Pubdate: Sun, 09 Sep 2007
Source: Rutland Herald (VT)
Copyright: 2007 Rutland Herald
Author: Daphne Larkin, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


It was a 50-50 chance.

In 2003 the Forbes family didn't know what the outcome would be when
they let NBC's "Dateline" cameras into their lives as they struggled
to save their teenage daughter from heroin addiction.

Today, parents Thom and Deirdre Forbes use the documentary "Saving
Carrick" as a springboard to spread the word about recovery as their
daughter, Carrick Forbes, marks three and a half years of sobriety.

On Saturday the New York family will be featured speakers at
Montpelier's second annual Green Mountain Recovery Walk in celebration
of Recovery Month. They will give a presentation including portions of
the documentary, followed by a discussion.

The Green Mountain Recovery Walk, one of about 50 such walks in cities
across the country that day, is sponsored by Friends of
Recovery-Vermont. (The group also will hold a screening of "Saving
Carrick" Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. at Brattleboro's Latchis Theatre.)

The message the Forbeses will bring to Vermont next

"Recovery happens," said Thom Forbes in a telephone interview from his
home office in the New York City suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson.
"Addiction and alcoholism impacts the whole family, and recovery has
to involve the whole family."

The couple are drawing on more than the experience of watching their
daughter's journey; they are also both recovering alcoholics.

The family struggles against a history of addiction that, for Thom
Forbes, goes back to his great-grandfather and for Deirdre Forbes
"probably goes back as far as you can imagine" to her roots in
Ireland, she said.

"This really is a story that impacts every family, whether they talk
about it or not," Deirdre Forbes said. "And I think our motives were
to show it's OK to talk about it to get it out into the open, that
it's a disease and there's nothing shameful about it."

The hourlong "Saving Carrick" aired in 2005, two years after the
Forbes family began filming the real-life, real-time drama.

The couple said their daughter had begun using drugs and alcohol at
the age of 12 and that by the age of 15 she was struggling with addiction.

The documentary tells the story of how Carrick Forbes had dropped out
of high school and left home to live in an apartment in Manhattan with
her boyfriend. In 2003 she was 19, shooting up heroin every day and
struggling to pay for her addiction.

At one point Deirdre Forbes was hospitalized for three weeks for
debilitating depression. Thom and Deirdre spent days seeking solutions
to their daughter's addiction. They locked away cash and valuables in
anticipation of her visits because she had stolen hundreds of dollars
and valuable family items over the years, they said.

A high point of the film is when Deirdre Forbes testifies in front of
the New York Legislature on the importance of insurance parity, an
effort to get insurance companies to cover mental illness as
comprehensively as physical illness.

After enduring continuous cycles of detox and relapse, the parents,
who also have a teenage son, Duncan, eventually forced themselves to
cut their daughter off. They closed the front door in her face and
refused to meet her for several months.

During that time, Carrick Forbes hit bottom. After spending
Thanksgiving in jail for stealing and forging an identification card,
she began "speedballing," shooting up a deadly combination of heroin
and cocaine. By January 2004 she and her boyfriend went through detox
and entered a methadone program at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

At the end of the film it is the autumn of 2004, and Carrick Forbes is
clean from drugs and headed on a path of long-term recovery.

"What has happened in the meantime is that Carrick has found recovery,
which is great. She did it her way," Thom Forbes said. "Carrick's way
was through methadone and Bupenorphrine, and now she's not on
anything, as of June."

Now 23 years old and a student at a New England college, Carrick had
told "Dateline" that being labeled learning-disabled in kindergarten
devastated her early on, making her feel like an outsider and
beginning her path to truancy and drug use.

During the year and a half of filming, Deirdre Forbes earned
certification as a substance abuse counselor, and she now works as an
intake coordinator and counselor at a treatment facility. Thom Forbes
is a freelance writer.

Carrick Forbes will join her parents in Montpelier to discuss the
topic her father said she prefers over rehashing the past: recovery
and the future.

Thom and Deirdre Forbes said they are looking forward to learning from
the FACES Project, a grant-funded initiative through Friends of
Recovery-Vermont that involves families and addicts in the process of

What do the Forbeses tell other families struggling with

"The physical illness itself can be taken care of in the three to five
days of detox, but the whole other piece of your life that is the
psychological addiction takes everyone a long time," Deirdre Forbes

Describing family therapy for addiction as a mobile with
interconnected parts, they say that when one person goes into recovery
the others have to move in the same direction of bettering themselves.


The second annual Green Mountain Recovery Walk takes place Saturday at
the Statehouse with activities from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., including
speeches, resource booths, entertainment, children's activities and a
1.4-mile walk. From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. the Forbes family will present
portions of the documentary about them, "Saving Carrick," at the
Pavilion Auditorium, followed by an open discussion about recovery.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake