Gavan, Father of 27 year-old Wooden Graduate



Our son had lost control and it was tearing our family apart. We know now that he had started using drugs as early as junior high school and by the time he was in high school, he struggled, as did everyone who loved him and cared for him, to understand how he continued to become more distant, isolated and unhappy. He was unable to fulfill commitments. He lost friends and became distant. He deteriorated emotionally and physically. While most of his peers moved on, our son was mired in a world completely foreign to us that revolved around the nightmare that is drug addiction. We had an incredibly difficult time trying to understand how a beautiful young man with all the love and support that could possibly come from a family completely unfamiliar with addiction, would become “one of those people”. How could this happen to our family?We tried to understand. We tried everything. Counseling. Open discussions. Love and tough love. Our son was a gifted student who struggled through but managed to graduate high school. He got into a college a couple hours from home. We hoped that was the breakthrough, but within a couple of months, he returned to drugs and shortly thereafter dropped out of college and returned home. The following two years was a cycle of struggle and anguish for our son and everyone around him as his addiction became overwhelming. He was arrested and jailed then failed to complete outpatient rehabilitation. He was sent to a licensed, certified, court-approved residential rehabilitation program after which he was offered the chance to live in a sober living house. Our son promptly resumed his addiction and he was kicked out of the sober living house and returned home. The nightmare of deception, confusion and concern came to a head. He was stealing from us and others as his addiction got further out of control. I will never forget his eyes as I saw my son for the last time before he was lost to homelessness. We refused to give up hope. We searched for our son. We scoured every available source for places and programs that might offer a way out of this horrible cycle. We researched rehabilitation facilities throughout the West then came across The Recovery Ranch website. From the first time I spoke with Daniel and the guys at the Ranch, it was different. There was something special going on here. My wife and I visited the Ranch over the July 4th weekend. We were greeted by handshakes, clear eyes, meticulous and solid surroundings and direct and sobering conversation. “When you find your son, just bring him to the Ranch and we’ll take it from there”. We found our son a short time later and we struggled to persuade him to let us take him to the Ranch. He was dirty, sick and lost. I can laugh about it now, but I was honestly concerned that the Ranch wouldn’t “take” our son. Those guys we met couldn’t possibly be addicts themselves…they weren’t anything like our son.In less than two months, our son will celebrate 4 years of sobriety and we celebrate with him. He is ambitious, productive and he continues to grow and develop relationships and we are so proud of him. Success at The Recovery Ranch isn’t easy but I am here to tell you that if you have lost or are losing hope for your son’s recovery, the Ranch offers a realistic, meaningful and complete program for recovery. There are no medical professionals offering guidance; no lectures; no rye crisp, yogurt and grapes in a walled compound with “licensed professionals” telling others, in essence, to “just say no”. The traditional, medical, rehabilitation model is rarely successful. I don’t know what the Ranch website will say about the fact that the program is a program run by addicts for the benefit of addicts, but from the experience we have had, it takes one to know one. The Recovery Ranch is a program based on the, at times, brutal honesty and accountability that can only come from young men and men who understand the sort of behavior that they have seen and lived. Everyone is held accountable for their shortcomings and the characteristics that brought them to the Ranch in the first place. Lives and behavior are redirected through the honesty of one another and the fact that each is held accountable for their behavior and conduct. It is difficult to describe but the program offers hope for recovery through the growth that comes from the scrutiny of accountability. The Ranch holds itself out as a program that mandates accountability while they live as gentlemen. Well, it’s true. I am writing this not only to express my gratitude to the Ranch but to tell you that really is how the program works. When we returned to see our son roughly two months after he arrived at the Ranch, we almost didn’t recognize him. His appearance, manner, speech and demeanor were refreshing. He was warm, polite, humble and grateful. His thoughts and eyes were clear. He conducted himself as a gentleman and the same was true for the other guys we met. They maintain their personalities within the structure of the Ranch but behavior and attitudes are “overhauled”. The Ranch does not offer some fictional “rehab” in 90, 120 or 180 days. Based on my observations and experiences, behavior that results in addiction does not change on a schedule. The Ranch offers a continuity of growth up to and after graduation. The principles that make the program a success become a part of their lives. Graduating from the Ranch is not an end to the relationship. Graduates continue to grow and some become Wooden Graduates. The Ranch operates several businesses in and around Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara that provide opportunities to learn and work and develop the skills, attitudes and ethics to improve their lives. The Ranch program is hard work but they also make time for trips and outings, golfing, backpacking, to the beach and to Lake Tahoe. There are family BBQ’s. Many graduates return to the Ranch and join in these activities and many remain connected to the Ranch in a variety of capacities through their work and as mentors for those new to the program. Our son now lives and works in Santa Barbara. He is a joy to be with. He is motivated, humble and introspective. He is grateful. He is physically and emotionally fit. We were lost 4 years ago at this time. This testimonial is meant to say thank you to Daniel Ross and the Recovery Ranch for the role they played and continue to play in the change that has and continues to take place our son’s life and ours.

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