On the path to sobriety
A young woman finds renewed hope at the Brook

Debra Friedman

When Debra Friedman was a junior in high school, her mother found her passed out on a park bench, unconscious from alcohol poisoning. Just a few years later, she almost died from a heroin overdose. Debra recalls these traumatic moments as punctuation marks in her long history of alcohol and drug abuse. "I started drinking when I was 13. In high school, I faked migraines so that I could get prescription pain killers. I smoked pot. I stole my sister's Adderall. I spent my parents' money on cocaine."

Although Debra had tried many residential and rehabilitative school programs throughout her adolescence, it was not until she landed at the McLean Center at Fernside that she began to get control of her drug use. Fernside's extended-stay model worked well for Debra and she stayed sober after her discharge. A year later, however, as is often the case with addiction, she experienced a relapse. Fortunately for Debra, the McLean Residence at the Brook had just opened and its medical director, Timothy Benson, MD, was also Debra's therapist. He urged her to try the new program. "Being newly sober was always very challenging for me. I had difficulty doing it on my own," Debra admits. "But Dr. Benson assured me that the Brook would give me the structure I needed to help me build my life. He was right. It was a perfect stepping stone for me."

At the Brook, Debra had both the flexibility and support she needed to stay sober as she transitioned back to a healthy life. "It put me on target in the ways of living an honest and productive life—how to be a good person, how to have relationships, how to stay active and be responsible," she says. The caring and attentive staff, she adds, was "the best in the world."

As the Brook's first "graduate," Debra is proud of the work she accomplished there and the progress she is making. She is in a committed relationship, takes long walks and enjoys going to Boston Celtics games. "This is the best I have ever felt," she says.