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Stories of Experience, Strength and Hope

Addiction is a Family Disease

I want to share my story of addiction and how this disease not only destroyed my family, but also saved my family. Five years ago I found out that my son was using alcohol, and every drug you could image. How did this happen? We were a very close family that spent a lot of time together. He was a very talented baseball and football player. His dad and I thought for sure he would go to college on a scholarship for one of these sports.

In the early stages of his use, my husband and I ignored a lot of the signs. I suspected at the age of 16 that he was experimenting with alcohol. I told myself not a big deal, I did the same thing, and I turned out fine. I later found out that his use of alcohol and drugs began at age 12. I had not ever experienced firsthand the disease of addiction, and had no idea how bad this would turn.

My son’s drug and alcohol use became more and more frequent, which lead to lies, and stealing. He was rushed to the hospital several times from drug overdose. One of his hospital visits he flat lined, where we were not sure he would pull through. Luckily he did pull through. As most drug addict’s stories go, he also had many criminal charges. One of his worst charges was that he could possibly be facing one year in Prison. He was not sentenced to any time in prison, which we thought was a good thing at the time. Once you are in the criminal system, it is very costly and hard to get out. This type or behavior limits the addict’s opportunities for job choices for a very long time. My husband and I made the mistake of bailing our son out of jail, and paying for his fines over and over again. He never learned the consequence of his choices.

The information I shared in the above comments is leading up to how sick I found out that my husband and I were. I now know we were as sick as he was, and needed to work on our own recovery. I remember the first residential rehab my son went to, where he stayed for 30 days. When he got out I was so happy, and saw a change in my son. I told myself “that was easy, and now my son is cured.” He soon relapsed within 2 months. For the next 4 years he was in and out of residential treatment (6 in total.) He would get out and then soon relapse. I had lost all hope. I was angry at God, why would he do this to my family if he were really there. I stopped believing in God.

During his drug and alcohol addiction he lived with us. We let him live with us even knowing he was using. One day I looked at my son, and knew I needed to get him into a treatment quick, or I was sure he might overdose again, or possibly die. By the grace of God, I know he led me to Renaissance Ranch (RR.) Here is where, not only my son find sobriety, but so did my husband and I. RR has a program for the family members that my husband and I attended every week, working the 12 steps. I still attend this meeting today in hope to share my story with new family member. (This is step 12 in giving back.) In these family meetings they teach how important it is that the addict’s families work on their own recovery. I learned in these meetings, that there is a study that shows that if the addict’s family works on their own recovery; the addict has an 80% higher chance of being sober.

My son has been sober for 1 year now. This is a huge accomplishment for us. He is a completely different person from five years ago, and so are we. I truly believe that RR helped us all find recovery. At these meeting I found God again and now have an overwhelming feeling of strength and hope. I know today that if my son ever does relapse again, I will not support him in his addiction and only in his sobriety. Today my son also believes that because my husband and I worked on our recovery and no longer enable him, that it will help him to stay sober. I am so proud of him. Today he is attending collage perusing a degree in physiology, in hopes to give back to others who struggle with the disease of addiction.

My message to those of you struggling with a loved one, who has this disease is to learn everything you can about addiction. And remember, you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, you can’t cure it, but you may have contributed to it. Work on your own recovery to help your loved one. I want to extend my love and gratitude to the Dickson’s. Christy, Rick and Tyson, thank you for all your love, support, understanding, and teaching us the meaning of the 12 steps that truly lead us to being a happy, healthy family once again.


Where do I start?

To think that I would ever

have a family member, let alone a wife that needed drug rehab, recovery, 12 steps, detox or any of these things and I would have thought you were crazy and there was no way that would ever happen to me. People that suffered from addiction were not like me or my family, those were dysfunctional homes or families where something or someone was broken.

You see I was/am the typical “perfect family.” I had graduated from college, BYU to be exact, had found a successful career and was always active in my ward(s) and my wife had everything going for her. What more could either of us or anyone for that matter want? Our marriage like I assume most, had its struggles and ups and downs, but all was good, like I shared, we were doing everything right so it seemed and we had no reason not be happy.

I cannot put my finger on the exact time or cause, but over time something changed and before I knew it, I was not happy any longer. Now for those that knew/know me this may seem crazy or not possible, because what we did great was live in a way that from the outside looking in, we were doing awesome. Not only were we doing awesome but if you were to see us out, or on social media or on Sunday, well hey we were the picture perfect young couple who had it all. The truth is though, it was not always like this, something had changed and what we had were nightly arguments, full blown yelling matches, days without real communication, lots of bitterness, and for me I believe I fell into a state of depression. I was never diagnosed with it and I hid it so well from everyone, even my kids, but I was sad all the time, felt like I was trapped in my marriage and to be honest the point where I feel it must have been the lowest, I felt like if something bad happened to my wife, that just then maybe I would have a way out.

Why do I share this with you? I am not proud of it, and I do not wish it on anyone, but I have come to find through my own personal recovery and that journey includes supporting my recovering wife with her recovery from addiction, that many like I was, may be lost and suffering alone with no clue what to do next or why they are feeling the way they do or what they did to deserve it!

The unique thing about me, and our situation is that I did not have a clue that addiction was in my family or to blame for the chaos we felt. It is a bit crazy, but when I came to know for sure my wife was addicted to pain pills, I was relieved. I now had something to blame my misery on and I no longer had to blame it on a bad wife. You see, I figured it must be my wife who was to blame. Why did she always find fault with me, why was everything an argument, why was she so mad, why so sad, why always sick? All of these why’s prior to the reality of addiction allowed me to blame her and be more angry with her which in turn made us both more “sick” in our own way and less willing to be with each other. So you can see, finding out that drug addiction was in the picture, allowed me to direct that anger somewhere and trust me I was angry, very angry.

I do not mean to share all the negative feelings and “downer attitude” but I want those hearing my story to know that I know how you are feeling. What I cannot wait to share with you is my/our story of healing and recovery!

The day my wife finally admitted that she needed professional help and could not quit is a day I will never forget. It was the first time in what felt like forever that I saw real feelings and humility and it allowed us even in that time of lowliness to connect and feel a way we had not felt in a long time. She needed me again, not the money, the house, the worldly junk, but she needed me and I actually needed her. For the first time in a long time, I felt like something good was around the corner.

Don’t get me wrong, shortly after these short lived good feelings, I too went through some times of resentment and blame and all of the sudden felt justified for my negative feelings that I had held for so long, BUT all of this quickly began to change.

My wife went through an intensive outpatient treatment program and I joined in once a week at the treatment center to work on my own recovery. Working my recovery seemed so backwards at first. Why did I have to change or work on myself, I was not doing drugs? I mean, all the issues we had over the last few years had to have been caused by her usage right? No! I realized that though I did not cause her addiction I was a very big contributor to it. I realized that when I went days without paying attention to her to “teach her a lesson” that I was actually driving her addiction even more. All the comments about the “pill popping UT county moms” oh how that must have cut deep.

Finding Freedom from Addiction with Outpatient Treatment at Renaissance RanchWhat I started to realize is that though my wife had an addiction to drugs, I too had so many character weaknesses that if I could overcome them while she overcame her addiction and of course her weaknesses, that together we would grow to understand and love each other in a way that we never could have done prior to going through this.

I recall the first night when I dropped my wife off at the recovery center, before they took her to detox, Tyson told me I would be grateful for the addiction in my home and to be patient. Well I thought he had lost his mind and had no clue, but the truth is I am grateful. I am not grateful for the pain it caused us and especially my wife, but I am grateful that it brought us to a place of real humility and a need to really access the Atonement and to meet friends that I am eternally grateful for.

It was so amazing from almost very early on to see how much my wife dove into her recovery. It was as if though she was in college and she had studies, reports, assignments and the more she studied, the more she glowed and the more I wanted to be with her. She literally changed physically through a completely spiritual experience. I give most the credit to her. She suffered all the family and relationship turmoil that I did, but along with that she carried a secret with her that caused her to hate herself and though it was never admitted to me during the addiction (remember she hid this addiction for a long time) she blamed herself and her addiction for the family’s unhappiness.

My wife literally started glowing. She loved others and forgave others like I had never witnessed, and her patience with me and the kids was very Christ like in nature. She literally lost herself in recovery and the 12 step process and became a new person.

If I could share her story of change and recovery I would, but again as a family member I want you to know that recovery is real, and there are many just like you suffering and many like me that have but have come out on the other side of addiction with a new life and a new understanding of the atonement.
Please if you are struggling or if you are a family member struggling, reach out to the Dixons, they are amazing and you will be so glad you did. There is help for you the family member of someone struggling and though the goal is for your family member to find recovery from addiction like my wife did, the truth is that you deserve happiness regardless of what your family member is doing. This is possible.

I admire my wife who is an addict, but she is enjoying long term sobriety and so am I along with her. We are still actively working a 12 step program because we know even after initial recovery, that the winds will blow and things will happen that can easily drive us both back into our ways, and we can quickly find safety and peace through working our program or recovery, which for us involves the Savior Jesus Christ and his atonement but we understand it better from working the 12 step principles.

Recovery is real. It works if you work it.

-A grateful family member or an addict in recovery. My wife is an amazing woman and I know that more now than ever.

I entered into the Intensive Outpatient Program…

here at Renaissance Ranch in June of 2013.

Upon Entering I was emotionally damaged and at a state of complete hopelessness. I have been struggling with my addiction and disease of alcoholism for 12 years. In those years I, like most addicts, had formed a toxic cycle of insanity, leaving me at rock bottom time and time again.

When I walked into the Rehab Facility for the first time I immediately felt warmth and comfort. There was an essence of peace and serenity. I knew it was the right place for me to find the help that I desperately needed. I was impressed with how the program was set up, being and Outpatient Rehab. There just the right amount of time spent at group, leaving me with enough time to maintain a part-time job and still face the challenges of addiction in our everyday life. For the most part I met with the same people also struggling with addiction. We all became very close and were able to learn, heal, and progress together, learning something new and dealing with different emotions every time. Each day of the week would have a different facilitator, Professional Therapists with years of experience in substance abuse counseling. Also having a one on one meeting with a therapist each week. It was helpful in my recovery to have that variety.

The basis of the program is the 12 Steps, taught to us at our own pace and in detail. Most importantly the program was full of Love and produced Hope. I am and will be forever grateful for the people I have met here, my healing and recovery that took place here, and the knowledge and wisdom that I gained here. Having all the tools that I learned has helped me through each passing day. I have remained clean and sober to this day and have a loving and powerful relationship with my Higher Power. Hope is very real and it is available if you seek it.”

— Jordan B.

You are never too lost…

for angels to find you,

although we might think we are. My addiction to drugs and alcohol left me alone in a dark world with no hope and I did not see a way out. Right when I was about to give up, I found Renaissance Ranch Outpatient in Sandy, Utah. “Before I found Renaissance Ranch Outpatient Treatment, I was a man who was completely lost and left without hope. I felt as if I was drowning and wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be saved or if I was even worth it. Within 10 minutes of my first day in the program, I knew and felt with my whole heart that I was exactly where I needed to be. Renaissance Ranch had given me something I haven’t had in many, many years. It has given me hope. I now wake up every day excited and can’t wait to see what life has in store for me. Renaissance Ranch literally saved my life and has given me the opportunity and tools to become the man I have always dreamed of becoming.”

— Taylor O.

Their program is divinely inspired with gospel truths,

12 steps and therapy.

It is like AA, church and therapy on steroids! The staff at Renaissance Ranch Outpatient offered me love, understanding and support. I am a repeat offender to treatment and rehab and my personal opinion is Renaissance Ranch Outpatient offers the whole package. They incorporate proven modalities of treatment with love and support for the whole family. Recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol is possible and I am alive to tell about it.

I am eternally grateful to them for helping me reignite my passion for life and my testimony and love of the Savior. I have my life and my family back.”

— Lindsay

“My husband died from an accidental drug overdose,

leaving me with small children to raise alone.

When our oldest began his own drug addiction, I was terrified I would lose him the same way. One of the hardest things I have ever done was making the choice to call the police to have him arrested for using drugs in our home. But this was the wake-up call we both needed to get his drug addiction under control. He immediately decided it was time for him to get his life back after 5 years of using substances to numb his pain. I was filled with anxiety, and sick with worry about how we would accomplish this task before us. With the help of our dear Bishop, we found Renaissance Ranch. From the moment I made the first call, I knew this was an answer to prayers. I spoke with Tyson Dixon for a while, explaining our situation and expressing my love and deep concern for my son. He was so empathetic to our situation and knew how much I was aching inside for my son. As we spoke, I could feel the heaviness in my heart being lightened and my sick feelings about the situation beginning to dissipate. He had the answers I needed, to know in my heart that things would work out.

I am so grateful that Renaissance Ranch has given our family a new hope for the future. Besides the program they have for the person suffering from addiction, they have a wonderful family support group and meetings for me to attend so that I can learn what I need to learn to get MY life back too. We are learning that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, with the help of the 12 step program, any addiction and character weakness can be overcome.

— Mae B.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to write about the good experience we have enjoyed with Renaissance Ranch.

As we struggled to determine what would be best for our loved one

we received hope from our conversation with Tyson there. The program he described seemed to make sense as the best way to give our loved one a gradually increasing share of the responsibility for improvement. As we needed to transition this individual from detox to a sober living environment we were quite surprised when Tyson volunteered to pick up and transport this person first to a physician for the prescriptions needed for a taper and then to the facility where he would live with others fighting the same fight. The peer monitoring and shared program learning and opportunities for family visits gave our loved one a tolerable challenge through the healing process and support to help fight off negative feelings that could undermine the progress to date.

I think we expected the staff to care about our struggling friend, but we did not anticipate that they would come to know this person individually and truly care about the gains and losses experienced and offer support and information to us to relieve some of the stress we encountered.”

— Thank you, Bishop W.

“I owe my life to this amazing program

and to the staff at Renaissance Ranch Outpatient

in Sandy, Utah. It is a miracle that I am still alive today, and even more so that I am sober! My addiction to drugs and alcohol took me to deaths doorstep, completely hopeless, alone and empty inside. I didn’t care whether I lived or died. I can’t begin to express how hopeless, empty and alone I felt. I truly was a broken man. Due to extenuating circumstances, I started at Renaissance Ranch Outpatient and that is where my miraculous transformation began. I had an amazing spiritual awakening that has stuck with me throughout my journey in sobriety. My awakening was a direct result of this substance abuse treatment program’s extremely unique spiritual approach. They understand the significance of spirituality and that only a spiritual experience can enable and sustain long term recovery. The loving and passionate staff were able to not only convey this message to me but reignite the desire and yearning I had for spirituality.

Today, I stand tall and do not bow down before anyone or anything, I have purpose and my life has meaning. My life is no longer dictated by fear nor am I suffocated by self-hate, rather I live by faith and I am I my own best friend. I no longer live in or obsess about the past, I look forward to the future with an eye of faith and embrace the moment. I am not perfect and I accept that. I am grateful to Renaissance Ranch Outpatient for their extensive knowledge and experience, their exceptional passion for assisting people like myself overcome what seemed like the impossible and the unconditional love they extended me, the course of my life has been forever changed.”

— Ryan D.

“Maybe you are like me and looking,

looking for the right treatment facility for your loved one

In my case it was for my husband and we were signed up to go somewhere close by and I just didn’t have a great feeling about it. 6 years prior my husband had done an outpatient rehab at a local hospital and it was enough to get him sober but he didn’t learn anything or take anything from it. That is what we signed up for again, another hospital outpatient and while this place seemed to be a little more involved than the one years ago I still didn’t have a good feeling about it. I really wanted him to be in a place where you could talk about Christ and have him involved in recovery. I knew in my heart that is what my husband needed. I went home and prayed and prayed and got online and found contact info for the Renaissance Ranch. I immediately called and even though we had not yet met in person I felt this was the right place. Tyson knew exactly what I was saying through all my tears and he told me this is EXACTLY where he needs to be. I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. We went to meet with Tyson, and at this time my husband was still unsure if this is what he wanted (like most addicts) but he met Tyson, they talked and when we left the ranch he was filled with light and hope and he couldn’t wait to start. It was a miracle, a sure answer to my prayers. The Ranch is unlike other treatment facilities. I will just share about my side. The family support was amazing. I learned so much about the DISEASE that is addiction and everything I need to know and do (or not do) to help heal our family.

I learned about working my own program and the healing that will come when I focus on healing myself and letting the addict work their own steps and let all the worries go with god have complete faith in him. The Dixson’s are so dedicated to the program and you really can feel the love they have for the program and the people. They are warm, loving, positive and upbeat. I can’t think of better people to be over this sensitive and personal type of recovery. I wish I could go into detail about all the things I learned but I already tend to give too much detail and make a 2 min story into a 2 hour one, ha ha! So let me just say that our experience was so amazing I will forever be grateful for all the staff at the ranch that led both my husband and I to this new way of life.

My husband is now a facilitator for the LDS church addiction recovery program and we hope to be missionaries one day. He is trying hard to give back and has brought new people from our area to meetings with him. He wants true recovery like he has for each one of them. I on the other side love to copy all the paperwork and give the info I learned to the family so they can help the addict the right way and heal themselves as well. It really is a family disease and everyone needs to recover. We always tell new people we hear are struggling, ‘ohh you should go to the ranch it is the best!’ We just welcomed our 4th child to our family and I can tell you without a doubt we wouldn’t be here all together right now if it weren’t for the ranch and all the tools we learned together to keep us as one eternal family. Thank you Renaissance Ranch.”

— Crystal P.

As a family member of someone who struggled with the disease of addiction

I want to give my grandest thanks to Renaissance Ranch

and all of the staff members that work so hard to make it a wonderfully spiritual place full of love, joy and recovery. My life had become completely unmanageable and chaotic as many will tell you that have had this horrible disease hit their homes. For me however, I did not know why. When my loved one was entrapped in the bonds of addiction, I was not even aware. I knew that behind closed doors, things were not good at home. Our connection with each other and our connection with our kids was unhealthy and I could not ever figure out why.

Once I came to know that addiction had taken over, I then felt even more hopeless. Even more so than hopelessness I felt a lot of anger and resentment toward my loved one for having put me through such heartache and pain. I wanted and did blame them for everything. In an effort to try anything I found the Ranch and we gave that a shot. I remember when Tyson told me that I would look back one day on this disease of addiction and be grateful that the Lord allowed it into my life. Well, that made me even more mad. How could an addict in recovery possibly know what I felt? Well, my first night at family night when the Dixon’s shared their feelings and experience and echoed this statement from their son, that I would somehow come to find peace and ultimately I would be grateful for the addiction that hit our home, I figured everyone must be crazy.

The very first night at family support, though I was not sure what was going to happen, I immediately felt connected to everyone and in some weird way felt that things would get better. WOW! Did they ever get better? I have come to look forward to family support night at the Ranch more so than pretty much anything else in that week. I absolutely love what I have learned regarding the 12 step process and how it allows each of us, both the addict and the family members to find the true healing power of the Savior’s atonement. I can now say both Tyson and his parents were right and I am grateful for addiction in my life. I do not wish anyone to have to go through the pain of addiction, but to feel the sweetness of forgiveness and understanding is so amazing that I am not sure how many people would ever come to know how sweet it is unless they felt how painful addiction could be.

I would recommend the Ranch to anyone that is in despair from the effects of addiction. You will feel love, understanding and hope like you cannot find anywhere else. I am forever grateful to Renaissance Ranch for everything I have learned there and for all the love and support given to me from all the staff members. Thank you for everything.

— E. K.
Loving wife of someone who is beating addiction and is in an amazing full-fledged recovery…

As a mother there is nothing worse than watching your child struggle.

My firstborn son, Will was experimenting with drugs in high school.

My husband and I tried our best to help him in any way we could. We quickly realized we were ill equipped to really address the issues he was dealing with. As he headed off for college, we hoped he would stop using and start fresh. Unfortunately, this was not the case. His drug and alcohol abuse worsened while he was away. We felt helpless. When Will came home for the summer, things came to a head and he finally admitted he was out of control. We knew we were not educated or prepared to give him the help he really needed. The staff at Renaissance Ranch played a key role in talking with Will and helping him understand that now was the perfect time to get the help he needed. They were firm but understanding of his situation. Will made the decision to enter into the inpatient program at RR. I felt an instant sense of relief. However, I also was terrified for him. When I dropped Will off at the Ranch, we were met with open arms. As I hugged him goodbye, I was overwhelmed with emotions. But, I knew that this was his best chance at recovery. The men there could do for him what I could not.

While Will was in the Ranch he received the best attention possible. He thrived in the brotherhood and camaraderie. His group and individual therapy sessions helped him understand his addiction and codependency. As we spoke on the phone with him, we could see subtle change over the course of his stay. He was seeing himself in a new light. He was seeing his entire family differently. The program helped him focus on healing his body, mind, and spirit. Our relationship with our son was far different than ever before. We had open and honest conversations for the first time in forever. It was refreshing and filled me with hope for a brighter future. Will spoke of changes we could make as a family to better deal with emotions. He admitted his responsibility in the situation and his new reliance on God to help heal him. My husband and I were given some invaluable reading about codependency and how it effects family dynamics. It was eye opening. We also found our way to some local AA and ARP meetings. These meetings helped us understand what was really going on and how we needed to be in recovery as well. Our relationship changed with Will but also changed with our other children living at home. Change was necessary for our success.

When Will was discharged from the Ranch and entered a sober living facility, we were anxious again. We weren’t sure if he was ready to be back in the “real world.” Once more, we were pleased with the aftercare treatment. Mandatory meetings everyday helped him remain focused while slowly trying to maintain a job and a small social life. The brotherhood has helped him stay on track and reminds him daily of what he has to do to be in recovery. We are grateful for these counselors, mentors, and peers that have helped bring about a complete change in our son. As he approaches his one year sober mark, we are absolutely thrilled with his progress. I know that we would not be here without the staff at RR. I would highly recommend anyone needing help to seriously look at their program. I cannot imagine where we would be today without it.

— Christine A.

As a father of several young children,

I wasn’t prepared to deal with my oldest son’s drug and alcohol addictions.

The reality that he was struggling with these problems at such a young age was overwhelming to me.

I love my son and was willing to do whatever it takes, but I was completely outside of my element. Fortunately, my sister knew the owner of Renaissance Ranch and we reached out to him. The staff at RR changed the course of my son’s life forever. They taught him skills & techniques that literally saved his life and will be a foundation for all of his future pursuits. Most importantly, they offered him unconditional love and acceptance through honest accountability which has helped him to heal and continue in his recovery. If you have a family member struggling with substance abuse, do whatever you can to get them into the Ranch. It will save their life!

— Dennis A.

Renaissance Ranch has been a blessing to my husband and I.

We both have learned so much. My husband has battled with a sex addiction most of his life and we had both lost all hope of his ever changing, our marriage was in trouble and we needed help. The Ranch has given us hope and has given us knowledge that has helped us to see things that we had never understood about ourselves and the addiction. I love the Ranches family recovery program which is necessary to help your loved one recover from the addiction.

— Christine H.

When my sons were struggling with a heroin addiction years ago

My husband and I were invited to attend the family group at the Renaissance Ranch Residential center.

We asked Kris Groves, the residential family group counselor, “What is the best thing we can do to help our loved ones in recovery?” She replied “Work on your OWN recovery.”

We didn’t understand that statement then, but today we are deeply grateful for the principles and information we continue to learn in family group each week.
Our sons have been clean and sober for 8 and 10 years. Our entire family is more unified, with deeper love and connection that would have ever been possible without the tools we learned at the Renaissance Ranch family group program years ago.

My husband and I are so happy to still be learning and growing today due to the principles and practices we learn from recovery principles, particularly the 12 steps, each day.