IT MUST BE 2021 –

Feb. 25, 2021 – As a Hazelden Betty Ford Trustee, Susan Ford Bales, daughter of former First Lady Betty Ford, is proud to have Dr. Lee taking the esteemed institution’s helm. Discussing his appointment, she says with conviction, “Humility, empathy, grace and love—those are the values that define Dr. Lee the most. They’re also values that were important to my mother during her 33 years of recovery… Dr. Lee is a deeply thoughtful and insightful person who understands the human condition, the needs of the human spirit, and the power of community and connection.”

As the author of Recovering My Kid: Parenting Young Adults in Treatment and Beyond, Dr. Lee is nationally known for his work with teenagers. As a front-line doctor, he has seen how addiction and mental health conditions tear families apart for many years. Answering a question about the trauma behind addictive disorders from the Addiction Recovery eBulletin, Dr. Lee brings up the lasting effects of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Most people now understand that people suffer alone and that people heal together…  Still, there is a kind of universal pain… Part of the solution is to build a network and try to engage people at where they are at. You’ve heard that term before, but I’m going to use it a bit differently. It’s not just meeting people where they are at from a psychological state of mind. We have to be more creative about engaging people in treatment wherever they’re at, quite literally, from a physical perspective, that’s going to involve a lot of virtual services and technological advancements.”

In other words, you have to find a way to reach people and bring them together in their microcosms, regardless of the difficulties being faced in the greater macrocosm.

Dr. Joseph Lee on the Legacy of the Pandemic in the Recovery Industry

Despite these services, Dr. Lee knows the post-pandemic challenge will be a big one. Beyond embracing diversity and focusing on inclusion, the root mental health challenges need to be addressed. Even if COVID-19 goes away as a physical health threat, becoming more like annual flu season or the common cold, the pandemic’s lasting mental health impact will remain.

Pondering this difficulty, Dr. Joseph Lee states with an undeniable passion, “On its tails, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth another pandemic—a pandemic of despair, suffering, loneliness, depression and overdoses. We’re seeing escalating needs firsthand at Hazelden Betty Ford and expect them to persist for months and possibly years to come.”



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