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Home for Good: Restoring family bonds after addiction

Is there anything more cherished during the Christmas season than our families? The gifts, the candles, the carols, and the festive meals wouldn’t offer much joy without those we love nearby to share them with. Yet, for many, our closest relationships can be the very reason this time of year is the hardest. Traumatic histories, cycles of abuse or abandonment, feelings of shame and failure—particularly related to family—can fill the holiday season with despair and darkness.

Jorians-family

One recent UGM Recovery alumnus, Jorian, and his family will tell you today that, despite their tattered bonds and a shared painful past, there’s reason to believe it can all change for the better.

The candle of hope barely flickered in Jorian’s life, but it just needed the breath of God, perseverance, and surrounding loved ones to bring it to full flame.

Jorian grew up in Colorado in a loving, Christian home. But as a sophomore in high school, he started using marijuana and drinking alcohol. “It was to fit in at that point, I’d say,” he told us. “Then it became more habitual, especially the marijuana.” Then tragedy struck near the end of high school. His parents divorced and his best friend committed suicide. “That’s kind of when I went from using recreational drugs and alcohol into using it to suppress pain.” Not long after, two cousins also took their lives. 

Jorian

Jorian’s sister, Taylor, lived in Spokane at the time with her own growing family. When she heard that Jorian was spiraling further into destructive behavior, she wondered if there was anything she could do. “Eight years hearing about this…” she said in a recent interview with her and her brother. “He was going through jobs and wrecking cars…My dad was terrified that if he gave him tough love, that that would be the way Jori went.” They might lose him too. Taylor decided to open her home to her brother.

In early 2021, Jorian arrived in Spokane and worked toward sobriety while living with Taylor’s family. Today, they all agree that it wasn’t easy—relationally and mentally—for any of them, but it was the first spark of belief that things might get better. As she was searching for further ways to help, Taylor says she heard how Rick Clark’s Spokane Quaranteam helped a woman from UGM’s program receive a vehicle. “I was following that and thinking, what is this LIFE Recovery program? I called and talked to Joel [UGM Director of Ministries] for at least an hour.” But with barely an ember of hope burning, Taylor suddenly found herself trying to keep her brother from returning to Colorado to celebrate his birthday. 

“It showed me the reality of everything. I was like, ‘Okay, something’s got to give.’”
- JORIAN


Jorian left and stayed away for almost three months, during which time, he lost yet another friend to suicide. Jorian remembers, “The guys that saw him the night that he killed himself said he was drinking. It showed me the reality of everything. I was like, ‘Okay, something’s got to give.’” He called Taylor and asked her about the program at UGM and decided to return to Spokane.

Jorian-&-Nephew-Playing-BasketballTaylor remembers the day she dropped him off at the UGM Men’s Shelter. “I felt completely at ease and was praying about it a lot. I knew it was the right thing. I was so thankful that he was on board. We went to the park and took my almost 10-year-old son to play basketball and took lots of pictures. It was good. It wasn’t dark, it was positive, and we were looking forward to it. It was the start of a brand-new journey that was going to be hard, but there was support.” The flame grew a little brighter.

The first days in the shelter were tough for Jorian. He begged his sister to let him come back, but she knew he needed to stick it out and reassured him they could visit for an afternoon and on the weekends. “I was terrified, nervous, and waiting for the call that something went wrong—he is relapsing or giving up.”

But Jorian was committed to change. The five-phase program (four months per phase) allows residents to progressively address the underlying thoughts and beliefs that drive their destructive behaviors. Jorian experienced trauma-informed counseling, group therapy, Bible study, and life skills classes. By phase two of the program, Taylor realized Jorian no longer seemed like her kid brother in conversations, but her adult brother. As Jorian continued to press into his recovery, he started contributing to her life and encouraging her to go to church, helping her son memorize Bible verses, and talking about his struggles. “Jori would talk about times he’d start getting doubtful, and he’d be able to recognize and identify when he would shut down or avoid positive things.” 

Jorian & Nephew at BaptismLast year, Taylor and her husband, Justin, asked Jorian to be the godfather of their son. “[Jorian] got baptized on the same day as my son,” Taylor tells us. “He got baptized just before him, and then he baptized my son. I got my brother back.”

From surrender to possibility to hope, Taylor and her family are witnesses to a new light that burns in Jorian’s life. After finishing program, he’s working hard to stay the course. He works at Second Harvest across the street from the shelter, moved into UGM Aftercare Housing, and runs the Wednesday LIFE Recovery meetings. Jorian and those who complete the LIFE Recovery program know that cultivating relationships with sober, like-minded people is crucial to ongoing recovery. “Just being able to be open is the one thing I put in my relapse prevention plan with Mike [his mentor] and my sister. I’m going to be open without just freaking out. Let’s talk things through.”

Special occasions with family are different now, says Jorian, and trust is being rebuilt. “We went back for a family reunion this summer. Just seeing everybody on good terms was amazing. My other sister back home—love her to death. One of her sons, my nephew, is sixteen. He’s driving, and we’re going to see movies together when I’m back there. She wouldn’t have trusted me at all [before]. Having that trust back and being able to do that kind of stuff is amazing. He’s at that age now when I lost my best friend. Now, being able to speak into his life from a healthy point of view—that means probably the most.” 

Jorian-Family

Taylor’s experience can offer wisdom to others who have a family member in addiction. “There’s such a thing as being too supportive when they’re not ready. Keep communicating, let them know that you are there, and when they want the help, you know a place. There is hope they can become the person who ends up inspiring you and teaching you things. That’s what he’s done to me. He has lit a fire for me to continue bettering myself. I didn’t even know I needed it. This Christmas, Jori’s home. He’s home for good. It’s amazing.”

 

“This Christmas, Jori’s home. He’s home for good. 
It’s amazing.
- Taylor

 

Help restore hope this winter by offering care and support for residents at Union Gospel Mission. 

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View the print version of the Winter 2023 Mission News.

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