Herling’s Story of Hope

Like a lot of people, Herling Hurtado wasn’t feeling well, and ignored it. He continued to drink heavily to self-medicate, unaware of what was happening to him physically. A friend eventually convinced him that he needed to go to the hospital. Turned out he had cirrhosis of the liver and was also bleeding internally. He was hospitalized for several weeks.

Herling arrived at Samaritan Inns right after leaving the hospital. It was March 2020, just before the pandemic shut down the Nation’s Capital, and much of the rest of the world.

We asked him to tell us his story.

“I hadn’t come to terms with the fact that I needed to go to rehab,” Herling said. People told him that he needed to give up alcohol, and he had tried to do it by himself several times, but not knowing how, was always unsuccessful. “I eventually decided to go to rehab just to get people off of my back,” he conceded.

“When I first came to Samaritan Inns, I had a lot of questions, and I was worried about all the details I needed to know and do. But I decided to just follow the staff’s instructions, whatever they may be. It seemed crazy at first waking up at 4:00 a.m. and going to sleep at 7:00 p.m., but after being there for a while it started to feel normal. After the 28-day program, the next step for me was to apply to the Transitional Treatment Program.”

Samaritan Inns’ has a unique three-phase Treatment and Recovery Continuum. Every successive step is tailored to meet the needs of the individual while promoting greater independence and responsibility:

  • A 28-Day Adult Treatment Program with case management to assist in addressing cooccurring mental health issues; intensive group and individual therapy; and counseling in nutrition, exercise, health, and basic wellness.
  • A 6-month Transitional Treatment Program which provides the crucial next step to individuals completing the 28-day program. It features a home environment and teaches life skills to enable transition into employment and independence.
  • A Long-Term Recovery Program designed for men and women who have obtained 6 months of sobriety and employment. It provides the opportunity to live independently in single-room occupancy suites, with built-in support structures such as bi-monthly accountability meetings and counseling sessions.

Herling continued: “I’m always uncomfortable in group settings because it makes me feel socially awkward. That’s why I started drinking to begin with. I come from a Latin culture where dancing is huge and I don’t like dancing,” he said, laughing! “So I would just spend time drinking at the bar. I would go to parties, but instead of dancing I would drink. It made things worse. Later, I started working in the restaurant industry, which also involved buying alcohol.”

But when Herling was at Fairmont Inn—the site of the Men’s Transitional Treatment Program — he said he felt comfortable with the group of men there. He wasn’t anxious or nervous. “I used to get excited to the point where I would shake. There was a time when I did get anxious when speaking with one of the staff, but after he took the time to sit down with me and take me under his wing, I felt much more at peace.”

Leonard Perry, one of the counselors at the Fairmont Inn, said “Herling was determined, and didn’t feed on the negativity around him. He stayed focused on what he needed to do to recover.”

Now, Herling works at GrubHub, and lives at Lazarus House, one of our Long-Term Recovery Program properties.

“My experiences at Fairmont helped me to realize that I haven’t arrived yet. . . that I am to take things one step at a time. Samaritan Inns has my back; they just ask that I do my best to get better and utilize the resources I’m given. I’ve learned how to leave some things alone and focus on today. These lessons seem basic when you think about them. But if you don’t know, you don’t know.

“There is a reason for everything. I’m thankful and I’m grateful for everything that’s happened. Everyone has failures, but I think it’s important to not give up and to push through them.

“I learned to forgive myself too. I don’t want to live in the past and think about the what-ifs.”

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