Schnellenberger son, a former addict, aims to help others


Long before the U.S. was gripped in its current opioid epidemic, Tim Schnellenberger had battled — and recovered from — his own substance addiction.

Now 50 and recently married, Schnellenberger — one of legendary football coach Howard Schnellenberger’s three sons — attained sobriety in 2000 and has been on a mission ever since to help others get sober. Tim’s brother, Stephen (who died in 2008 of Hodgkin lymphoma), also battled substance addiction.

“After I got sober and watched my brother fall into addiction again and again, it was awful,” says Tim. “He was living with my parents for a few years and then he would go into and out of treatment facilities. The experience of watching what my parents went through drove me to help other addicts and their families.”

In 2002, Tim founded the male-only Healing Properties Halfway House and Sober Living (healingproperties.org). The Delray Beach facility started with five beds and now boasts 48 — as well as a sterling reputation.

In a Politico report last year on Palm Beach County’s heroin crisis and dubious sober home industry, Healing Properties was cited as being a “reputable … well-run sober home” and Marc Woods, a Delray Beach code enforcement officer, said that Tim was “one of the good guys” in an industry rife with fraud and shady proprietors.

In 2015, Tim added a treatment-counseling component called Recovery Boot Camp to Healing Properties’ program. Earlier this month, he, along with his parents Howard and Beverlee, launched the Schnellenberger Family Foundation, whose mission is to provide financial support to the families of addicts.

‘This is a family disease’

The Schnellenbergers know all too well how much everyone is impacted by an addict’s disease.

“This is a family disease. Everyone is affected emotionally and financially. My parents had to pay a fortune — literally, millions — because of my addiction and Stephen’s addiction,” says Tim.

“We didn’t realize we were doing it, but we enabled Stephen and Tim when they were younger,” recalls Beverlee. “Through our foundation, we hope to help not only the addict get better, but also the family. Relatives may not understand how their enabling contributes to their own suffering — and prevents the addict from truly recovering.”

“We have been blessed by good health, strength and the ability to coach football,” says Howard, of a career that spanned more than 50 years and included Super Bowl victories with the Miami Dolphins, a national championship at the University of Miami and the creation of the Florida Atlantic University football program. “The foundation is a great place to invest and put our name behind a cause we believe in.”

Tim says as challenging as his own recovery was, “I was shocked and felt so powerless when my brother struggled with addiction. We based the Recovery Boot Camp weekend family program on what my parents learned when they attended a similar program many years ago.”

Loved ones need to learn their roles

Family members need to learn their role in a loved one’s recovery. That means understanding how and when to appropriately participate — and when to step back.

“As much as parents, spouses, siblings and children want to help, they also sometimes need to let go,” Tim explains.

The key, he notes, is to be there to reinforce what the addict is learning in recovery — but not try to force the addict to behave in a certain way.

With the establishment of the Schnellenberger Family Foundation — which will raise money through online donations, local and national benefactors, fundraising special events and some proceeds from Howard’s forthcoming book — the Schnellenbergers want all Healing Properties/Recovery Boot Camp families to have the financial means to survive while learning what it means for a loved one to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

Far too often, Tim says, men who need to be inpatients at a residential facility balk at doing so because of their financial obligations at home. Tim wants the men who stay at Healing Properties to know that if being unable to work during their stay will put their spouses and kids in a dire financial spot, at least their basic economic needs (groceries, electric bill, rent, etc.) will still be met.

“Defraying some of these costs for our residents who need it will enable them to fully focus on their recovery during their in patient stay.”

In the 16 years since opening Healing Properties, Tim and his staff — all of whom are recovering addicts — have helped guide men toward a path of recovery and sobriety.

But the Schnellenbergers know, their work is far from done.

“Beverlee and I are just so proud of Tim,” says Howard. “He’s a self-made man and now just wants to help others.”



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