original doc martens an unconventional trail to recovery
Elly, 18, who had once spent hours in front of a makeup mirror, “was filthy,” her mother said. “Her teeth were disgusting, and she probably weighed 105 pounds.”
And even after a two week methamphetamine binge, Heidi said, Elly didn’t want to get clean.
“She told me she was a junkie and she liked drugs,” Heidi said.
So, it was clear, the family interventions hadn’t worked. The Narcotics Anonymous meetings weren’t enough. And the “tough love” that Heidi had reluctantly tried locking Elly out of her own home had backfired.
But just as Heidi realized that she had to do something to help her daughter something drastic she realized there is only so much the parent of an adult addict can do.
She couldn’t make Elly want to get better or stay in a recovery program.
She could only guide her away from drugs and toward some sort of refuge.
The solution she latched onto, the one that seemed to best suit her unconventional family, was inspired more by the 2014 movie Wild, about a long, soul cleansing hike, than by her training as a registered nurse and most of all by the desperation of sleepless nights.
The only way to rescue her daughter, she decided, was an extended backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail,
“I don’t want to be one of those mothers who do nothing,” she said, a week after finding Elly and three days before leaving for Georgia.
“And I don’t want to sign a $60,000 loan for a program and then have her walk out. . . . My hope is, we go away for 30 days, and she comes home clean. Then maybe she’ll be willing to go to a real program and actually work on her stuff.”
is not a new idea or necessarily a crazy one.
Several companies offer wilderness interventions for troubled or addicted young people, said Christine Martens, the head guide for the Blue Ridge Hiking Co. And during Martens’ end to end hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2010, she met several military veterans using it as balm for post traumatic stress disorder.
“People definitely seek that kind of adventure when they are lost in life in some way,
” she said.
Dr. Theo Carroll, a Sarasota psychotherapist and an adjunct professor in the department of rehabilitation and mental health counseling at the University of South Florida, said recovery requires removing addicts from their drug using friends.
Exercise is beneficial, as is a sense of accomplishment. Extended hikes are worthless if addicts return to “their same, old toxic social network,” Carroll said.
“But it could be a decent jump start.”
Thursday before departure, nylon sacks full of gear and neatly labeled Ziploc bags of food were stacked on the kitchen table of Heidi’s sparsely furnished double wide in Spring Hill.
On the front porch, she, Elly and her brother, Jakob, 20, talked about the long path they had already taken, their journey to this point.
Heidi said people who know her probably wouldn’t be surprised by the impulsive pursuit of her plan quitting her temporary job at the Oak Hill Hospital emergency room; scrambling to buy a camp stove online, cases of Ramen from Walmart and sleeping bags from Target; enlisting Jakob to join them on the “Hike to Recovery,” as she called it on a hastily built GoFundMe online account; setting a departure date for only 10 days after finding Elly Mother’s Day.
“I’m kind of a crazy, free spirited person,” said Heidi, 48.
In the driveway were the motorcycles she and her fiance, David Lowe, like to take on long weekend rides, images of which Heidi in jeans and a leather jacket, bandana and mirrored sunglasses dominate her Facebook page.
Because she valued the freedom to move from town to town and the higher wages, she has spent most of her career working as a contract nurse.
She kicks herself because she doesn’t have insurance or savings.
She has never been good at discipline, she said: “I’ve fought myself a lot about that because I was very permissive. I was a caver.”