When a young person enters drug and alcohol treatment most parents have (what seem to be) thousands of questions.
- What about school?
- How long will this take?
- What about vacation?
- Do I have to stop drinking?
- Is it my fault?
- What if he/she relapses?
- What will happen after treatment?
This list is by no means exhaustive but it provides some examples of what people want to know. The first piece of advice for anyone is…….breathe. Once the problem is uncovered most loved ones want immediate resolution. Unfortunately this is an issue that has been a long time in the making and the recovery process isn’t quick.
Commit to the Solution
Drug and alcohol treatment usually requires a serious financial and time commitment. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind to not take temporary for permanent. It won’t always be like this. The longer an individual stays sober, the more capable he or she becomes of taking on more responsibilities. In early recovery it is vital that sobriety be the top priority. This means before school, work, and Sunday family dinner. It’s not that these parts of life aren’t important, it’s that none of them will matter if an addict doesn’t stay sober. The objective of treatment is to help an individual navigate life without the use of drugs and alcohol. At a program like Insight that means abstinence. Throughout the course of treatment the newly sober person gains coping tools that will be used in aftercare. Taking the time to to internalize these tools as much as possible is vital.
The Big Picture
One of the primary goals of treatment for a young addict or alcoholic is family recovery. Once a young person is sober he or she is better prepared to participate in the family. It is extremely difficult to overcome the guilt and shame created by an addict’s lifestyle. Eventually the recovering addict wants to repair damaged relationships. It is a challenge for loved ones to wait for this transformation to take place. However, those who are able to maintain patience are usually rewarded.
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?
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.
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.