Creve Couer Missouri – December 2021 – As someone who has been in recovery himself for a long time, Rick Flanagan, the Lead Counselor for INSynergy, brings passion and a personal perspective to his work.
“I had a 30-year alcohol addiction problem,” Flanagan said. “I just decided it was time to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”
Flanagan’s problems with alcohol and drugs began at a very early age.
“I come from a very dysfunctional family. I started drinking at around ten,” Flanagan said. “I used marijuana at 11, and I feel that is what started the downward journey into addiction.”
As an adult, Rick’s dependence on alcohol and marijuana cost him his marriage and eventually his freedom.
“I was abusive verbally, physically, and emotionally,” Flanagan said. “I just caused a lot of strife for my loved ones.”
Flanagan would end up going to prison three times on charges of assault and drug possession. All told, Flanagan spent a total of seven and a half years behind bars.
Eventually, Flanagan got the help he needed to get sober. He then went to school to learn how to help others fighting alcohol and drug dependence.
“I’d call it a gradual spiritual awakening,” Flanagan said.
For more than a decade, Flanagan has been paying it forward as a counselor helping patients of INSynergy.
“My job is to make them feel comfortable so they are able to be honest,” Flanagan said. “Honesty is so big in recovery.”
Flanagan’s patients trust him more when he shares his own story.
“It seems that when I tell my story that raises their level of comfort,” Flanagan said. “And we are able to have more healthy counseling sessions.”
Flanagan’s ability to authentically connect with patients is a strength he brings to the medical teams effort to help patients recover from their alcohol or drug dependence.
“I think that is one of the skills that Rick has that many of us struggle with, how do you get information from the people you are treating,” Doctor Arturo Taca Jr., the Medical Director of INSynergy said. “And he has no problem with that and that’s a skill that he has always had. I don’t think he learned it, I just think that is who he is.”
Flanagan cares about each patient he treats.
“It just feels like a connection with a population of people who I feel need love and support,” Flanagan said. “And I feel comfortable around them. They are my people.”
Flanagan’s colleagues say his empathy for patients is heartfelt and makes him good at what he does.
“I have never met a person who cares about other people stronger and more fiercely than Rick,” Ashley Halker, Director of Operations for INSynergy said. “He gets individuals that are struggling with addiction and he has the heart and patience to help them through it when he knows they are struggling.”
“Where you have been is always a part of you,” Flanagan said. “But it is about improving.”
“I believe every one of us is a miracle,” Flanagan said. “I believe in all of them.”
Flanagan said he is emotionally invested in each patient and gets as much benefit from helping them that they do.
“They might not do it but there have been some tough cases where I have seen change that is very uplifting to me,” Flanagan said. “I feel I get just as much out of it as they do, if not more.”