“21” ~ Patrick Roche’s Poetic Look In His Rear View Mirror

Meet Patrick Roche…

There is a pretty good chance you don’t know Patrick Roche. But you should know that he is preparing to graduate this month of May from Princeton University and he has 27,470 Likes on his Facebook (FB) page, Patrick Roche Poetry.  Oh, yes, and Patrick is a poet. We invite you to popover to his FB page and read a few of the messages left by his FB followers. It will give you a feeling of how his poetry is touching others. Here are some samples:

“You took my breath away, Patrick. I can’t remember the last time poetry has moved me so. Thank you. My name is —. I am an addict. Today I am sober.” 


“Even if you never write another poem like the two I just watched, you’re still touching thousands of people. You’ve done more than most hope to accomplish in a lifetime. You’re brilliance will never be forgotten.”

How we came to learn about Patrick Roche

We are always looking for interesting news to bring our readers and yesterday we came across an article about  the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). This organization is celebrating its 100th year:

ACUI is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together college union and student activities professionals from hundreds of schools in seven countries. Its members work on urban and rural campuses, in two-year and four-year institutions, and at large and small schools. They are students and administrators whose mission is to build campus community. ACUI enriches them all through education, advocacy, and the delivery of services.

This past March their 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) was held at the University of Colorado – Boulder, Boulder, CO.  Patrick Roche was in attendance representing Princeton University and he took Third Place for Best Persona Poem for his “Siri: A Coping Mechanism.”

But it was Patrick Roche’s “21” that caught our attention…

Growing up with an alcoholic can be harrowing and as the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) explains one in five children in the United States have lived with an alcoholic relative:

“In general, these children are at greater risk for having emotional problems than children whose parents are not alcoholics. Alcoholism runs in families, and children of alcoholics are four times more likely than other children to become alcoholics themselves. Compounding the psychological impact of being raised by a parent who is suffering from alcohol abuse is the fact that most children of alcoholics have experienced some form of neglect or abuse. A child being raised by a parent or caregiver who is suffering from alcohol abuse may have a variety of conflicting emotions that need to be addressed in order to avoid future problems.”

Children of alcoholics grow up to be adult children of alcoholics and sometimes they grow up to be alcoholics. This is just one reason that you will often come to understand that addiction is a family disease. It affects every family member.

Patrick Roche is a child of an alcoholic. We invite you to watch Patrick as he recites (performs) his poem “21” at the CUPSI event. “21” is Patrick’s proverbial look in the rear view mirror, starting with his father’s death and going back in time to Patrick’s birth. The story moves quickly…listen carefully.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Patrick’s words shine a light on the importance of Cottonwood Tucson’s Family Program

A few years ago one of our alumni sent a letter to let us know how they were doing. The alumnus closed the letter as follows:

“A highly skilled family therapist led us and other families through the cathartic process of safe and honest confrontations. The experience of family week solidified my recovery, and connected my family in ways I never thought possible. Four years sober, and full of gratitude, I cannot imagine my life without the gift of Cottonwood.”

Cottonwood’s Family Program includes:

  • Education. The first two days of Family Program are an acquisition of knowledge about psychiatric disorders, neurology, addiction, and communication.
  • Communication training. Using a psychoeducational approach, members are taught to develop effective communication statements that include affect, behavior, and context.
  • Communication enactment. Using a structural family therapy framework, the members are facilitated in their sharing of concerns, appreciations, goals and commitments, and boundaries.
  • Multiple Family Groups. A small group composed of several different families normalizes the struggles of families with addiction or mood disorders. Members learn from each other, and they share feedback with each other, about what they see, feel, and hear happening in the communication.
  • Individual attention. Individual and family sessions and education are set up as needed to facilitate the loved one’s return to the family environment.

Some final thoughts…

It is usually when a loved one finally seeks treatment that the entire family realizes how drug addiction, alcoholism and behavioral health disorders impact every family member. Participating in a week of Family Program will give every member of the family the tools to begin recovery. Sometimes those tools are writing, journaling and yes, even, poetry.

Today we would like to thank Patrick for telling his powerful story. Go ahead, start the conversation recovery is possible.

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