The Seed of Hope

How a mother's new life in recovery gave root to multigenerational healing
Closeup shot of a woman's hands holding a young plant
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Judy B. traces her family's extraordinary recovery story back to October 4, 1982, the day the Betty Ford Center opened. Her mother was among the center's first four patients.

"That's where my story began, and our family's story began, because as Mom went through treatment at the Betty Ford Center, our family had the opportunity to attend Family Week," Judy recounts. "The Betty Ford Center pulled all of us in, as a family—because addiction is a family disease—and taught us about alcoholism."

Hearing patients describe their struggles with substance use hit close to home for Judy, a little closer than she was ready to accept.

I Heard Myself in Their Stories

"Family Week planted a seed for me because, as I listened to patients share their experience, I heard some of myself in those stories. But then my head would tell me, 'Aww, you're not that bad. You're not drinking like your mom was.'"

A year's worth of weekly support meetings was also a part of her family's care at the Betty Ford Center. Over time, the meetings became a part of Judy's routine and a place where she found connection and, ultimately, the motivation to change.

"It took me a while to really get honest with myself. I had been trying every way I could not to drink, not to get loaded—using every possible excuse and rationalization. I could see that I needed help. I finally accepted that I couldn't do it by myself."

Three years after her mother completed treatment, Judy checked herself into the Betty Ford Center's outpatient treatment program.

Recovery's the New Family Tradition

Within a few years, Judy's son—"after getting into enough trouble and pain"—also went to treatment at the Betty Ford Center. Judy's brother soon followed.

"We've all stayed sober all of these years as a result of the Betty Ford Center's treatment programs and, even before that, as a result of the education we received as a family about addiction," Judy shares.

Her mother's recovery even won over the biggest detractor in the family: Judy's stepdad.

From Detractor to Devotee

"In the beginning, my stepdad had a typical reaction: he wanted to pull my mom out of treatment because 'they were changing her', and he didn't necessarily like all of the changes," Judy recalls.

Despite his initial misgivings, Judy's stepfather showed up for aftercare and support group meetings. Eventually he became so enamored of the care his wife and family received that he began volunteering at the Betty Ford Center. A few years later, he became a licensed addiction technician and worked at the Betty Ford Center until he was 80.

"Just as alcoholism and addiction can run in a family, so can recovery," Judy affirms. "Look at my family's experience."

Hear More of Judy B.'s Story

Listen in as William C. Moyers interviews Judy for the Let’s Talk Addiction & Recovery podcast series.

"Just as alcoholism and addiction can run in a family, so can recovery."

Judy B.

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