The support of family can help individuals find addiction recovery programs that fit their unique needs.
We usually think of alcohol and drug addiction as something that impacts just one person, but it can have a far-reaching effect on families. For Dan Keenan, a carpenter from Massachusetts, his battle with substance abuse had been a struggle since his teens. As his family witnessed him spiral deeper into addiction, they began to fear for his life.
“It had been challenging for my parents. It got to the point where things were pretty bad and we talked about it as a family that we thought we should say something to Dan,” recalls Jeff Keenan, one of Dan’s brothers. “We told him, ‘We really want to support you but you need to take ownership and take this step to check yourself into detox. We’ll be here to support you and to figure out how to get yourself back in the right place after.’”
Recovery often begins with a critical moment, and for Dan, that moment was prompted by his family’s realization of the gravity of his struggles. With their encouragement, he made the courageous decision to confront his addiction head-on by entering a local detox program.
“Things kept getting worse and worse. I was struggling to get through life. I wasn’t happy and finally just had enough. My family was great and very supportive. They helped me get checked in to detox,” Dan recalls of this pivotal moment in his life.
The Quest for the Right Rehabilitation
The Keenan family faced the challenge of finding a sober living program where Dan could stay after he left detox. They believed that if he were to stop abusing substances for good he would need to remove himself from his friends and former environment. However, most rehabilitation programs were financially out of reach for the family. So, they all scoured the internet for a way to help him.
Jeff, who lived in Portland, OR during this time along with their father, looked for a program near them. He found Blanchet Farm, a free program in a beautiful country setting that seemed unreal in what it offered for men looking for a place to gain sobriety.
“This is too good to be true,” Jeff remembers thinking. “I looked all around but programs were very expensive, like $3,000 to $10,000 a month. We were all willing to chip in financially, but that’s not something we could sustain. I found this unicorn in the farm but had to figure out how to make it work from afar.”
Back in Massachusetts, Dan received a call from Jeff to tell him about Blanchet Farm.
“My brother says check out this place I found. I researched it while I was in detox and thought ‘I’m going to go stay out on a farm in the middle of Oregon?!,’” Dan recalls from his apartment in Vancouver, Washington, just across the river from Portland.
On Thanksgiving Day, Dan’s family picked him up from detox and brought him home for dinner. Not wanting to risk an opportunity for him to be around alcohol or drugs or his old friends, they put him on a plane to Oregon that evening. They didn’t even stop by his old apartment. Jeff and their dad would pick him up at the airport and drive him to Blanchet Farm the next day.
The Unique Approach of The Farm
What sets Blanchet Farm apart is its holistic approach to addiction recovery. The more than 20 men residing at the farm stay active, wake up early, attend AA/NA meetings, and spend time with peers in recovery. Participants take on responsibility the first morning of their stay by caring for animals like pigs, chickens, and goats. Caring for the animals offers therapeutic benefits and helps them regain responsibility and a set schedule.
“I started with the chickens,” Dan recalls of his first days at the farm. “Walking into the chicken coop with hundreds of chickens was new. The chickens got annoying because that’s a lot of noise going on. But you’re not just sitting there in your head all day too. I think that is one of the best parts about it. A big chunk of your day is taken up with work. It’s good for your body and mind. It was a big help for me.”
The farm community also encourages participants to discover new ways to enjoy their free time without the use of substances. Unstructured hours can be dangerous for people in recovery.
Disc golf, a sport that involves tossing frisbees at a target, became an important part of Dan’s recovery. He and the other residents at the farm built a disc golf course. He and a few friends he met at the farm now participate in tournaments together on the weekends around the Pacific Northwest.
“We built some baskets and put up a little course around the farm. That was the best part of the farm. When everything you’ve done revolves around drugs one of the thoughts in my head was, ‘Will I enjoy life being sober?’” Dan says. “It’s something to do sober with sober friends. I found something that I loved to do while I was at the farm. I play all the time now and in tournaments. It’s the number one thing that I enjoy doing.”
Addiction Recovery is Inspiration for Others
The Keenan family’s experience underscores the fact that when families unite to support their loved ones in their battle against addiction, remarkable transformations can occur. Dan’s journey, backed by his family’s unwavering support, gives hope to those facing similar challenges.
“I will have 6 years in a couple of weeks. It’s not something I make a big deal about, but it really inspired me when I would go into meetings and see people get coins for multiple years, so maybe it would inspire someone else. And it’s a testament to the farm that it can help with long-term sobriety,” Dan added.
His family feels good about this journey of healing too.
“I am now closer to Dan than I have ever been in my life. This whole experience has brought us so much closer. Our relationship as a family has gotten so much stronger. That’s the stuff that really matters. I don’t know how to put a value on that,” Jeff says. “We talk about how proud of Dan we are and what an amazing turnaround he made. But we don’t tell that story without talking about the farm because the story doesn’t happen without the farm. We couldn’t be more grateful or appreciative.”
Help Rebuild Blanchet Farm!
We’re rebuilding the dilapidated dormitory at Blanchet Farm and need your help to complete construction by summer 2024. Help give more men a second chance in our free rural program. Donate Now >>