Courtney Engels, Clay and Julie’s daughter and an ARISE Intervention intern, rounds out the Roots Collaborative team, providing a unique perspective for adolescent and young adult clients and their families. Wise beyond her years at 21, Courtney been in recovery for over five years and clean and sober for two. She’s held multiple positions managing sober living programs in Los Angeles, and currently serves as a program mentor at Casa Bella, a recovery program for women. There are very few “off-limit” topics, allowing Courtney, Clay and Julie to model what healthy family relationships can look like in recovery and the process by which they’re built.
By aged 15, Courtney was in the throes of addiction with anorexia being her primary illness, winding up hospitalized in UCLA’s Psychiatric Adolescent Inpatient Program by 16. Once her weight and vitals stabilized, she was transferred to longterm residential treatment specializing in eating disorders where her mind, body and spirit could begin to heal. The family network circled Courtney, participating in groups, counseling sessions, family weekends, field trips and visiting hours. A blended family with two sets of parents and kiddos, the Engels and Mayo clan often filled the room, learning about themselves, the illness, and how they could start to be truly collaborative to help Courtney’s recovery.
Like many young people who find themselves struggling from an early age, Courtney still had experimenting to do. Upon turning 18 when her parents had no legal hold over her choices, Courtney ran fast and hard using a lethal combination of cocaine, meth, heroine, valium, alcohol, marijuana and Molly. Within 30 days, there was a warrant out for her arrest, and going back into treatment, this time for substance abuse, seemed like a better option than jail. The boundaries learned in Al-Anon were instrumental in Courtney’s decision to participate differently in her recovery. Between her family’s unwillingness to enable her illness and a potential felony charge, she could see the writing on her future gravestone: that is how bad her addition had grown–she’d become insatiable. There were a few more bumps in the road before her current sobriety, but Courtney is grateful for each and every challenge, for she’s fully surrendered and has created a life she’s excited to share with her family, her boyfriend, Tyler, and her community. Our clients share that Courtney’s story brings them tremendous hope; helping them to realize that going to treatment is not always a “one-and-done” experience, and that relapse can be instrumental in building sobriety andsustainable recovery.