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Monday, June 11, 2012

Family Programs and Addiction Recovery

A person's family history plays a big role in one's own addiction and recovery. We often see it discussed in the award winning A & E series INTERVENTION™. Usually the interventionist will explain how family history is an integral part of approaching the addict to acknowledge a problem and seek treatment, simply because everyone in the family is impacted by an individual's addiction.

But here's the reality of what a family initially feels when their loved finally gets into a treatment program. RELIEF! Their loved one is safe. Safe from the streets, sleeping in a safe place and getting the care (medical and psychological) they need. But often the family (parents, siblings, spouses, children, extended family) don't realize how important it is for them to also participate in a program of recovery. The truth is family members really don't know what they don't know. They only know what they have seen and what they fear. For example, they know they have witnessed their loved one's life diminish in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally, legally, financially and spiritually. They fear the next phone call, the next knock on the door, the next mail delivery...because it can only be bad news. What they often fail to understand is the full impact of addiction on them as individuals. They don't know how to start to get better, how to take care of themselves. They almost fear knowledge, because as human beings we tend to think "what we don't know won't hurt us."

We know, because we hear it said, addiction is a disease. But unlike most diseases, when a loved one is diagnosed as suffering from the disease of addiction, family members don't reach out to friends and family. They don't call their close neighbors to seek advice or consolation. Instead the family retreats, embarrassed and frightened about what the next step will be. Think about this: let's say your teenager or young adult child is diagnosed with cancer or diabetes. Naturally, almost instinctively, you call your family and friends to seek comfort, support and advice; however, if the diagnosis is addiction your natural reaction is to pull back from those with whom you would normally want to surround yourself.

Fortunately, most treatment professionals and recovery centers offer a family program as a strategic part of their treatment programs. Family programs allow the addict's loved ones to focus not just on the addict's recovery, but what they need to learn about themselves and how they need to start their own recovery. Usually, many families participate together. Yes, you meet other families and you share the start of your recovery with your peers

The goals of our Family Program are:

  • Learn about addiction as a disease concept
  • Identify family roles in addiction
  • Recognize and prevent enabling addictive behaviors
  • Move past denial, shame, guilt and fear
  • Define and conceptualize co-dependence
  • Practice healthy methods of conflict resolution
  • Establish healthy boundary systems
  • Create a relapse prevention plan
  • Practice Al-Anon recovery principles
  • Promote ongoing recovery and healing
When family members participate in a family program they begin their own recovery. They begin to let go of their worst fears and guilt. They begin to understand that groups like Al-Anon will be a source of support and knowledge where they can feel safe sharing their story. Recovery is a process not an event.
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