Father’s Day Recovery Story

A Happy Father’s Day

Father-son duo Rick and Eric Dyer share more than just DNA and a last name. Their bond stems from a mutual struggle with a sometimes hereditary and deadly disease: opioid addiction.

“He was absent. He was lost, and I knew it. I knew what that feeling looked like,” said 66-year-old Rick of Newton, remembering when his son’s addiction became apparent. “My Father’s Days with him weren’t that great back then.”

Father’s Days are different now. The pair — now 30 and three years sober, respectively — have turned their lives around. Both practicing lawyers, they dedicate their time to helping others who are stuck in the grips of addiction.

Sobriety didn’t come easy. One hot summer day, chilled from withdrawal and dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, Eric made the decision to join his father’s 12-step program.

“People in the program all knew — they said, ‘Eric, we’ve been holding this seat for you,’ ” Rick said. “He was sick as a dog.”

It is difficult to say how hereditary addiction is, because exposure to substances changes the way certain genes are expressed, said Dr. Brian Barnett, a clinical fellow in addiction psychology at McLean Hospital.

But addiction among family members is a common occurrence.

“I’ve had a lot of patients with parents who’ve also struggled through addiction,” Barnett said. “It’s definitely something I’ve seen in different treatment settings.”

But having a parent who has also dealt with the disease can benefit someone who is trying to beat addiction, Barnett said.

“Parents can be great advocates for their children,” he said. “The system is so fragmented, you really have to have someone help guide you through the process.”

A Grateful Father’s Day

We at the Schnellenberger Family Foundation, as well as our affiliated Recovery Boot Camp and Healing Properties applaud the Dyers, and we wish them and those like them many more Happy Father’s Days to come.

We’d also like to emphasize the importance families are to recovery. Whether it’s at an addiction treatment center like RBC or a sober living facility like HP, family plays an integral part in sobriety. An we at SFF will continue to do everything possible to ensure they stay a factor in the recovery equation.

(The above was extracted from Lindsay Kalter’s Boston Herald piece Father, son share addiction recovery on Father’s Day. Thank you.)

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