Love, Hope & Recovery

Healing the Pain of Addiction

Joann Breeden

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ISBN: 0-931892-77-5, 272 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, paper, $12.95

If your life and relationships have deteriorated because of chemical dependency, this book is specifically for you. It is for all who have lived through devastating pain, in search of serenity.

Love, Hope & Recovery will assist anyone willing to restore relationships affected by the disease of chemical dependency. Having seen families and spouses broken apart, and then healed through love, faith, and encouragement, Joann shows how it is possible to renew one's life.

Many years ago, Joann's own family placed her in the same residential treatment center where she is now the director of Family Education Services. A stimulating and wise counselor, Joann helps the reader root out denial patterns and learn to recognize and talk about feelings while developing positive self-esteem. A detailed workbook section provides essential self-help exercises and specific skills to assist the whole family.


"Joann Breeden tells her story clearly, poignantly, and with deep compassion. With unflinching honesty, she maps out a terrain of agonizing pain and loss in her descent into alcoholism, and the slow, profound process of personal growth in recovery. Love, Hope & Recovery is a tremendous contribution to our understanding of long-term sobriety and a powerful message of hope." Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., author of Safe Passage: Recovery for Adult Children of Alcoholics

"If you yourself have struggled with addiction, take this journey with Joann and move yourself to a new level of healing. If someone you love is struggling with addiction, this book could reach them and help them begin their journey of recovery." from the Foreword by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, author of Coupleship; Another Chance; and Choice Making

Table of Contents


Part One
1. Ending of a Nightmare
2. Finding Hope - Finding Help
3. Hope in Recovery
4. Beginnings
5. Search for Love
6. Nuptial Dream.
7. Chemical Addiction / Personal Addiction
8. Chemical Family
9. Treatment - Recovery Begins
10. Following Through

Part Two
11. Inner Peace - Spiritual Peace
12. Rebuilding Relationships
13. Healing Love

Part Three
14. Personal Recovery Steps
15. Recovery Exercises

Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program of Recovery
Suggested Reading
About The Author


As I looked in the mirror, a pathetic vision of misery stared back. There was so much despair and anguish written on my face that I had to look away. My skin was drained of color and my dark hair lying across the pillow was the only contrast to the stark white walls and hospital sheets. Although I was in the hospital as a result of a fall, I kept thinking about my painful existence. Why did I feel so completely miserable and worthless as a human being? How was it possible that I had descended the road of self-destruction to certain disaster without stopping myself? What was wrong with me that I couldn't put my life together? There were no answers for me, at least any that I wanted to hear or accept.

While lying in the hospital bed, I noticed a hideous skin rash had developed on my arms from the antiseptic sheets. With growing dismay, I further examined my thin, unhealthy body. In the past two years I had lost a lot of weight, since food held no interest for me anymore. Weighing less than one hundred pounds wasn't enough for my five-foot-four-inch frame. Then I recalled my previous experiences in these havens for the sick. The few times I had formerly been a hospital patient, something dreadful usually happened to me. Little did I know that my pessimistic prediction was about to become a reality once again.

For hours I lay in my uncomfortable bed, feeling lost and lonely, with no visitors or phone calls to cheer me up. Suddenly, I heard whispering voices from the hall, so I wiped away my tears, waiting for my company to enter the room. It was probably my family; I didn't have any close friends anymore.

When the door opened, my husband John, our three children, my parents and Dr. Kerns, our family doctor, entered. No one said anything, nor did they glance at me as they quietly filed into the room. Somehow I knew something was dreadfully wrong when I looked at the somber group circling the foot of my bed. Their worried faces looked grim as they avoided looking into my searching eyes.

There was no attempt to hug me or offer condolences, so naturally I concluded that I must have some horrifying, terminal disease. Even though for years I had wanted to die, it was scary to finally realize that my time was up. Dr. Kerns spoke first, "Hello Joann. Sorry to barge in like this." In his flat, monotone voice, he continued, "Joann, your family has some things they want to talk to you about. They're concerned about you and your declining health. I understand that you don't exercise at all, or eat properly. Your entire body is deteriorating." His words sank in, tightening my stomach as if it had been hit with a baseball bat. Shocked, I knew my fate was worse than anything I had ever imagined.

Immediately it became clear to me what the gathering was all about. I knew I had been a terrible wife and mother for years, but to punish me so severely for my inadequacies was completely unfair. Panic set in as I realized that my family wished to put me away in an institution. My first thought was, "What a lousy trick, to descend upon me when I'm sick and at their mercy." And then I thought, "They want to commit me to avoid being around me."

My husband, with tears in his eyes and his voice shaking with pain, spoke next, "I care about you, Joann, but I've finally reached my limit. I want you to get help for your drinking, but if you don't, I won't stay around any more and watch you die. I didn't know what else to do, so I went to Dr. Kerns for help." Wiping away his tears, he struggled through the difficult words, "For too many years, I stood by, hoping for a miracle, but our misery only grew worse. It hurts deeply to watch our family being destroyed, to witness our children suffering so much pain. Maybe it's too late, but I can no longer ignore our misery." Even in my angry state, the agony in his face was unbearable to watch. Inside, I knew that I'd put him through hell. Closing my eyes, I stuffed my guilt deep into my pit of despair and concealed it with my solid wall of denial.

Indeed, I knew what this "meeting" was all about. A few months ago I had read one of the brochures that John had conveniently left around the house. It mentioned a family gathering called an "intervention, a time when family and friends lovingly attempt to convince a person to get help for addictions." Not only did my family want to imprison me, but they expected me to quit using alcohol. Even though I had assured them many times that I didn't have a problem with alcohol, it seemed they didn't believe me. I knew that Dr. Kerns had recently started a treatment center for alcoholics, so I suspected my family intended to put me there.

When John finished pouring out his heart and soul, he sat down, exhausted. Then each of our children, Renae, Lorene, and Don, gathered their strength one by one and told me of their distress. Crying in pain, Renae said, "I love you, Mom, even though it has been hard to at times." My son Don, weeping, pleaded with me, "I don't want you to die." Lorene told me, "You need some help, Mom." I couldn't stand watching their raw emotion much longer. It took all of my remaining stamina to keep from completely falling apart: there, next to my silent, disapproving father, was my mother sobbing and saying, "Please, Joann, go to treatment."

Even though so much pain and emotion was being expressed, I was determined not to go along with their plans. I was furious about my situation and with their condemning words. Against my will, my defenses seemed to be eroding. I was ashamed that my life had come to this terrible moment. Although my determined family wouldn't give up, all I could think about was escaping from the hospital to a place where they couldn't get me. The doctor kept the pressure on. One by one, my family elaborated in more painful detail about my ongoing battle with alcohol and how they witnessed our family falling apart.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1993

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