Friday, May 18, 2007

Role of the Family

Family and friends can play an important role in motivating individuals with drug and alcohol problems to get into treatment and stay in treatment. In order to do this the family members must educate themselves about the nature of addiction, they need to learn what they have control over and what they do not and be willing to give up control of the outcome for the addicted person.

The addicted person needs information about their condition. If family members aren't clear about the nature of addiction it will be hard to give clear information to their loved one. The addicted person will spend a lot of energy rejecting this information so if the family member understands that this is normal it will reduce their anxiety and help them to continue to give information to their loved one anyway. When you give information to an addicted person it must be simple and straight, such as, I love you, you need help, here is a list of treatment programs. Addicted people do not need judgments, threats or attempts at manipulating them into treatment.

One of the more difficult skills that family members and friends need to learn is how to allow the addicted person they love to experience the consequences of their addiction without trying to save them. Addicted people need pain. Without pain they will not be motivated to seek help. One important note, it is not the job of the family to create pain for the addict in hope that this will make them go into treatment. This is very important. I have talked to many parents that kicked their adult child out of the house thinking this will make them go to treatment, and the addicted person does not go. There are no simple solutions here. If you choose to kick someone out of the house it should only be done to make your life better, to protect your environment. If this results in the addicted person going to treatment great, if it does not, that's OK also because that wasn't the goal. This would be a natural consequence for the addicted person as a result of their drug use and they will have to deal with it as opposed to a manipulative consequence created by the parents to create pain.

In order to play the strongest role in this with an addicted person in your family you must get education, get support, pass on the information to the addict whether they like it or not, learn to give up trying to control the outcome for the addicted person, allow the addicted person to experience the natural consequences of their addiction, and when not sure what to do seek out the support you have been developing for advice and more support.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Take Back Your Home

First it is important to understand where I'm coming from. What I talk about is based on my belief that addiction is a disease process that neither the family member nor the addicted person have any control over. People that have come to my class over the last 12 years have had a range of beliefs about this and that is fine. The important point is that they are willing to make changes to improve their own lives that have been disrupted by the disease process of addiction.

If you can't control the disease what can you control? There are two areas of our lives we neglect and can control: 1. Our response to the addiction. Not just a reaction based on fear and anxiety but a plan of action. 2. Our environment, where we live and what we allow in our lives.

Family members need support to take back their home and take back their lives. One opportunity for this is with AlaNon/ Alateen. For more information on AlaNon/Alateen follow the link on this blog. Also read the book "Addict in the Family" published by
Hazelden. Addiction pulls families apart. Within the family there may be different responses. Try to find as many areas of agreement as possible, even if it is only that our loved one is an addict. Treat each other with respect, everyone is responding to a very stressful situation.

This is a process of recovery for the family. Taking back your home is for you not the addicted person. Don't do this if your real goal is to manipulate your loved one into treatment. Also you should not do anything you are not willing to follow through on and believe is the right thing to do.

Family members start this process in a variety of ways. All families need education and support to be clear on what they believe about addiction. Also family members need to agree on what behavior change they will make and are willing to follow through on, whether it is stopping doing their son's laundry to kicking their loved one out or finding the ability to have their loved one arrested if they steal from them or break into the house. The message you are giving the addicted person is that, we love you, your behavior unacceptable, and I can't control your addiction (as much as I would like to) but I am taking control of my life.

Don't do anything you aren't willing to follow through on. This isn't a trick to cause them pain so they will go to treatment. This isn't even about the addict, it is about the family making healthy choices for themselves. Whether you stop the money, change the locks, press charges because of stealing or breaking in you must be consistent.

What do we say to the addict? This isn't a debate or a discussion. Make simple, clear statements, such as; We love you, You need treatment, Here is a list of treatment programs in the area, We will no longer support your addiction, We will support your recovery.

Remember the three C's. for families: You didn't Cause it, You can't Control it, You can't Cure it.