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“Kevin” was a registered nurse and participating in a short-term out-patient recovery program. Unlike many people who come into rehab, Kevin knew he had a problem, knew that the problem was left unchecked it would likely ruin his family life, his career and he was highly motivated to do his part. Kevin had gotten into trouble at work by supplementing his prescribed pain medication with other medications found in the medicine room in the unit. Aside from the obvious, Kevin could have faced far worse consequences had he been caught stealing these drugs, and at minimum his nursing license would have been removed.

Kevin shuffled along in his treatment, spending long periods of time alone in his hotel room, but participated in all of the group sessions and in his individual treatment time.

During a Bible study, Kevin told one of the members of the group that he was a baseball umpire, and had ascended through the ranks to work NCAA games. As it turned out, another member was also an umpire just getting started. The two struck up a conversation and soon it was decided that if the local member could find work for Kevin, the two would work a game together. The day came and the local umpire had to throw together a uniform for Kevin and the two went off to the game, some 40 miles from the treatment center.

There was nothing unusual about the game, a men’s league event, played at a nicely manicured minor league baseball park. The new umpire worked behind the plate and Kevin took the bases, using the between innings moments to encourage, instruct and coach his partner. For three hours on a Sunday afternoon, Kevin was not a drug addict, but the crew chief at a men’s baseball game. The new umpire experienced Kevin as highly skilled, confident and very experienced.

In the next few days, Kevin’s progress accelerated, and that raised some concern with one of the therapists, who believed that Kevin’s attitude was too good, that so much change had taken place that something else had to be going on. “They say I’m depressed,” Kevin told his friend. “I’m not at all depressed. I’m quite the opposite. For the first time, I feel like I’m getting better.”

Soon after the game, Kevin was discharged, but upon returning home called his umpiring buddy and told him, “A friend of mine here said that God would put somebody in my life at the treatment center and that person would have more to do with my recovery than anyone else. That was you.”

Recovering addicts can’t do it alone. It takes support, relationships. A few hours of frivolity on a Sunday afternoon, a sense of normalcy and a loving hand up from a friend made all the difference.

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