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An Interview with Keith Fierman

Keith Fierman is Director of Family Support and Public Relations at Cirque Lodge in Provo, Utah. In the rapidly, and thankfully, evolving landscape of addiction recovery, Fierman is in a prime position to reveal the facts about the disease to a great number of people. Still too many consider addiction a choice, a series of bad decisions gone awry, and worst, a weakness. The stigma is one of the remaining walls between millions who need help and the normalization of readily available, comprehensive, more affordable care.

Often, compliance, understanding and work on the parts of family members have the potential to increase the likelihood of successful recovery for their loved one. Fierman illuminates for these families the balance between necessary boundaries and the need to heal together. His approach has always been rooted in love, compassion and strong logic. Over the past three decades he’s been able to help families reconnect or connect for the first time in powerful ways.

His disposition is calm but engaging. I’ve heard multiple colleagues of his drop the name Atticus Finch in reference to him. Maybe it’s the seersucker suit that he’ll sport on occasion. Perhaps it’s the tortoise framed Oliver Peoples spectacles. The classic southern dialect doesn’t hurt, as well, but I would argue that it’s the ability to clarify complex situations with a single statement. My hopes in interviewing Keith Fierman were to help spread his message even more, because according to statistics about the disease of addiction, vastly more people need help than are recognizing the need and seeking care.

What do your tasks include in your roles for Cirque Lodge?

I work with families before they come into Cirque Lodge, first and foremost to see if we’re the right fit. Then, once in, I work with families to get them the right recovery. As far as public relations goes, I travel extensively and work with people and speak around the country and the world.

What led you to your career in addiction recovery?

What led me, I guess first and foremost, was my own recovery; it’s what got me interested in the field. Where I am now though, when I retired from my career as an interventionist, I wanted and needed to still work, and I loved what Cirque Lodge is doing, so I trucked across the country, and here I am.

Why the switch from interventions to a treatment facility?

For many years I was traveling an average of 250 nights a year, working literally all over the world with families. I needed to have a life.

What’s the biggest challenge in working with families to get their loved ones into treatment?

One would be enabling. Families will put up boundaries and let them dissipate. Basically getting families to stay compliant with therapeutic suggestions is the biggest challenge.

You don’t have to wait until someone hits bottom; we can raise the bottom to them.

I’ll say it like this, first off, that you can’t get help without hitting bottom is kind of a myth, so a lot of families wait so long before they pull the trigger to do anything. Secondly, when families hit bottom and are willing to do what it takes, then usually their loved one will accept help, and their bottom may include any number of things, such as boundaries and enabling. Finally, just stepping in with love and support; getting them to see that they can have more power with love than they probably think.

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