DENVER — Lisa Smith describes her family of four as “typical.”
But it didn’t feel that way six years ago, when her son Noah began struggling. Academic troubles led to confidence issues, and then substance abuse. Noah experimented with alcohol and marijuana, eventually moving on to opiates.
“Early in his senior year we put him in a wilderness treatment setting because we were just desperate at that point. That wasn’t based on recommendations, it was just based on desperation,” Smith said.
Not only were Smith and her husband uncertain about treatments for their son, they felt lost as a family.
“There are 40 million people currently in the US struggling with substance use disorder, which means there are over 100 million family members that are directly affected by this,” she said.
But once Smith started opening up to family and friends, she realized sharing her experience could help others.
She became a licensed recovery coach and started Reclaim and Recover to help entire families through substance use disorder. Her sessions include, parents, siblings, or even members of extended family. She helps families identify patterns that may be hindering recovery.
An important piece is also helping family members better communicate with their loved one who is going through addiction. She also helps families realize the importance of self-care.
“Families also get hijacked on this journey, they don’t know how to take care of themselves, they don’t know how to navigate the waters and be able to sustain the stress and really, trauma, that is endured for families fearful for their loved ones lives,” she said.
Smith’s son, Noah, has now been in recovery for three years. Smith said the relationships within the family have changed dramatically.
“Being in the present, being intentional around how we want our relationships to move forward and understanding how fragile life is,” she said.