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Rehab Focus Creates Redemption for Airline Pilots

CBS News reports that since its inception in the 1970s, the Human Intervention Motivation Study has given second chances to thousands of men and women in danger of losing their families, careers, and even their lives.

Eighty percent of HIMS participants never relapse at all, and of the ones who do, most only relapse once. Its sparkling record is indicative of HIMS' important role in maintaining the public's trust in its class of clientele, who are, first and foremost, human beings. But they're also airline pilots.

Pilots deal with a variety of emotional and psychological struggles that contribute to addiction, and the high-stakes nature of their work requires strict enforcement. However, the demand for their specialized ability created a need for airline officials and government regulators to alter their approach to substance abuse toward an emphasis on rehabilitation and recovery.

According to Dr. Lynn Hankes, who ran an FAA-approved rehab facility in South Miami, the secret to HIMS' success is twofold. Successful rehab requires a structured system in place, which often consists of a month in a rehab facility, and a minimum of three years of drug-related monitoring and testing.

But it also requires external motivation. "If you threaten a pilot with taking away his wings, it's like threatening a doctor with taking away his stethoscope. That's a lot of leverage. If they want to get back to the cockpit or the operating room, they gotta jump through the hoops."

This approach has not only increased safety for air travelers, but it's been a lifeline for pilots like Lyle Prouse, who was able to retire honorably after a previous arrest, a stint in prison, and entry into the HIMS program.

"I've gotten to live out more miracles than anybody I know," said Prouse. "I suppose without sounding preachy or evangelistic, the only thing I can attribute it to is God's grace."

Potential preaching angles: Second chances are always possible, leaders should aim to restore those caught in sin, those with greater responsibility need to be held with greater accountability.

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