Laurie and Keegan Wicks visited our class to discuss family recovery. Keegan has been in recovery for eight years and works with The Rase Project, which is an organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania that helps people who have substance use disorder access services. Keegan said him and his peers work as “gap fillers” to address areas where treatment systems typically fail people who are trying to enter recovery.

Laurie, Keegan’s mother, works as a recovery advocate for the Pennsylvania Parent Panel Advisory Council, a state-established board of parents whose children have been affected by substance use disorder. The panel studies access to treatment and makes recommendations for how to improve accessibility.

The mother and son touched on some of the challenges they faced when Keegan entered a treatment facility at 17 years old. Upon Keegan’s arrival, there was a 10-day “blackout period,” during which his family was unable to have any contact with him. Laurie said it was difficult to be separated from her son for that time, and no representative from the facility explained why she couldn’t see him.

While at the treatment facility, Keegan finished the requirements necessary for him to graduate high school. Weeks later, instead of walking at graduation with his peers, he put on his cap and gown and visited the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland with his family to celebrate.