Magazine article Addiction Professional

A New Dad, Nine Years Later

Magazine article Addiction Professional

A New Dad, Nine Years Later

Article excerpt

Memories of the explosiveness of Bradley Hieb's relationship with loved ones and with drugs reinforce how fortunate he now is to be in a position to be a real Dad. Hieb, 29, has benefited from an emerging focus in residential treatment on strengthening the parental bond.

Most of the parent-focused programs that have existed for a while in the addiction treatment community serve mothers, but Hieb spent the better part of two years in an innovative Fathers and Children program operated by Odyssey House in Salt Lake City, Utah. And now since July, Hieb has worked full-rime as an Odyssey House case manager.

One of his first observations after entering the Fathers and Children program as a patient: "Look at all these Dads acting like Moms," he recalls.

The difference between this program and the traditional adult treatment that Hieb had encountered was immediately noticeable. "The atmosphere was different; it was all about the kids," he says. "From the beginning, I looked up to and respected the other fathers. They would say, 'Don't do this, because the kid could get hurt."'

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Past struggles

With precise detail, almost in documentary-like fashion, Hieb relates the specifics of substance use and associated problems that for him started with a party lifestyle in high school. He bristled at his parents' rules and moved out of the family home before graduation, soon moving in with a girlfriend whom his family did not want him to see. When his girlfriend became pregnant with their daughter, Hieb adopted the mindset of "needing to get the partying out before the birth," he says.

A sheet metal worker, Hieb cleaned up for a while after his daughter was born, changing shifts at work to accommodate child care and buying a house. But his relationship was troubled, and he says he turned to substances to feel OK after learning that the mother of his child had cheated on him. (The couple was married for three years; Hieb's daughter is now nine and he also has a six-year-old son.)

After his divorce he began allowing many friends, and cocaine, into his house. "Everything started crumbling real quick," Hieb says. There were missed opportunities to turn it around. At one point, after a co-worker's tip, he was asked to take a drug test that resulted in a suspension, but he says he faked his way through counseling and never stopped using.

Meanwhile, the fights with the mother of his children continued. …

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