creators home
creators.com lifestyle web
William Moyers

Recently

One Moment, Many Routes Louis Zamperini died this month. He was 97 years old. His life was chronicled in "Unbroken," the perpetual best-selling book by Laura Hillenbrand, so I won't repeat it. Except for the part that inspires me to write about that moment in 1949 when he …Read more. That Fork in the Road "Son is Addict." That was the subject line in an unsolicited email sent to me the other day. Unlike most of the emails I get, this one wasn't followed by the gritty, lurid details of addiction's rampage through another family; there was no anguished …Read more. 4 More Years This is what I wrote four years ago about parents who fear that their kids are involved in risky behavior: "Today's techno-driven landscape presents a whole new challenge for parents. It's hard enough to keep up with, much less keep tabs on, what …Read more. Guidance Counselors This week, I'm reminded of how important it is not to try to overcome addiction all alone and how, even decades into recovery, a veteran still gains invaluable insight from newcomers not far away from their last drink or drug. On Monday, I stopped …Read more.
more articles

Bookends

Comment

Dr. George Mann and Mel Schulstad were like bookends on opposite ends of the row. Their perspectives came from different positions. But their intent was exactly the same. George stood up for the family, while Mel did the same for the family's alcoholic or addict. Between the two of them, they did wonders to keep everyone from falling down.

George died earlier this month, and a few weeks later, Schulstad passed away. George was 88, and Mel was 93. I'm not sure whether they knew of each other, much less ever met, though such giants usually sense the ground the other walks even if their paths never cross. Both had a profound influence on me and thousands of others like me and my family. Their commitment to the cause lived to the end of their long lives.

In an earlier column, I told you about Mel. He was my hero, twice — first as a bomber pilot in World War II and then as a mentor who taught me a lot about recovery and the importance of publicly sharing our stories with others who still suffer. Mel died with 46 years of sobriety.

George, an anesthesiologist, was personally affected by addiction, too. Alcohol had made a mess of his wife, Marion, the mother of their seven children. Everything was in turmoil, but after she got treatment in 1967, both of them quickly realized how her recovery helped them all.

"As a physician, he was totally frustrated by addiction in his own family. He didn't want other families to have to go through it that way," recalls John Curtiss, who worked alongside him for many years. "His heart really was about family recovery. He knew it was a family illness and a family solution."

George took the "Minnesota Model" of 12-step-based treatment pioneered at Hazelden and put it to work in a new program at the Minneapolis hospital where he practiced, the first of its kind in a state already renowned for effective treatment.

But he built a dynamic family component, too, to allow the patient's family to get help and recover alongside the addict. It still works that way.

Then he went further, recognizing that not all addicted people could afford or even required help the way it typically was offered, in licensed facilities. This was especially true for those in relapse who already had been through several treatments.

So George, with John's help and the stout commitment of longtime members of the sober community in the Twin Cities, opened a new access portal to recovery, one outside the very program he had started at the hospital and outside the licensed treatment facility where his wife had found help decades earlier.

The Retreat in suburban Minneapolis is George Mann's true legacy, exactly because it isn't treatment. It is an innovative program designed to immerse addicts and alcoholics in the 12 steps, and it does the same for their families. As I always emphasize, the principles of recovery locked away in the head won't work unless they are practically applied in the heart. The Retreat makes this transformation happen for many people who are out of all other options. We need more Retreats. We need more licensed treatment facilities, too.

George's legacy with me is more personal. In my darkest days of sobriety — the second half of last decade — he called me often. "So how is William doing today?" he'd ask. And he'd listen long enough to make me feel better before signing off with a couple of tips to keep me sane, not just sober. He did that for a lot of people, just as Mel did on the other end of the bookshelf.

William Moyers is the vice president of public affairs and community relations for the Hazelden Foundation and the author of "Broken," his best-selling memoirs, and "A New Day, A New Life." Please send your questions to William Moyers at wmoyers@hazelden.org. To find out more about William Moyers and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM


Comments

0 Comments | Post Comment
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
Other similar columns
Dr. Sylvia Rimm
Sylvia Rimm on Raising Kids
by Dr. Sylvia Rimm
Dr. Rallie McAllister
Your Health
by Dr. Rallie McAllister
Dr. David Lipschitz
Lifelong Health
by Dr. David Lipschitz
More
William Moyers
Jul. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month