Grateful for the crash and burn

By Dr. Scott Basinger

Themes: 1.“as you understand God” & 2.“here are the steps we took” & 3. service

My story begins after my father left for two years in the service, shortly after I was born. Leaving me with a mother who was depressed and lonely. The outcome of which made me develop a fear of abandonment. I remember inventing an imaginary friend to keep me company, and later thinking I was adopted. In early adolescence, I was fearful that my parents would leave and not come back to the house. These feelings lead to my coping behaviors of people-pleasing and trying to be the “good boy”. By the time I was a teenager, these coping behaviors failed, and I began using alcohol at the age of 14. I drank regularly throughout college and graduate school, which no doubt contributed to my failed marriage.

I began to really enjoy my status, and the single life when I took a job in Houston, at Baylor College of Medicine. I was at the pinnacle of my academic career. After working hard to get to that place, I decided it was time to have some fun, and that fun led to an increasingly out-of-control lifestyle. I got heavily involved with alcohol and cocaine, and used cocaine extensively for eight years until my intervention in early 1988.

Why did I transition to this lifestyle? I was challenged by my success in 1978, and felt like I was unworthy and couldn’t keep it up. Again, not feeling comfortable in my own skin. Playing in this arena led to some dramatic consequences. I stopped paying my mortgage, my home was foreclosed, and I ended up living in my own foreclosed home. By the end of 1987, I was $250,000 in debt, with multiple lawsuits, and arrest warrants for bad checks. I was living in total fear and anxiety.

Thankfully, friends at Baylor College of Medicine interceded and “tricked me” into my own intervention. That miraculous event took me to treatment, where I stayed for six weeks, followed by six weeks of sober living. My institution supported me throughout treatment, and then back to work, which is something I’ll always be grateful for. However, I had a contract saying that if I screwed up once, I’d be gone and never work in the medical field again. I’ve been sober ever since that intervention, and frequently use contracts as part of my Intervention/Recovery consulting business today.

Between 1988 and 1993, I changed my career. I went from active medical research, to becoming a dean at BCM. After 20 years as a dean, counseling students and faculty, I partially retired and accepted an offer to found the Hope and Healing Center and Institute. My intervention/recovery practice continues, and I worked a year part-time at the Memorial Hermann Prevention & Recovery Center giving lectures on addiction and facilitating a P&E group.

I have everything back now -- and more. Everybody’s ‘rock bottom’ is their own, but I wouldn’t trade mine for anything because it’s what I needed. I was desperate at the end. I didn’t have the courage or willingness to say, “I can’t do it anymore. I need help”. But when I was willing, my prayer was answered, and continues to be. The strongest parts of my program are prayer & meditation, fellowship, service, and “an attitude of gratitude”.

Scott F. Basinger, PhD

Scott joined Baylor College of Medicine in 1973 as a faculty member in the Departments of Ophthalmology and Neuroscience. For the past 48 years, he has served BCM in multiple roles; educator, medical researcher, program director, fund-raiser, student counselor and advisor, and Dean in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences for 20 years. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics (part time). Scott accepted the Founding Executive Director position at the Hope and Healing Center & Institute in the fall of 2010, opened the Center in January of 2012, and retired from the HHC at the end of 2014. Scott has served Houston non-profits in various roles for more than two decades; advisor, board member, and in development, raising over $17 million for their mission-based programs, including the Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. He is currently on leave from the Adult Clinical Staff of the Memorial Herman Prevention and Recovery Center.

Scott has served as the Chair of the Baylor College of Medicine Substance Abuse Assistance Council, the Healthcare Representative for the Texas Lawyers Disability Committee, and the past Chair of the Advisory Board of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston (now the Council on Recovery), where he was the Director of Education for the Center for Recovering Families for over a decade. The Council honored him in 2002 with the Jay Wagoner Service Award and the Mission Accomplished Award in 2003. In 2002, the Cancer League honored him as a “Pacesetter”. Scott has served on the Boards of Archway Academy, Cornerstone Recovery, and Passages, and on the Medical Advisory Board. Cornerstone honored him with the “Vision Award” in 2015. In 2015, the Mayor appointed him to the Houston Recovery Center Board. In 2016, Lifeway International selected him for the Lifetime of Service Award, and The Association of Recovery Schools honored him with the Spectrum Award. Scott is one of the associate producers of Generation Found, a documentary film highlighting a successful continuum of care for teen and adolescent recovery. He was the Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer Center Family retreats, which have been attended by over 1600 family members between 1999 and 2016.

Scott is a trained interventionist and provides addiction education and aftercare services for those who need help in our community. His research interests are focused on investigating substance use disorders in teens and adolescents. Scott has two children, two grandchildren, and is an avid sailor and traveler.

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