Tag Archives: drug rehabilitation

The Twelve Steps and Early Recovery

Twelve step recovery can be very challenging for young people because so much of it is based on concepts that are usually associated with an adult perspective. A realization of powerlessness, any admission of wrong doing, reliance on a Higher Power, and a willingness to face people who have been hurt is difficult. This is particularly a challenge for adolescents and young adults. Adults in recovery have a difficult time taking responsibility for their actions, much less a young person. In the mind of a young drug and/or alcohol abuser there is nothing wrong with what he/she is doing. In his or her mind if everyone would just back off, there wouldn’t be a problem. This has always been a challenge for young people who need help but is especially difficult today.


Identity Addiction

 

Drug and alcohol treatment is not immune to the current climate of identity separation. If you look around, there are 12-Step meetings available to almost every imaginable classification of people. Many of these group distinctions are unnecessary and can water down the message of recovery. It is generally dangerous for a person with drug and alcohol problems to be “terminally unique.” However, young people are at a different stage of development. Not only are they working through a dangerous drug and alcohol problem they are experiencing normal brain development along with hormonal changes. This can be a lot to deal with. These factors don’t excuse poor behavior but must be understood when treating young people. An 18 year old with an opiate or marijuana addiction is not going to experience early recovery the same way a 45 year old alcoholic does. (Yes, I am aware that I wrote marijuana addiction)

Sobriety: The Great Equalizer

Any recovering addict or alcoholic learns the importance of “living life of life’s terms.” The sober man or woman recognizes the value in being a productive member of society. The same is true for a young person. Although some of the definitions may differ, a person in recovery needs to mend broken relationships, become responsible, and learn to adapt to changing circumstances. These characteristics are essential to long term recovery. The twelve steps provide a simple framework to achieve these goals. Change may not happen immediately but with patience and perseverance these turnarounds can be permanent.

Young People And Substance Abuse Treatment

It has become common for young people with substance abuse problems to go through multiple treatment programs. Sometimes this is due to a parent not knowing what else to do. In other cases it is because another round in treatment may be necessary to save a young person‘s life. A young person’s motivation to enter drug rehabilitation is usually different than an adult’s. In most instances a young person enters rehab because of outside influences; parents, school, or the law. Adults often enter treatment because of similar factors but can usually see more clearly the responsibility they have for the problem’s existence. What adults and young people have in common is that without significant lifestyle and attitudinal change, long term recovery will not take hold.

Addiction Treatment and Approaches

A philosophy that is gaining momentum in treatment is MAT. MAT stands for medication assisted treatment. This approach is in response to the increasing rates of opiate addiction and is built on the premise that addiction is a brain disease. In other words, the addict is a victim of brain dysfunction. His or her behavior is as the result of something being “organically” wrong. Yet again, we are at the place of treating drug issues with more drugs. Although it seems easier to accept that someone is suffering from a brain disease, the fact remains that if an individual is to achieve long term recovery he or she must address all areas of life. Harm reduction methods, MAT, or any other alternative substance abuse treatment may provide temporary relief and may open the door to long term recovery but the addict must change his or her behavior.

Recovery Doesn’t Always Feel Good

Today it is popular to avoid feelings of discomfort. Who likes to feel any kind of pain? Unfortunately this has led to an increased desire to make sure addicts “feel ok” rather than work through issues. Referring to an addict as an addict is not shaming or demeaning. It gives an individual the opportunity to acknowledge and address the problem. Whether there is an issue in the brain or not the door needs to be open to the recovering substance abuser to own his or her behavior. This can be uncomfortable but with the appropriate level of support the person in recovery will not feel lost or alone. Substance abuse affects a person physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For recovery to be effective all areas need to be addressed.

Substance Abuse Recovery And The Challenges For Families

August has arrived which means school has either started or is right around the corner. For familieswho are new in recovery, this can be very challenging. Some parents desperately want life to be “normal” and the newly sober young person is terrified by the idea of facing old friends and other social situations.These can be daunting circumstances for anyone to handle, much less someone trying to develop a whole new set of coping mechanisms. There is tremendous pressure on everyone. This is a good opportunity to take a longer view. Eventually the family will settle into this new way of life and everyone will be more secure. Facing a drug or alcohol abuse issue opens the door to having a healthier perspective and having a different set of priorities.

Recovery Is A Marathon

Long term recovery is contingent on an addict or alcoholic learning to live on life’s terms. This means reintegrating into “normal” life responsibilities. School, work, and healthy relationships are important for addicts and alcoholics in recovery. However, in order to have success the drug abuser must put “first things first.” This means that recovery has to be the top priority. Parents must remember that for an addict or alcoholic, drugs and alcohol are all encompassing. Substance abuse touches all areas of life. Gaining the maturity to make better life decisions takes time. Over the long haul, relationships within the family need to heal. School, work, and other important activities will fall into proper place in due time.

Some Simple Suggestions

Whether new to recovery or not, it is good to be reminded of some basic tools. Some examples include:

  • Manage expectations. Everyone has expectations but it is vital to expect what a person is actually capable of doing
  • Seek Outside Help. It is never a bad idea to seek advice from someone who isn’t involved in the family’s situation
  • Stay On The Same Page A recovering addict needs stability. If there are conflicting messages this can lead to unnecessary insecurity

There are many other useful tools available. Finding the right support is a key element in recovery. Contact other parents or a counselor for suggestions.

Drug Education vs. Drug Treatment

A common misconception is that if addicts were more aware of what they were ingesting they would be more likely to stop using. The reasoning is that this form of education would scare the drug abuser into sobriety. The problem is that addicts are either aware of what they are putting into their body and don’t care or they simply don’t care. In fact, many addicts are very well informed as to what they are using. Some have a vast pharmaceutical knowledge. In order to achieve sobriety an addict needs to have the proper motivation. No amount of education can provide this.

 

First Things First

Most addicts enter treatment because of external factors. The most common reasons are:

  • legal consequences
  • loss of employment
  • being caught at school
  • family intervention

More often than not an addict will say anything to get out of trouble. If this includes completing a treatment program, so be it. An addict’s willingness to change cannot be based on entrance into a program. The true test comes after a period of sobriety once the initial crisis has abated.

Recovery Is a Process

Every addict is different and some take longer to develop strong recovery tools than others. It generally takes an addict or alcoholic about 18 months to stabilize. This doesn’t mean that someone in recovery can’t reintegrate into “normal” life prior to this time. This simply illustrates there will be some challenges along the way that are directly related to learning to live sober. A person in early recovery (up to 36 months sober) needs a lot of support from family, friends, and an understanding peer group. If sobriety isn’t the addict’s top priority he or she will likely sabotage any success experienced in the beginning stages of his or her new life. Coping with life’s challenges without a chemical crutch is very challenging for any addict or alcoholic. With a strong system of support someone with addiction issues is more likely to maintain long term recovery.

Early Addiction Recovery

Early addiction recovery can be very tricky. Not only is there a presenting problem or crisis related to drugs and alcohol, there are the years of emotions that have been avoided, the fractured family relationships, and feelings of failure. Most addicts and alcoholics have squandered talents, opportunities, and potential. This can be scary and frustrating to loved ones who feel torn between fear and resentment. On one hand, a parent  may want to lock a young drug abuser away until he or she “grows up” enough to understand the ramifications of his or her actions. On the other hand, a parent may feel that any lengths that need to be gone to in order to keep the child alive are worth it. These emotions can be crippling.

What Actually Happens In Early Recovery?

A simple way to understand the beginning stages of sobriety is to look at what parts of a person are truly affected by alcoholism and addiction. The short answer is: all aspects of a person are damaged. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. All of these areas have to be addressed patiently. Abstinence alone does not fix the problem, this is merely physical. “Finding God” is very difficult for someone who is under foreign management. Going to therapy and “getting to the root of it” does not motivate someone abusing drugs and alcohol to change. He or she is usually aware of many of the issues at hand. It generally takes 2-3 weeks for a recovering addict to begin “feeling.” Early abstinence; once the angst of not using passes, leads the newly sober person to feel better. This good feeling doesn’t last very long. Once the addict begins to experience emotions he or she tends to become filled with anxiety, frustration, and fear.

The Solution Is Spiritual

Twelve step recovery is predicated on an understanding of a Higher Power. Whether this begins as the love of an empathetic group of people, a traditional religious concept of God, or some other form of spirituality it is critical for an addict to begin this process. A person new in recovery needs hope. He or she needs genuine love and concern. He or she relies on the awareness that addiction and alcoholism can be overcome. This spiritual contact provides the motivation to walk through the challenge of facing difficult problems. Once a spiritual foundation is established much of the emotional work can begin. This is when introspection, therapy, and development of more effective coping mechanisms takes place.

How Long Does It Take?

Good recovery never ends. For an alcoholic, addict, or substance abuser the journey is ongoing. This is not depressing. This is an awareness that as long as someone is willing to take an honest look at his or her life, opportunities for growth will always arise. This experience is liberating and filled with joy. The knowledge and life skills developed in sobriety provide a better understanding of success, happiness, and healthy relationships. Rather than put a time frame on “when will it get better”, understand that as soon as someone commits his or her self to recovery, life begins to get better. Everyone involved needs patience and a compassionate perspective. The rewards that come from real sobriety are incalculable.

 

In Addiction Recovery Letting Go Doesn’t Mean Stop Caring

Anyone who has spent any time in 12 step addiction recovery meetings has at least heard  a version of the term: “let go.” The actual meaning of this term can depend on either the speaker or the listener. To some, the act of letting go involves withholding affection. To others, letting go means looking the other way. Neither of these extremes has a positive effect. True letting go involves a process of clarifying priorities, learning how to respond, and expressing love positively.

 

The Myth Of Tough Love

Love is not always pleasant. Sometimes the act of love means taking actions the other person doesn’t like. Bishop Robert Barron says love is “truly wanting what is best for another person and then concretely doing something about it.” When a parent or loved one of an active addict or alcoholic finally says without equivocation: “We cannot continue to live this way”and offers the user a choice between getting help or leaving home they have demonstrated love and begun the process of letting go. A loving act like this is reinforced when a clear plan is laid out and followed through with. Sometimes when people try to act on tough love they do so from a place of anger and resentment. When “tough love” comes from an emotionally charged perspective, the person who needs help may only feel the animosity.

In Addiction Recovery Letting Go Doesn't Mean Stop Caring

Feelings vs. Reality

The Carl Buehner quote: “They may forget what you said-but they will never forget how you made them feel” is helpful to remember when communicating with an addict. The ultimate goal is to help facilitate recovery. Addiction is a disease. Although a drug abuser can, and should, learn from consequences, he or she needs to know that help is available. Sometimes the person in need of help has a difficult time asking for it. Letting go without love can leave a person feeling lost and abandoned. Remember when letting go to do so with a spirit of love and compassion.

How To Cope With Emotional Turmoil With An Addict Or Alcoholic

When there is an addict or alcoholic in the home all sense of peace is lost. Drugs, alcohol, and the emotional turmoil that comes with substance abuse take center stage. Family members either act as if nothing is happening or fly into irrational rages while desperately searching for something to control. By the time the drug abuser is discovered, in some ways it is already too late. Without intervention the problem will probably get worse. It is rare that an addict or alcoholic wakes up one day and suddenly decides to mend his ways. He may make promises along these lines but that is usually to avoid potential consequences, not because of a sudden change in heart. Loved ones are left confused and scared, having little awareness of where to turn. Parents of addicts need tools after their son or daughter enters recovery. Abstinence does not solve all the problems created by drug abuse. With the right help parents are able to become a part of the solution while healing emotionally.

How To Cope With Emotional Turmoil With An Addict Or Alcoholic

Simplify

By the time a young person enters treatment his or her parents have tried everything they can think of to stop the problem. It is not unusual for a family to start the recovery process armed with behavioral contracts so complicated that the most educated lawyer would have a difficult time interpreting its details. The failed attempts of behavioral control accomplish nothing more than contempt and alienation. It makes the parent crazy and has zero effect on a young drug abuser. Parents can make their lives much more manageable by taking the time to re-evaluate whatever rules are in place and let go of those that do not support recovery for the family. In Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, Bob Meehan illustrates this idea with the analogy of Six Shots In Your Gun.

Triage Ain’t Forever

A family affected by drug abuse is lost, scared, and desperate. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed. This takes time. Early on, sobriety is priority number one. Healing from the emotional pain and resentment comes next. At some point a “life direction” takes center stage. There has to be a process; no family is healed in 30, 45, 60, or 90 days. Everyone involved needs patience and understanding. Those who are willing to step back and take a longer view are usually rewarded with lasting recovery. People who struggle to let go of the idea that everything must be fixed and back on track within a set time frame will probably stay stuck. There has to be a plan of action. However, if the plan doesn’t involve poise and flexibility it will probably fail. Remember, it took time for the problem to worsen and it will take even more time for it to be repaired.

In Order To Stay Sober Find A Higher Power

In order to stay sober, an addict must identify the ways drugs and alcohol make his or her life
unmanageable. Without this admission, progression into the following steps is impossible.The acceptance that drugs and alcohol either created or magnified problems provides the proper foundation for moving forward in the program.   For parents there is a similar need to determine how the pattern of addiction has created unmanageability in their lives. An addict creates much destruction in his wake and family members are inevitably affected. With the identification of these issues comes the opportunity to truly change. The beauty of twelve step recovery is that it provides people with coping tools to let go of negative patterns and replace them with more effective ways to cope. The primary theme that runs through the twelve steps is the recognition of the need for a relationship with a Higher Power.In Order To Stay Sober Find A Higher Power

There Is A God and It Ain’t Me!

Most people with drug and alcohol issues suffer from insecurity and low self-worth. This negative self perception is often compensated for by an overblown ego. It can be difficult for an addict or alcoholic to admit there may be any kind of power greater than him or herself, much less a benevolent being who genuinely cares for his or her condition. When this person has either moved away from any religious or spiritual background, or has no familiarity with spirituality at all, believing there is ” a Higher Power, expressed through love that can help restore us to sanity” is a bit of a stretch. Because this concept can be so complicated, finding a simple way to deflate the ego while finding hope is vital. This usually begins with some form of connection with the love and compassion of family and friends.

Life Beyond Addiction

Twelve step recovery is spiritually based. In early recovery everyone affected by addiction, both the abuser and loved ones, are encouraged to develop some sort of understanding of a Higher Power. This isn’t meant to answer deep theological or philosophical questions. The point is for those harmed by this terrible disease to realize they are not alone and that there is a solution. There are many in recovery who choose to deepen their spiritual life in many different ways. This should be encouraged. Some decide that what they identify with in early recovery is enough. Either way, if the person working a program is able to find a way to recover, they are a success. Don’t be afraid of the spiritual part of the program, in fact keep it very simple. Any good spiritual tradition is built on a foundation of Love. That is exactly what to look for because where there is love, there is hope.

Guidance For Parents In Substance Abuse Recovery

The second step in Enthusiastic Sobriety is: We found it necessary to stick with winners in order to grow.  For young people in recovery, the reason for this statement to be an actual step is obvious. Young addicts and alcoholics are very peer driven. If they aren’t around other sober young people they are likely to use again. What isn’t as clear is the degree to which adults are affected by the opinions of other grown-ups. Some of the worst advice parents get on how to deal with a drug abusing child comes from other well intentioned parents.Guidance For Parents In Substance Abuse Recovery

Good Intention Is Not Necessarily Good Advice

Most people are very willing to give advice to parents who are struggling with a troubled child. This is especially true if the kid in question has a drug or alcohol problem. It seems that everyone has either experienced substance abuse issues or at least knows someone who has. These experiences can be helpful but are often a hindrance. When a family is in the midst of a crisis centered on drug abuse what they need most is sound guidance. Where counsel comes from is important. Emotionally driven anecdotal tips do little good. For a plan of action a parent should consult an expert. The combination of professional counsel and empathetic support from parents who have been in a similar situation lay the foundation for a solid program of recovery.

You Are Not Alone

Having a child struggling with drug and alcohol problems does not make a parent a failure. Asking for help can be extremely difficult. The fear of judgment or the idea that somehow you have caused the problem leads to despair and isolation. There are people who understand exactly how it feels to be in this situation. Those who have found recovery have a responsibility to share what they have done to get better. Parents in need of help don’t know where to turn. There is an endless supply of irrational recommendations available. Most people in search of help have been misguided at some point. Not everyone can be expected to understand what it is like to deal with a substance abuse issue. “Sticking with winners” is a powerful tool parents can use to find help and to not feel so crazy. 

Drug And Alcohol Abuse And 12 Step Recovery For Parents

In 12 step recovery from drug and alcohol abuse the first step  involves a willingness to admit powerlessness  and unmanageability. The addict or alcoholic must understand that when abusing drugs and alcohol he loses control of the ability to make sound decisions and move in a positive direction in life. He must also accept that the major problems he is experiencing come as the result of getting high and drinking. No matter how much counseling or therapy an addict or alcoholic receives, he will not change until his drug or alcohol abuse is addressed and he is abstinent. Most parents or spouses of addicts and alcoholics understand this. What can be confusing is when someone says, “Now you need to work a program too!” Why would a parent or spouse need 12 step recovery?

Drug And Alcohol Abuse And 12 Step Recovery For Parents

What? I’m Not The One With The Problem

As soon as the chemical abusing a**hole gets sober the family becomes eternally blissful and all problems just melt away. Oh, if it could be that simple. Unfortunately, as anyone who loves an addict or alcoholic knows, this is literally never the case. Undoubtedly, sobriety provides the first opportunity to repair the family. But just as the addict’s recovery really starts post abstinence, the family’s issues come into the spotlight as well. When approached with the idea of working a 12 step recovery program most parents respond with a version of “I’m not the one with the problem.” Upon further investigation a loved one of an addict will inevitably come to the conclusion that  fear, anger, and guilt have created a fair amount of insanity. With this awareness comes the opportunity to create real healing for wounds caused by years of living in distress.

Family Recovery

Families enter 12 step recovery beaten, battered, and scarred. It is difficult to find hope that life will really ever get better. As soon as a parent or loved one of an addict is able to surrender to the idea that continuing along the path they have been on will only result in more pain, recovery begins. From this point the family member of the addict is able to change course and focus on her own happiness and peace of mind. Through the discovery of a Higher Power and an honest and thorough look at patterns that have caused disruption, transformation begins. The process isn’t complicated. It simply requires the courage to ask for help.