Turning Point's Treatment Coordinator Has Experience from Both Sides
Diane Taber is in her third year of serving as a treatment coordinator at Turning Point Programs in Grand Rapids. A treatment coordinator can wear many different hats depending on the day. Most of all, it involves just being there for anything, no matter big or small, that an individual might need.
“The treatment coordinators and recovery coaches are the backbone of Turning Point and are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Jason Boeve, Turning Point Programs Director.
That day in Dec. 2018 when Taber started working as a treatment coordinator was far from being her first time walking through Turning Point’s doors.
“I must have been in Turning Point and other facilities – this is extreme – but at least 25 times over an 18-year period,” she said.
Taber says she knew she was an alcoholic when she was 17. She started imbibing on her own and then was getting into bars while underage. She did not identify herself with the negative stereotype visualized in her head of what a drunk looks like. She was brought up going to church by two loving parents and was the eighth of nine children.
“I went on to get married and start a family and the drinking escalated,” Taber said. “When my husband and I would be having fights, I would say ‘you knew I drank when you met me and when you married me,’ and putting it more on him than taking any responsibility. I was afraid to quit.”
She entered her first treatment facility when she was 39 but did not have an impactful experience there and continued to drink upon being released. The following year when her drinking worsened, she visited Turning Point for the first time. What was supposed to be a two-week stay between detox and short-term residential got cut short when Taber – her immune system weakened due to the alcohol intake her body had been absorbing – developed a bad case of pneumonia. Following admittance to the hospital, she was drowning in her own fluids and doctors had given her a low probability to live. Against those odds, Taber came out of it and was clean for a few months before falling back into her old unhealthy habits.
From here, Taber’s story goes in and out. Sometimes she’d stay clean for a year or 18 months and other times she’d be visiting Turning Point or another facility once, twice, or even three times a year.
“I was picking up information and I enjoyed being at Turning Point. I enjoyed what they gave me as far as therapy and the groups, but I was the stubborn one. I didn’t think that this applied to me,” she says.
She recalls going to Turning Point in October 2013 and detoxing, but as soon as she got home, she started drinking again. Taber returned to Turning Point just a month later. She endured another round of detoxing and took greater awareness in the programs offered.
“I can say that the day that I came into Turning Point on the 17th of November, it was the last day that I’ve had an urge to drink and the day before is the last time I had a drink. I can only say it’s by the grace of God, that is the only reason that I’m sober.”
Taber proudly proclaims Nov. 17, 2013 as her clean date.
“It was the fact that Turning Point was still allowing me to come back and still had open arms,” she said about her last visit to Turning Point as a patient. “Even though I had been there the month before, nobody pointed fingers, and nobody looked down on me.”
Taber’s next few years included staying in a recovery home and then working inside a home, before her road led her back to Turning Point and this time, in the form of employment.
“Many of our treatment coordinators have been through recovery themselves and so they understand the ups and downs of addiction and recovery,” Boeve said. “They work here to serve those that have been cast aside by nearly everyone and have been swallowed up by their addiction.”
The sort of “no-shame mentality” Taber experienced from Turning Point as a patient is now something she embraces as a treatment coordinator.
“I remember so clearly what my first days were like. I remember the shame, the guilt, the berating of myself, no hope, and sick as a dog, and to be able to be here in the capacity that I am as a treatment coordinator, I am able to treat others like I wanted to be treated. Have the respect for the addict as well as the addiction.”
Over her three years, she’s seen firsthand individuals coming through Turning Point that are in a similar arrangement to the one she was once in. Having her own addiction story and having been through Turning Point’s programs, she’s also in a unique position to relate to those visiting the facility.
“It’s all about building respect and building that hope, because clients are not going to get anywhere if there isn’t some hope and some belief that they can do it too. When somebody is going through something, I’ve got a bit of my story that I can relate because I had been through so many different scenarios. In sharing my story and not being ashamed about it, I think it helps people garner their hope to start seeing a flicker of something. By letting the clients know where I come from and what I went through and where I am now, they can see some hope.”
“The light at the end of the tunnel has grown faint, but the staff at Turning Point helps patients realize that sometimes, it’s the darkest before the dawn,” Boeve added.
Turning Point provides hope and relief to those struggling with addictions. After individuals leave, some will call Turning Point and share how long they’ve been clean.
“There is nothing like someone coming up at the end of their stay and saying, ‘you made a difference, just talking to you a little bit made a difference, you’ve been so nice to me this whole time,’” Taber said. “Having been through Turning Point and wanting to represent Turning Point, when I get those comments, I know I’m doing my job, that even the difficult days are worth it.”
When you give to The Salvation Army this holiday season, your donation helps make sure that Hope Marches On. One of the many Salvation Army programs that ensures Hope Marches On for all who encounter it is Turning Point Programs.