By Alisa, Mother of a 26 year old Wooden Graduate


Testimonial for Recovery Ranch… I know this sounds dramatic, but parent’s whose children struggle with addiction will understand me when I say, Recovery Ranch saved my son’s life….


I will never forget the day (September 1, 2014), when a friend asked me if I noticed anything different about Nick’s behavior.  He hadn’t seen Nick for over a year, and didn’t immediately recognize him due to his physical condition and mental state.


I didn’t understand what was happening with Nick - wondered for several months what was causing the changes I’d noticed in my son…losing weight, paranoid, erratic, I blamed it on personal problems he was having…health issues, his depression after his dad passed away, a health scare with his girlfriend (?) - I now know that I was in over my head and was in denial about what was going on in Nick’s life.


Nick was a vibrant, athletic, intelligent young man, who had just graduated from UCSD.


His dad passed away in 2002 after a battle with cancer, and it devastated him and our family.  I did what I thought was right at the time and poured everything I could into supporting and protecting our two young children, Nick and his younger brother.  I made excuses for Nick when I found out he was drinking in high school, passed it off as normal teen behavior.  Heard rumors of drug use while he was away in Santa Barbara going to school, but he denied anything serious, said it was just college ‘experimenting’.


Nick was very active in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, and I believe that’s where his use of opiods began.  Prescription drugs for pain relief became a daily habit, I found out later.  Use of amphetamines to balance it out, plus excessive drinking.  Nick was on a literal death spiral and I was blind to what was going on.  Who wants to believe their child is an addict?  I certainly didn’t think he was, I believed him when he told me that he was chronically sick because of walking pneumonia, stress, depression - not realizing that drug use was causing his illness.


I received the best advice the day my friend told me Nick was a ‘tweaker’.  Call a drug counselor friend of his (he is a recovering addict himself), before I talk to Nick.  The counselor works with the court system in San Diego county, mostly with teens and young adults that are required to complete rehab.  She asked me how strong could I be to fight for my son’s life.  I told her I’d do whatever it takes, and she told me to make sure I meant that, because when I drew a line in the sand with Nick, I couldn’t let him cross it.


The three longest days of my life led to the three longest months of my life, which led to the past 2.5 years, some of the happiest times of my life watching Nick accept recovery and finally embrace it.


Three long days while I waited and watched Nick and gathered strength to give Nick two options - go to rehab or leave my home.  His best friend from college recommended Recovery Ranch for Nick after his brother embraced recovery at the Ranch.  I researched it, spoke with one of the brothers about how to get Nick there.  He told me when Nick says he’s ready, drive him up and they would help.


Three long months between the time Nick chose to leave my home rather than admit he was using drugs or go to a recovery program.  Three months of watching my first born son live in his truck, waste away to a thin, paranoid, full blown drug user.  This young man with so much potential, support and love, dying before my eyes.  Nick was spiraling down fast and I didn’t think he would live another 3 months based on his health and mental state.


December 4, 2014, Nick called me and told me he was ready for help.  I called Recovery Ranch and they said don’t wait another second, get him up here!  We left and midnight, and the next day, we met the brothers (all 60+!), and Nick started on his road to recovery.


Of course Nick didn’t want to stay there, pulled me aside and told me he’d go to a different program, get help, see a therapist, just let him think about it, don’t leave him there.  I knew that I couldn’t help Nick, he needed something I couldn’t give him - the support of recovering addicts, to be held accountable for his actions, mentoring.  Nick needed to grow up, and I couldn’t help him do that.  Jared and a few other brothers took Nick aside and let him know that he was safe, they were there to help him, and Nick hugged me goodbye.  I cried tears of relief all the way back to San Diego.


I’ve said this so many times, to so many friends and family members - I dropped off a boy at Recovery Ranch on December 5th, 2014, and have watched this amazing transformation of Nick becoming a man.  Not just a man, but someone that invests himself in the well being of others.  Nick has a strong work ethic,  is polite, thoughtful, honest, and has learned everything from how to scrub a toilet, fold clothes, serve those less fortunate, build things, repair stuff, and how to set up a marketing program for one of the businesses at The Ranch, really so much that I can’t list it all.


I won’t lie and say it hasn’t been a bumpy recovery road for Nick or his family as he has embraced recovery.  I received more than one phone call from Jared, Mark, Daniel, or another brother that Nick had walked off and was heading back to San Diego.  Or a multi-brother conference call with me and Nick, with Nick telling me he was leaving, and they wanted him to tell me personally.   Over the past 2.5 years, the strength, love and commitment of the brothers at Recovery Ranch to Nick and his sobriety has been heartwarming and miraculous.


Thank you Daniel, Jared, and all of the brothers at Recovery Ranch for saving my son’s life!


With all my love,

Alisa Trejo

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