I’ve never been one to believe in angels. I believe in good people, kindness, and empathy, but angels were always for someone else.
That all changed when my daughter was 15. She was depressed and having panic attacks – we were at a loss as to what was behind them. Later, we learned they were in part due to her abuse of prescription drugs, but more precisely to her feelings of hopelessness and being out of control.
Immediately after we found out about her drug use, her father and I enrolled her in a rehab program that came highly recommended by the district. We wanted to get her into therapy as soon as possible, and fortunately for us, there was a meeting that night.
We arrived at the session having no idea what to expect. After being welcomed warmly by the staff, teens and parents were segregated into separate rooms.
When we’d all settled into seats, a tall, pony-tailed man wearing jeans and cowboy boots walked to the front of the room. He casually sat on top of a desk, looked out at all of us and introduced himself as Cary Quashen – a high-risk teen counselor.
I didn’t know it then, but Cary would be instrumental in saving my daughter’s life.
Cary talked about his passion, an organization he had founded called Action Family Counseling. Cary, himself a recovering addict 26 years sober, has dedicated his life to working with troubled teens and their families. His strong yet approachable demeanor instantly inspired confidence.
The transformation we witnessed over the next 6 weeks was remarkable. ACTION was not your typical therapeutic program – it was a liberating community – one that provided a safe place to share pain, joy, and tears, without judgment or condescension.
We were all united by our love for our children and having no idea how to support them when they were out of control. Cary explained that our kids would get better – when we became better parents.
During the final half hour, parents and children were reunited to witness new members make the commitment to become and stay sober, and to see others awarded for maintaining their sobriety. Parents were asked to publicly congratulate their kids on their progress. Hugs and cheering were encouraged; tears (which were plentiful) were voluntary.
As the weeks progressed, we watched a roomful of addicts learn new and healthy ways to cope with life’s challenges. We all wrote and signed contracts with our kids, clearly defining poor behavior and laying out specific consequences.
Many who were doing well for a time relapsed, which we learned was all part of the recovery process. The collective group of parents and kids would offer encouragement to begin again, without judgment and with 100% support.
My husband and I always left ACTION feeling energized and hopeful.
Late one night during her treatment, my daughter called me from her room at her dad’s house, terrified because she was having suicidal thoughts ( this is a call no parent EVER wants to receive.)
After talking her “down” and convincing her to go find her father, my next call was to Cary Quashen.
He answered on the first ring and offered to talk to my daughter right then. His calm reassurance and strength helped us through the moment, and, we believe, prevented her from doing herself permanent harm.
We have had a first-row seat to the kind of “tough love” required to get through to troubled teens. I’ve never seen such devotion and caring for adolescents as I’ve seen from Cary and his staff. He is truly a wonder, though will shy away if you compliment him, explaining that he simply understands what these kids are going through, and wants to educate them early – to have an impact on them so they can lead long and happy lives. He is succeeding.
After our transforming experience with ACTION, our daughter recovered, but more importantly, so did we.
Oh, and in case you haven’t figured it out – Cary was OUR angel.
To learn more about Cary and ACTION Family Counseling, use these links to hear podcasts of his weekly “Families in Action” radio show on AM 1220 KHTS and Santa Clarita’s local SCVTV.