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Employee Spotlight: Meet Our Family Engagement Specialist, Ronald Burgess

We have so many talented and dedicated employees at Spectrum Health Systems, and we want to make sure that we take the time to express our gratitude and highlight all of the amazing work they do for our clients. Today, we share a conversation with our Family Engagement Specialist Ronald Burgess.

Family members often find themselves at a loss to understand the nature of their loved one’s addiction, and why they might relapse even after receiving treatment. They may not realize just how much of a difference they can make in their loved one’s recovery process. Family Engagement Specialists like Ron work with families to help them understand that addiction is a disease, not some kind of moral failing or simple vice. People struggling with addiction need and deserve the support of those around them. Ron works with family members so that they can be a source of strength and comfort.

Within 48 hours of admission, Ron will connect with both the client and their family or close friends. He’ll answer any questions and makes sure that family members are aware of the Family Renewal Program which provides more in-depth education about drug and alcohol addiction and why family engagement is an important aspect of treatment. A big part of his role is to serve as an educator, a guide, and a facilitator. Depending on the client’s history, Ron can act as a mediator and help the client and their family reach a place where they can understand, communicate, and help each other.

After connecting with the client and family, Ron will facilitate family sessions along with their case manager to discuss Family Recovery. Often, it’s hard for family members to understand how their loved one became addicted in the first place. Ron helps them understand that addiction treatment is not about assigning blame or pinpointing a cause – addiction is a disease of the brain, and anyone can be susceptible to it.

“The typical ‘What’s wrong with you?’ mindset is common,” says Ron of families beginning the process, and he has to help guide them away from that. The client also needs to understand that, whether or not it was intentional, they may have caused their loved ones a lot of pain over the years.

“Pain resulting from years of their loved one’s engagement in addictive behaviors,” Ron explains, “has led to severe resentment that sometimes takes years to make amends for and understand.”

It isn’t an easy process, but the results are so rewarding. It really makes a huge difference in helping someone maintain long-term recovery when they have a loving and supportive environment at home.

As far as the future of addiction treatment in America goes, Ron says: “We didn’t come this far to just come this far.” So much great work has been done, especially in recent years, to de-stigmatize addiction, develop new treatments, and make it available to everyone who needs it. It’s great to see how much positive work has been done, but there is still more to do. Ron is thrilled that Spectrum has been innovative in making Family Engagement an integral part of its addiction treatment and recovery process, and he would like to see treatment centers across the nation do the same.

Family Engagement Specialists like Ron make a huge difference to the work we do at Spectrum Health Systems, bringing families in to help clients on their journey towards recovery. We’re so pleased that Ron is part of the Spectrum family!

If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol or other drug addiction, call Spectrum Health Systems today at 1-877-MyRehab. Also be sure to attend one of our Family Education forums to learn more about the nature of your loved one’s addiction and how you can support their recovery efforts.

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