Entering a Treatment Facility for Addiction Recovery

Your Loved One Entered a Treatment Facility for a Problem With Drugs or Alcohol: Now What?

It finally happened. You loved one who has been struggling with a drug or alcohol problem has entered a treatment facility. It could be a partner, a son or daughter, or a sibling. What happens now?

First of all, know that your loved one is where they need to be to get the care they need to recover from the addiction. The facility is staffed by medical and mental health professionals, and your loved one is with other people who are facing the same challenges that they are.

The first step on your loved one’s path to recovery is usually medically assisted detox to safely get their body used to being without the abused substance. Next, the client’s therapeutic program will be planned based on the client’s unique needs. The treatment plan will include individual therapy, group therapy, and therapy sessions with the client’s family. Many treatment facilities will also incorporate a range of alternative therapies as well. These could include chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, art and music therapy, and a range of other therapies. Many treatment facilities incorporate life skills training into their programs, particularly nutrition and wellness. In addition, most facilities offer follow-up care, recognizing that recovery is a lifelong journey for many people.

Family Support Is Vital to Success in Recovery

Because of the importance of family support, a great many recovery programs include programs for family members and other important people in the client’s life. Family involvement has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of relapse and can be very encouraging to the client. Many facilities offer educational sessions for family members designed to provide families with information about addiction and the ways in which the entire family has been affected by the client’s substance abuse, issues that are likely to occur in recovery, and ways in which the family can help the client.

Many facilities also have therapy sessions for family members to give them a safe space to process what they are going through. These tend to be group therapy sessions with other families who have a loved one in the treatment facility. In addition, there may be therapy sessions with the client and his family members. 

About Setting Boundaries

One issue that families of people going through recovery may have trouble with is setting boundaries, and therapy for family members can be helpful with that. Part of the difficulty may stem from confusion about what a boundary is. “All healthy relationships are based on accepting others’ rights,” writes Kathy Lang in a recent blog, “When we respect each other’s rights, we are recognizing our boundaries. Boundaries are guidelines that define what we feel are permissible ways for other people to treat us.” Clear boundaries, she adds, can improve relationships. A part of setting boundaries for families of people in recovery is thinking about changes that they may need to make in their own lives. For example, if your loved one is in treatment, it is vital that you remember that their addiction is not your fault and that you can’t fix them. You also should not be overprotective because, “When you’re protecting them from their own pain, you’re standing in the way of their reason to stop [the addictive behavior]” (heysigmund.com).

The Importance of Compassion in Countering Shame

When coping with a family member who is struggling with an addiction, while it is important to set boundaries, it is also important to treat your loved one with compassion.Treating your loved one with compassion doesn’t mean turning yourself into a doormat, but it doesn’t necessarily mean “tough love” either. When family members begin to interact with the substance abuser in “ways that promote positive behavioral change,” writes therapist and author Beverly Engel, “not only do they find ways to get their loved one into treatment, but the family members themselves feel better--specifically showing decreases in anger, anxiety, and medical problems.”

It is very important to not shame your loved one. He or she is already laboring under a heavy burden of shame. To treat the substance abuser with compassion means letting him or her know that we see them and recognize that they are suffering, that we hear them. We recognize their suffering and acknowledge the fact that they have a right to their feelings. We let the substance abuser know that we respect them as a fellow human and we offer comfort. “Compassion is especially effective when it comes to healing substance abuse problems, especially the issue of shame,” continues Engel. “Addiction and shame are closely connected….And, as it turns out, compassion is the only thing that can counteract the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.” Engel also says that family members of substance abusers need to show compassion to themselves. Family members need to recognize their own hurt and anger and find a way to release their anger and disappointment. 

There is another benefit to treating the substance abuser with compassion--it benefits the family member as well. “We are wired to respond to others in need,” writes Engel, who adds that when we show compassion to others, our heart rate goes down. “Kindness, support, encouragement, and compassion have a huge impact on our brains, bodies, and general sense of well-being….It’s good for us.”

Watching someone you love struggle with substance use disorder is very painful. You will feel many emotions that could include guilt, worry, fear, and anger. “Is it my fault? How do I help them? How do I keep them safe without enabling their addiction? Why is this happening to me? To my family? I didn’t sign up for this!” Because of these powerful emotions, many treatment facilities have therapy and educational sessions for family members. These sessions give family members a safe place to process their emotions and a chance to be with other families who are going through the same experience. It is very healing to know that you are not alone. In addition, substance use is viewed as a family disease, in that every member of the family is affected by the substance abusers actions and choices. For more information on treatment and family programs, call Enlightened Solutions at (833) 801-5483.


Feeling Left Behind: When Dysfunctional Family Roles Dictate Which Family Member Enables, Which One Develops a SUD, and Which One Becomes Lost

When one member of the family unit has a substance use disorder (SUD), everyone within the family is affected. The family becomes one of dysfunction as the SUD continues to develop and change the family dynamics. With a family history of SUD, this situation can feel like a losing battle for everyone, particularly when one family member enables the addictive behavior. Harder still is when the person suffering from the SUD is a child, the enabling person is the parent, and the other child is left to fend for themselves. 

Dysfunctional Family Roles Illuminate the Issues

Growing up in a dysfunctional family creates an environment of pain and trauma. Negative situations may occur due to the family member’s battle with their SUD, and subsequent harmful attitudes, words, and actions committed by them to other members within the family. Children raised in this environment grow up differently than others and may develop traits consistent with dysfunctional family roles. The oldest child may have to take on responsibilities at a very early age, parenting their siblings, and even taking care of their parent that is suffering from the SUD, while the youngest child may be more coddled and shielded from the traumas. However, the youngest child is also the most vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse due to their role within the family.

The oldest child may develop multiple dysfunctional family roles. For example, the oldest child may become “the lost child” or a loner role in a dysfunctional family who does not want to cause more trouble for the family and so therefore “escapes.” Escaping may mean getting lost in television shows or movies, reading, or engaging in any activity that allows them to be seen and not heard. The lost child seeks solace from the chaos and therefore may develop an elaborate fantasy life. Furthermore, solitude may lead to developing spirituality and creative pursuits, as long as low self-esteem does not diminish these efforts. It is common for the lost child to have few friends, difficulty with romantic relationships, and find comfort in material things or pets.  

This lost child is independent, and makes few demands on their parents, withdrawing into their world through their escapism. The lost child may isolate, be shy, and feel like an outsider within the family who is ignored by other family members. Furthermore, escaping the dysfunctional family and the subsequent drama may lead this child into their alcohol or drug use to momentarily escape the truth of their life. This role may develop at an extremely early age due to substance use by the parent with the SUD, and it may persist when a sibling follows the genetic path to addiction.  

The lost child may also develop traits of “the doer” in the dysfunctional family. By secluding oneself from the family, it is easy for the lost child to engage in activities outside of the home to escape. For example, the doer may become an outstanding performer, engaging in drama club, and acting in plays. Furthermore, they may become extremely responsible for themselves, leading to excellent grades in school, and even caring for younger siblings. The doer of the family is a self-appointed role, and this individual is psychologically over-developed and over-stressed at a young age when there is a parent with a SUD.

The youngest child in the dysfunctional family may find themselves in a deviant, or “problem child,” role. They may have problems in school, issues with authority, and distract the family from the parent’s SUD through this rebellion. Furthermore, this child may become “the scapegoat,” who is blamed for problems within the family, while they view the oldest child who makes no waves as the good one. This youngest child may develop psychological issues or learning problems due to their disruptive behaviors. Furthermore, they may learn to exploit their other family members to get what they want, becoming spoiled and entitled through their episodes of acting out. This child is at great risk for developing subsequent SUD to drugs or alcohol to deal with the guilt attached to these assumed roles. Furthermore, they may blame their sibling for their situation since the parent with the SUD was not responsible enough to care for them, and the sibling assumed that the caretaker role. 

The enabler of the family in this scenario is the parent without the SUD. Due to the other parent’s SUD and accompanying mental health disorders, this parent assumes responsibility for the household and the financial load, therefore leading the children to be more responsible for themselves and the daily functioning of the household. This enabling parent allows the SUD to persist and merely deals with the daily consequences as they occur. Furthermore, when the lost child and the problem child age, the lost child and doer accomplish educational and work-related goals, while the problem child persists in their deviant and irresponsible behaviors. The youngest child may then develop a SUD of their own, and the enabler parent continues to support them financially because that is all they have ever done. The SUD has merely jumped to a new family member. The lost child remains lost and alone, as the enabling parent continues to care for the family member with the SUD. 

If You are Experiencing a Dysfunctional Family and its Accompanying Roles, there is Hope for a Happier and Healthier Future

Feeling anxiety and inner rage is common when dealing with a dysfunctional family and generational SUDs. Life dramatically changes when having to deal with a family member battling a SUD, and problems arise when that behavior is enabled. Even if your family member, be it, parent or sibling, is not open to treatment right now, you have to believe they can recover, offer as much support as you can, and encourage them with love. These actions may help alleviate the pressures they feel in seeking help for their SUDs. If you or someone you know is battling a substance use disorder, call Enlightened Solutions today at 833-801-LIVE.

How to Talk About A Loved One’s Addiction With Them

I’m a drug addict and I need help” is a shocking statement to hear from a loved one. We may have known for years that our loved one suffered from substance abuse and addiction. Finally hearing them admit that their lives have become completely unmanageable due to their powerlessness over drugs and alcohol is often a relief. For many families, however, the news comes as a total surprise. There is a sort of loss. How do we comprehend learning that someone we know and love, who we thought we knew so well, suffers from something fatal? Overtime we learn the details of the depths of their addiction. We find ourselves at a loss for words.

Addiction can render anyone speechless. Astonishing is the word for describing the lengths and addict or alcoholic will go to in order to ensure their next intoxication.  Bewildered and taken aback, we might struggle to find the right thing to say. We know that they need all of our love and support during such a challenging time as getting sober. What to say?

How to Talk About A Loved One’s Addiction With Them

First, it is important to understand that saying something is better than saying nothing. Coming from a place of fear in communication is always the wrong first step. Cutting off communication due to fear of saying the wrong thing is harmful. It prevents necessary human to human understanding, empathy, and compassion. Even if what you say is not the “right” thing, by vulnerably opening up out of your own discomfort, you immediately help the other person. That ease can begin with simply letting them know you don’t know what to say.

“There’s nothing I can say that will make recovery easier for you. I am not sure what to say about the information you’ve just given me. I am here to support you and I am proud you are making the decision to receive help.”

Make sure to keep your focus on the other person. Though the news is shocking to you, your loved one is the person fighting a potentially life-threatening disease. Take time to listen to what they have to tell you. If you are unclear what it is they need or want to get help, ask them to clarify. Rather than just asking, “what can I do to help?”, ask specifically what they need you to support them in. When they begin to talk, really listen. Put aside your own thoughts, feelings, judgments, opinions, and fears. Listen to what they have to tell you and they will likely give you all the additional information you need.

Recovery starts with You. Start your recovery with Us. Enlightened Solutions is waiting to answer your questions about your or your loved one’s decision to seek recovery from addiction. We offer spiritually and 12 step based treatment programs to men and women. For more information call 833-801-5483 today.