, Juanita and José, attended the Family Program. Not just the Family Program but I believe you were both the first people, the first family members, to attend the Spanish Family Program. Is that correct?

0:06:30 Emilio Angulo
[Edgar laughs, José and Juanita grin]
Yes, William, it is correct. We launched our first Family Program in September and our first participants were Juanita and José in October of 2020.

0:06:41 William Moyers
[nods, smiles] In October of 2020. So that was—we're now in August of '21, so a little over a year ago. Juanita, were you nervous to go to the Family Program?

0:06:53 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:07:15 Emilio Angulo
Well, Juanita's response is that no, she was not nervous at all. Once she knew that her son had a problem, she'd jump at the idea that she also wanted to participate in a virtual Family Program because she also said ‘I wanna know as much as I possibly can to be able to support my son.'

0:07:31 William Moyers
And what did Juanita learn at the Family Program?

0:07:36 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:08:12 Emilio Angulo
So Juanita's response William is the first thing is that she was able to understand that addiction is a disease. And not only that it was a disease, but also how it impacted the family in that she knew that if her son needed help, she also needed help herself. Not only to better herself but to be able to better support her son as well, too.

0:08:31 William Moyers
[nods] José, what did you learn at the Family Program?

0:08:37 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:09:03 Emilio Angulo
So, José's response, pretty similar to Juanita's response is that first acknowledged that it is a disease. And needed help because his thought was that it was more like a cough and all he had to do was take a certain remedy and he would be better. But also ended up finding out that this is a lifelong journey and it's gonna be a day at a time and how can they best support themselves to be able to support their son through it all.

0:09:27 William Moyers
Yes, how they support themselves to be better at supporting their son. That's a great message. Edgar, were you nervous to have your parents at the Family Program or were you relieved?

0:09:41 Edgar
I was more relieved more than anything because I knew that they would be able to understand me in the way that I battled an addiction. And they would have better tools to help me, support through my journey of getting clean.

0:09:57 William Moyers
Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Emilio, I'm gonna let you ask this to the parents and they can respond however they want to. But why was it important for Juanita and José to be able to attend a family program in Spanish?

0:10:13 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:10:30 Emilio Angulo
So José's response is that first of all, Spanish is the primary language. He was able to ask questions in regards to some of the doubts that he had and was able to understand because the answers were in Spanish for me and it just made it much easier for him to understand the whole program itself

0:10:48 William Moyers
Yes. So, we wanna move now to what—how things are today. For the family. And I would like to ask Juanita what she does to take care of herself on a day-to-day basis.

0:11:02 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:11:36 Emilio Angulo
So Juanita's response is that it's her time today, the way it is is that she's able to let her son live his recovery life and also at the same time, do her own recovery process as well. And has been able to somewhat detach and let her son be, make his own decisions as well as she's able to take care of herself as well through it all. So this is a day-to-day process that they practice and it's been great so far.

0:12:03 William Moyers
Wow. [nods, smiles] And it's not easy.

0:12:06 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:12:20 Emilio Angulo
So Juanita's response said no, it definitely has not been easy. She said the beginning, it was really difficult where she understood that you know, as much help as my son needs, I need the help as well, too.

0:12:33 William Moyers
[smiles] What does José do that is most important for his recovery, as the father, day after day?

0:12:43 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:13:09 Emilio Angulo
So, José's response is that he first of all, he's able to understand that his son has been able to get the tools that are needed for himself to be able to, you know, live life on his terms in recovery as well as now, José's been able to practice some self-care in a way where he now prays for his son. And, you know, also prays that everything will be, or continue to be, well on a day-to-day basis.

0:13:38 William Moyers
Edgar, as you sit there listening to your parents, being in the same room with them, hearing them share today, how does that make you feel?

0:13:47 Edgar
It gives me a sense of acceptance in what I went through. And support. And also a little bit of protection knowing that if I need help in a dilemma that I'm in, I can always go to them and they could give me a solid answer and the right decision to do. It's like a backup plan for me. It just—it feels nice having that lending hand there.

0:14:17 William Moyers
Yes. Yes. We're about out of time, we only have a few minutes and I wanted to close by asking Juanita and José this final question. I'll start with Juanita. Juanita, what is your message to other families particularly other Spanish-speaking families, about your own experience? What do you want them to know if they're struggling with a loved one who has an addiction problem or is in recovery?

0:14:46 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:15:16 Emilio Angulo
So Juanita's response to the question William is that first of all, that when you're at the lowest, you're desperate, in a desperate moment, that you put that aside and you reach out for help. Whether it's in Spanish or in English, that you reach out for help and it's out there. And to also know that you are not alone. The hope is there. [Moyers nods]

0:15:37 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:16:09 Emilio Angulo
So José's response, his first thing is that to know that you're not alone. You know, you're not alone in this. And also too is that when you are at your lowest, that family—it's important to do whatever you can to support your loved one by finding the help as well that you need. And, you know, ‘cause at the end of the day, family is what matters.

0:16:31 William Moyers
[nods] Family that matters. That's certainly an inspiring conclusion. An inspiring message of hope to our viewers today. And please, if you would, translate and tell them how grateful all of us at Hazelden Betty Ford are for their willingness, their strength, to stand up and speak out and share their story to benefit other people.

0:16:54 Emilio Angulo
[turns to family and speaks in Spanish]

0:17:11 José
Speaks in Spanish

0:17:24 Juanita
Speaks in Spanish

0:17:47 Emilio Angulo
And their response to it all is that you're welcome and that they're so grateful for them being here. And also too is that they're so grateful that today they are able to at least pass on a message, you know, if the goal is to hopefully help one other family. [Juanita and José nod] If they can help one other family, they've done their part and they'll continue to be available to provide any sort of help and service to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

0:18:12 William Moyers
Thank you, Juanita and José. Thank you, Edgar, for being with us today. And thank you, Emilio, for not only for helping this family to carry their message of hope and healing today, but also for your work to transform the lives of people. Like this family that's been with us today. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for carrying the message.

0:18:32 Juanita and José

0:18:32 Edgar
Thank you.

0:18:34 William Moyers
And thanks to you our audience for joining us. Remember as you've just heard, addiction does not discriminate. And neither should recovery. Addiction affects people of all cultures and languages and communities. But treatment does work and recovery is possible in any language and in any culture. So, don't wait. If you or a loved one needs help. Ask for help, do it now, it's okay. I'm your host, William C. Moyers, I hope you'll join us for another edition of Let's Talk. See you soon.

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