Jerry Moe, vice president and national director of children’s programs at the Betty Ford Center, says he has always tried to emulate three qualities that set the iconic Father Joseph Martin apart: his unconditional caring for the addict, his ability to use humor amid the gravity of this work, and his zeal for educating the field. That made a Sept. 23 awards presentation at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) particularly special for Moe, who received the Father Joseph C. Martin Award for Professional Excellence.
In an interview with Addiction Professional following the morning presentation of the award from the Maryland-based Father Martin’s Ashley treatment facility, Moe recalled first hearing the late Fr. Martin on a visit to Moe’s workplace, a 28-bed substance use treatment facility within a hospital program in Redwood City, Calif. “I was completely mesmerized,” said Moe, who was brand new to the field at the time.
More than a year later, Fr. Martin would return to the center and would greet him by name and ask about his work. “I did not have a name tag on,” Moe said. “I can’t begin to tell you how special that made me feel.”
He added, “After I heard him talk for the first time, I would get his schedule, and whenever he was in a 300-mile radius, I’d go.”
In directing a Betty Ford Center children’s program that has served as a model for countless other family-focused programs in treatment facilities, Moe certainly has carried on the same outward approach to the field that characterized much of Fr. Martin’s work. Yet while Moe says he is heartened by the establishment of more programs around the country that acknowledge the impact that addiction has on the children of addicts (including Father Martin’s Ashley’s own Rainbow of Hope program), he remains challenged by several obstacles that impede more progress, including:
· A lack of sufficient research in the field to demonstrate the efficacy of these programs targeting the children of addicts, something that is desperately needed in part because these are not money-making enterprises for a treatment organization.
· Programs that try to accomplish too much too fast and forget that they are working with young kids, and that also neglect to incorporate enough fun into the effort for their young charges.
· Paralyzing stigma and shame that still result in many families not showing up for day one of the program, even in instances when they had been in contact with the center the day before. “I constantly hear comments from parents like, ‘If I bring my children here and empower them, what are they going to think about me?’” Moe said.
“The general acuity we are seeing in families in recent months is much higher,” he added. “There are many co-occurring disorders in the families. Child protective services is often involved. The kids need more.”
Moe was presented the award at the conference in Anaheim, Calif., by Steve Kendrick, Father Martin’s Ashley’s chief operating officer. Kendrick said in a news release from the treatment facility, “Jerry Moe has literally changed the world one child, and one family, at a time—one day at a time.”