Tag Archives: addiction

An Open Letter to a Program Prodigal



Dear ____,

So I heard about what happened.  I asked about why I hadn’t seen you in a few days and got the two word reply of “he used.”  I “knew” that people would come in and out of the Mission depending on where they were with recovery.  But it hurt to see a premature exit in person.

You were the first member of the Overcomers Program that I got to know as more than just a face and a name.  At your desk, there would always be at least two books open in front of you.  When I asked, “reading something interesting?” You smiled, said “yes,” and showed me a book about recovery and acceptance.  “Recovery is the most interesting thing in my life,” you explained.  The other book was always the Bible.  Do you remember that?  Because I do.

At least you must remember when I took a picture of you on your birthday.  It caught you mid-laugh after I asked for “a big birthday smile.”  Then I printed it out and left it for you with “Happy Birthday, ____! –Rosalyn” written across the top in red Sharpie.  Did that cross your mind before you left?

What about the time you heard that I used to be a teacher?  You talked about your worst job (washing dishes) and I talked about my worst class (fourth period).  I explained that I loved the students but I wasn’t prepared to be a teacher forever.  You said, “Let me lay some wisdom down for you, as long as you helped one person then you did your job.”  I replied, “then I did my job.”  Do you still believe that?  Can I do my job here as long as I help one person?  Maybe.  But it saddens me to think that it isn’t you.

On your last day here, I asked you how you were doing and you said, “not good.”  You had a cold and your throat was sore.  I told you to drink hot water with a slice of lemon and you made fun of me because you thought it sounded gross.  That’s it?  That’s the last time I speak to you before you completely disappear?

I get it.  I really do.  People come in and out of recovery programs.  We need to truly celebrate the success stories because there are those who do not make it through.  You did not “fail.”  You are not a “failure.”  Relapse is a sad but natural step in the recovery process.  The prodigal son would not have been welcomed home with open arms if he had not left.  You can always come back to us if you have a heart to change.

It’s raining here.  Is it raining there?  Did you find a place to stay dry?  I hope you know there are people in this world that care whether you get out of the rain.  And I doubt that it is just me.  Remember that you are cared for.  And I hope you find your way home.