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Friday, August 4, 2017

Families pay a key role in the treatment of addiction

Sociologist, Robert Ackerman, spreads the message that families play a key role in the treatment of addiction. Here is part of his message:

"Relatives need to understand the disease of addiction, learn skills for living with addiction, learn how to discourage excessive alcohol or drug use, and understand how to communicate with an abuser in a positive manner.Family counseling sessions should help addicted people and their relatives to lay out long-term plans and goals for recovery. Families also should learn that the recovery techniques don’t work the same way for everyone, Ackerman said. Some may take longer than others to respond, some will respond in different ways, and not all will reach the same level of recovery — a factor called recovery lag."

My experience has been that families struggle with four primary emotions when a family member is addicted: anger, fear, confusion, and love.

The confusion comes from a lack of understanding about what they are dealing with and the conflicted messages that our society sends about addiction. Even professionals and the health care system is conflicted.

The anger comes from being stolen from, injured, lied to, and mistreated and, of course, the underlying fears of being hurt again or our loved being harmed or harming someone else.

Because of these emotions of anger, fear, confusion, and love there is a tendency to enable, punish, or cut off. These managements strategies usually not only don't help, but make the situation worse in the long run. And so what does help?

What helps is detach with love, that is creating appropriate boundaries of what you can do and can't do to help. Providing appropriate help, but not rescuing. Helping means supporting the person's well being and ability to help him or herself by providing information, coaching for better life skill management, and providing opportunities for using that information and skills. Rescuing means bailing people out, covering things up, minimizing and denying so that the using person doesn't have to experience the consequences of their own use.

Getting help from a professional coach that can guide the family's development, implementation, and evaluation of their management strategy often is the best way to engage with the addicted family member in a consistently helpful way. While every person struggling with addiction and every family is different there are some basic principles that can be helpful for all families. These principles will be described in future articles.

For more about the article about Robert Ackerman click here.

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