What Treatment Is…
Everyday families in crisis come to my door seeking help. Desperate to save the one they love, it is not uncommon for families to have driven hundreds of miles in hope of finding just one person that will truly understand them and their unique situation and be able to help them in some way survive. You see it in their eyes as they come in, holding their breath, hoping that their ‘person’ doesn’t throw a tantrum. Sometimes they pick their person’s bags up, throw them out on the curb and drive off. Other times family members are just as uncertain of what to do and what to expect.
What to do and what to expect are two areas that I am able to give you reference too.
What to do? Find an Al-Anon group. It is that easy. In fact, find three or four Al-Anon groups and attend each meeting three or four times while your ‘person’ is in treatment. One group may not be for everybody. Through Al-Anon family members are able to share their personal experiences and stories, and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest”. It is through this process and working with a counselor that specializes in substance abuse that family members are able to re-establish a relationship with the person that they love who has an addictive disorder. Until family members realize, acknowledge and accept the role that they play in the recursive pattern of interaction that comes with addiction the cycle will never be broken.
What to expect? Nothing. Expect absolutely nothing. Until you turn your problems over and accept that your are powerless over your family members addiction then you will constantly be hurt, disappointed and crushed by every expectation that you have decided is appropriate. This works for families, exactly as sobriety will elude the addict that is unable to accept powerlessness over addiction. Expectations are dangerous to the new person in recovery. If you want to know how your family member is doing, try family counseling or set up a time that he/she and their sponsor are able to meet with you together. Allow someone with some experience in this to guide the process; helping to ensure that further harm is not done.
A close friend and co-worker stated last week, “I remember when my baby went to treatment and I thought, Oh it’s all gonna get better now.” We shared a good laugh together over this, knowing what we know as treatment providers. Entering Detox and/or treatment is only the beginning of a lifelong journey, a commitment that supersedes all others. Some client’s make it, some clients make it for a while, and other clients do not make it at all.
The families of the client’s that make it have the toughest time of all. The don’t understand people new in recovery and all the needs that they have. Many have the idea that once someone is ‘clean and sober’ they should be all better. But truth is more easily understood by making an analogy that people new in recovery are like babies or toddlers. Everything in life must be relearned. Families argue, “But he used to be able to do this before he started using.” Ah, yes, if only the brain worked in that way. But it doesn’t. The brain remembers what it wants to remember and in that way it is resistant to learning how to do things in a way that it no longer wants too.
There is no cure, but there is hope. And in my fundamental core values I inherently know that every day sober is a good day. It is a day that no one will ever be able to take away from you. And with all of my love, I hope that today is that day for you and your family.
© 2015 Amanda Power