The Language of Hope

Jose Edgar Juanita2
Table of Contents

Spanish Family Program translates the lessons of recovery into help for more people

Even though Edgar V. was careful to hide his drug use from his parents, Juanita and José, he could see that his sneakiness and dishonesty were having a detrimental effect.

"I felt like I was taking my family's peace of mind away, and bringing distrust and unease into the household,” Edgar shares.

At age 25, Edgar couldn't start the day without stimulants or painkillers. "My first thought every morning was how to get my next fix. I started doing a lot of shady things to make that happen. I could admit to myself that I was an addict, and I knew I had to get off the drugs. I just didn't know what kind of help I needed."

An emotional, 5 a.m. conversation at the family's dining table marked the beginning of Edgar's—and his family's—road to recovery.

"When my dad got up for work, I asked him if he had a couple of minutes to talk," Edgar recounts. "It was hard to ask for help, because I knew there would be disappointment."

But José listened with love. His son was reaching out, and for that he was grateful.

"Family is everything," says José. "You do whatever you can to support your loved ones."

Edgar eventually made his way through treatment at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California, (three weeks in residential care and 10 weeks in the intensive outpatient program), where he got sober and gained the knowledge and tools to strengthen his recovery. When a counselor told José and Juanita, whose primary language is Spanish, about a newly launched Spanish-language version of Hazelden Betty Ford's Family Program, the couple signed up to become the program's first participants.

Introduced in October 2020, Hazelden Betty Ford's Spanish Family Program is now offered online once a month. Through a combination of educational videos, group discussions, peer support and other recovery resources, family members learn about the nature of addiction and healthy ways of coping—regardless of whether their loved one goes to treatment or gets into recovery.

For Juanita, the experience transformed her understanding of addiction as a disease and the implications for families.

"I learned that addiction is an illness that affects everyone in the family, and it affects how we interact with one another," she shares.

"The program helped our family open the lines of communication and express our feelings and concerns, as opposed to shutting down or reacting emotionally out of frustration or worry."

The difference is noticeable, says Edgar.

"The household actually feels lighter, like a burden has been lifted," he reflects. "I really appreciate how Mom and Dad have applied what they learned in the Family Program to my siblings—teaching them to open up more instead of holding everything in and letting emotions bottle up."

Just as addiction pulls families apart, recovery can bring families closer together. But healing doesn't happen overnight, says José. It takes practice, commitment and mutual support.

"For Edgar and for our whole family, recovering from the disease of addiction isn't like healing from an illness where you take a remedy and get well. It's more like a journey,” José explains—a shared journey that brings new lessons, deeper understanding and greater connection for all in the family.

Hablemos, Amigos

Edgar, Juanita and José are featured guests in our Let's Talk Addiction & Recovery podcast series hosted by William C. Moyers. Visit to learn more about their family's healing journey.

Estamos aqui para su familia

Hazelden Betty Ford's Spanish Family Program is available online and free of charge, thanks to donor generosity.

Delivered in a one-day format and facilitated by a bilingual counselor, the program equips participants with recovery knowledge, support skills and Spanish-language resources.

Since its launch, the Spanish Family Program has drawn participants from across the United States as well as Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mexico.

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