Inspired to Help Others

Phil and Joanna F
Table of Contents
It's only after you leave that you begin to realize your personal transformation.

Phil F.

Today Phil F. is a successful businessperson and entrepreneur. He's also a husband, father and grandfather. Now he gives back to make sure others find lifesaving care at Hazelden Betty Ford…because for years he hid a secret that almost killed him.

The seeds of alcoholism were planted early in his life, but he stopped drinking while raising his young family. It wasn't until his early forties that he faced his demon again, and after two decades of hard drinking, it nearly killed him.

Phil tells a harrowing story of symptoms that worried his family, but doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong. Finally his symptoms became acute while he was on a business trip. He texted his sister: "I think I have a problem." A former social worker who had attended training at Hazelden Betty Ford, she immediately called, listened to him and made some suggestions. When his wife arrived at the conference later that day, Phil finally admitted to her that he believed all his health problems were related to alcohol. 

While focusing on getting him help quickly, Phil and his wife were shocked to learn that his medical insurance denied coverage for his treatment. While he had the means to pay for his care, the experience motivated Phil to become a regular contributor to Hazelden Betty Ford's Patient Aid fund, so that finances wouldn't stand in the way of anyone getting the help they desperately need. 

Within a day, Phil was accepted into Hazelden Betty Ford in Center City, Minnesota, and admitted himself within a week. He eagerly shares memories of nurses and counselors who were helpful and kind during his stay. "Everyone there cared about my recovery," he says. He tears up as he remembers a woman who was cleaning the floors as he left his residential treatment, who said, "I saw you with your wife saying goodbye in the lobby when you first came in…and I've been praying for you every day since."

As Phil neared the end of his inpatient treatment, he was scared. He had met so many people during his stay who had been to treatment multiple times. How would he cope with being out in the world again? 

Phil did something that worked for him when faced with a new or unfamiliar business challenge: he found people who had been through it and asked them how they did it. Phil didn't stop at one person; he talked to 25-30 people in recovery who had returned to use. He asked each one what they would've done differently to not end up back in treatment. Each person gave essentially the same answer:

"Find a sponsor. Go to a meeting right away. Read the Big Book. Work the Steps."  

If they had done these things, they felt they would not have returned to use.

Following these steps was life-changing for Phil. He continues his routine each day, inspired by the advice of those who found recovery before him. And, each year, Phil gives back in gratitude to Hazelden Betty Ford for saving his life. 

"It's hard to know exactly what you are learning when you are at Hazelden Betty Ford," Phil says. "It's only after you leave that you begin to realize your personal transformation and how it positively affects your spouse, your kids, your employees. There is no greater thing to invest in than this."

Want to learn more? Select a Tag to explore a particular topic or browse articles.