A person's recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is grounded as much in the family as with physicians and therapists, 12-step groups and sponsors.
The specialists at the nonprofit Livengrin assist families of first responders with the many difficulties of coping with a loved one in treatment.
We know from experience and research that the family needs to recover from the addiction along with the patient. They're usually carrying frustration, guilt, anger, disappointment, fear… they've experienced a lot.
Families develop their own thinking and behavior to deal with that of the addicted person. They might have dealt with the patient's behavior for years. They cope, rationalize, avoid confrontation (or perhaps instigate it), give up trying to help, threaten penalties, or go through many other responses over time. All quite natural, but none of this really helps the situation or the feelings.
Often, family members and loved ones feel powerless to stop the continued downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse. In some cases, they have become "enablers" by hoping that the problem will go away or cure itself.
As one counselor puts it, "Begging, pleading, bargaining and threats are all useless in the family's attempt to prevent their loved one from destroying himself or herself. They have no understanding how a person who is supposed to love them can hurt them so much. As a result, they often feel responsible for their loved one's substance abuse."
When the patient does return home from treatment (feeling better and more confident about their ability to apply new life-skills), how can anyone expect the family to simply feel equally well? The fear and anxieties, the patterns of thinking, the distrust and sadness that had built up over those months and years can remain.
Through revealing questionaires, private family meetings and Livengrin's "Day of Enlightenment" program, loved ones learn how to take care of themselves, how to stop their own enabling behaviors, and how to help the patient adapt to a life without drugs or alcohol.
With these and other Livengrin support programs, family members learn that they are not at fault, and that it's important to acquire the tools and understanding needed to protect themselves from possible future emotional hurts. A family can heal and grow again.
Contact the Family Program via email: firstname.lastname@example.org