Recovering Together

Healing the Brokenhearted
Merrill, Shawn - Web Copy Shawn (left) and May on a visit to Hazelden Betty Ford’s Plymouth, Minnesota, site.
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For the first time, there were supportive people, who were also professionals, helping guide me.

Family Program Participant

By the time Shawn found Hazelden Betty Ford, she was desperate to help her daughter, May. She knew that May had a family history of addiction on both sides, but experience had taught her that such things weren't discussed. She constantly second-guessed herself and her parenting decisions as May's substance use became more serious through her college years and beyond.

When May entered treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford's program for teens and young adults in Plymouth, Minnesota, Shawn signed up for the Family Program. "It completely changed my worldview," she says. "I discovered my family isn't broken—just brokenhearted.

"At Hazelden Betty Ford, I learned that I was doing what many parents try to do," says Shawn. "I didn't cause her addiction, and I didn't have to navigate it alone. Until then, I had no tools or resources to be the parent I wanted to be for May."

Shawn then participated in Hazelden Betty Ford's Healthy Relationships program, which launched in 2022. The 10-week, intensive program is grounded in the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) approach to dealing with a loved one who has substance use disorder. Through weekly virtual workshops and one-on-one coaching, participants learn evidence-based skills to navigate their circumstances and rebuild relationships.

This program was a giant step toward healing for Shawn. "For the first time, there were supportive people, who were also professionals, helping guide me," she explains. "I learned it's OK to talk about the problems. It was valuable to hear other families' stories and see where they were on their own journeys—which gave me so much hope." As a result of the program, Shawn says the dynamics of her relationship with her daughter shifted. They're building a more positive relationship as May continues on her own recovery journey.

"It was so important for me to know that while I was working my program, my mom was doing her own work, thanks to the Family Program," says May. "We both have our own tools, so we can come together and rebuild trust. I'm not sure I would have come as far as I've come without her efforts."

As Shawn struggled with the realities of changing jobs and helping May get back on her feet, she was grateful for the supporters who made it possible for her to participate in the Healthy Relationships program. "The financial assistance made all the difference," she says. "I don't know where we'd be without it.

"Thanks to these programs, we're finally addressing a cycle that's been going on for generations in two families," she adds. "Hazelden Betty Ford has helped us when nothing else did."

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