TESTIMONIALS

Staff and clients talk about how FI has changed and enriched their lives.

> A NEW PERSPECTIVE

A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields describes how FI helped her learn to let go and love her mom in spite of her illness.

> A FAMILY AFFAIR

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Charlie and Susan

Charlie and Susan are parents in the Family Program. They came to FI when their son, Sam was in trouble.

> COUNSELOR AT FI

COUNSELOR AT FI

Billy

Billy shares why he loves working at FI.

> Freedom Brought Me Back

Freedom Brought Me Back

Margaret

Margaret tells her story and acknowledges the confidence FI gave her family.

> Senior Counselor at FI

Senior Counselor at FI

Michael

Michael talks about witnessing transformation and how much hope there really is for people seeking help.

> Righting my Wrong Perception

Righting my Wrong Perception

Jimmy

Jimmy describes the process he learned at FI that brought him peace.

TAKING SUGGESTIONS

Harry

My name is Harry, and I am an addict. After many years struggling with an ever-growing addiction, and despite attempts to stop - rehab, recovery, and right back...

My name is Harry, and I am an addict. After many years struggling with an ever-growing addiction, and despite attempts to stop - rehab, recovery, and right back to using - I found myself at the end of the road. I didn’t want to continue using, but I couldn’t stop. I had told myself every day for the previous year (since last leaving inpatient treatment) that this would be the last night, that tomorrow I would stop. And every morning I would wake up thinking, “just one more day.”

Over the previous ten years my drug of choice had morphed from alcohol to heroin to crack. Each time I put one down, thinking that only that substance was my problem, I would pick the next one up. By the end of my run I had lost my driver’s license and was being evicted from my apartment; my girlfriend had left; my family wanted nothing to do with me; I was unemployable and stealing from everyone I knew; and I had warrants for my arrest in three states. I read somewhere that a “bottom” is when things worsen faster than you can lower your standards. And I had no standards left. I had hit bottom. Luckily, my family intervened, and I went to a well-known treatment facility in Pennsylvania.

Initially, I was still somewhat unwilling to do what was asked of me. I was close to being kicked out when a counselor pulled me aside and asked me “who I was fighting.” I answered him that I didn’t know, and he suggested that I was fighting no one but myself. He ‘gently’ suggested that maybe ‘my way’ wasn’t working and if I wanted to change (I did!) perhaps I should start taking suggestions from others who might have more understanding of what I needed than I did. Somehow, what he said broke through my stubbornness and my long-held defenses (my addictive thinking). I locked myself in another room and cried. I got on my knees and prayed for help. I made a decision at that moment that I would ask for guidance, follow suggestions, and stop believing that I knew what was best for me. This was my first true experience of what is called surrendering. I spent the next five months at the rehab, doing anything that was asked of me. This new level of willingness was the first turning point in my recovery and the beginning of my new life.

Upon discharge I was advised not to return to New York City, unless I went to outpatient treatment at Freedom Institute. Despite feeling a little burnt out on institutions, I took the suggestion. In September 2007 I began as a client at Freedom, attending regular groups as well as individual counseling. This helped me to continue on a path of structure, healing, and recovery from a disease that had been, without a doubt, killing me. Being at Freedom was often challenging, but always worth it. I completed treatment in the spring of 2008. Before I left, one of the counselors at Freedom pulled me aside and asked if I was making it to outside 12-step meetings. I now had a good job and was working long hours so the question felt a bit challenging.

“A couple a week,” I answered him.

“Not enough,” he said, “not with less than a year clean.”

I didn’t like his response, but remembered my decision to follow the guidance of those who were there to help me. I took his words to heart and started making a meeting everyday. There is an old adage in the rooms of NA/AA that “meeting makers make it”, and I was determined to make it.

In April of this year I celebrated four years clean. I am an active member of Narcotics Anonymous, have a sponsor, work the steps, and sponsor a few other men as well. I even started two NA meetings that continue to grow and thrive. I recently bought a beautiful old farmhouse upstate that I share with my girlfriend and our five cats, where we garden, play music, and make art. In May I received my CASAC-T (training certification for substance abuse counseling), and in June got a job as a counselor in an outpatient clinic not unlike Freedom Institute. I try to always remember how far down my addiction took me, and how I couldn’t have made it back alone, how I couldn’t have done it without the love, care, and concern of others. I try to never take my life today for granted. I try to pass on what has been given to me. More than anything I am grateful that through the wisdom and encouragement of others (and my own stubborn determination), I was able to take a suggestion, break the deadly chains of my addiction, and find a new way to live.

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IN A MOTHER'S WORDS

Anonymous

Our younger daughter had just graduated from the 8th grade when we began to notice her withdrawal. We didn’t understand what was happening until we found a letter...

Our younger daughter had just graduated from the 8th grade when we began to notice her withdrawal. We didn’t understand what was happening until we found a letter she left lying on the dining room table. In it she bragged to a friend that she smoked marijuana with kids who hung out in Central Park after school.

A generation ago we had smoked marijuana ourselves. But we knew today’s drugs are stronger and we sensed that today’s kids are more emotionally vulnerable. We didn’t want our daughter to deal with difficult feelings by taking such serious risks.

There were plenty of difficult feelings to deal with. Our older daughter had recently been diagnosed as bipolar, after episodes of angry and erratic behavior over several years. We now know that our younger daughter was often frightened for her physical safety, and also that she received far less of our attention than she would have had we not been so distracted by our attempts to define her sister’s suffering and find appropriate treatment. The marijuana discovery made us realize we needed to find help for our younger daughter too.

We found Freedom Institute through our Employee Assistance Program. It wasn’t easy to get our daughter to talk about what might be driving her away from us and toward the drug culture. After two sessions, she was furious with us and swore she wouldn’t go back. But she did, because she had already formed a strong connection to her counselor.

Over the months that followed, Freedom Institute helped our daughter - and us - to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships. Our daughter emerged from the process with knowledge she needed to understand her choices, emotional support she needed to feel confident about herself during a troubling time, and coping skills she needed to handle the challenges of adolescence

Today, she uses no drugs or alcohol, and is doing well in all aspects of her life. We are very grateful to Freedom Institute.

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FI TRANSFORMS EDUCATION

Gene Gardino

Our partnership with Freedom Institute has transformed the scope and sequence of our drug and alcohol education at Chapin. Their work in our school has become one of...

Our partnership with Freedom Institute has transformed the scope and sequence of our drug and alcohol education at Chapin. Their work in our school has become one of the centerpieces of our social and emotional programming. When we decided to add a Student Assistance Counselor from Freedom to be at our school all day, two days a week, we were certain that we would get the quality and flexibility of drug and alcohol education so important to adolescents today.

Because of the expansive clinical training of their counselors, however, the counseling support system for students has been significantly enhanced as well. Freedom not only sends us experts in the field of substance use/abuse. They also send us highly-trained clinicians, all of whom have become cherished colleagues, rapidly earning the trust of students and faculty with their flawless expertise and charismatic energy. We treasure the relationship with Freedom Institute because they have raised the bar when it comes to serving and educating students, faculty, and parents in our school community!

—Gene Gardino,
Director of Counseling Services, The Chapin School, Manhattan

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INVALUABLE SERVICE

KC Cohen

Armed both with up to date facts and statistics, as well as anecdotal information about the drug and alcohol “scene” in NYC, (based on their experience working in...

Armed both with up to date facts and statistics, as well as anecdotal information about the drug and alcohol “scene” in NYC, (based on their experience working in almost all of the Independent schools in the area), Freedom Institute’s counselors have provided an invaluable service to Riverdale Country School for more than ten years. Counselors from Freedom Institute’s Independent School Program have worked with small groups of our students to prepare them to manage the ever-complicated world of teen drug and alcohol use undoubtedly facing them as youth living in NYC. After receiving positive feedback from our students (who said they were more comfortable discussing these types of issues with non-staff members), we felt confident that they were better armed with the knowledge they would need to make wiser choices in their social lives moving forward.

Freedom Institute’s counselors have also worked with our faculty and staff, as well as with various groups of our parents, always providing us with counselors who were articulate, relatable, and totally knowledgeable about the reality of what our students were up against. Freedom Institute has been a huge part of raising the consciousness of our students, parents, faculty and administrators about the impact of drugs and alcohol on young people’s lives, and has also provided our community with skills to better recognize, manage, and refer students when needed. We’ve simply found no other organization that does this type of prevention education with the skill and savvy as the people from Freedom Institute. We will continue to use Freedom Institute for years to come!

-KC Cohen
School Counselor, Riverdale Country School, Bronx

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