talking to your kids about addiction

How to Tell Your Children About Your Addiction

Her drinking started when her children were young. She was helping to take care of her aging aunt. The situation was stressful, and she found that having two glasses of wine with lunch made it easier to cope. Her kids were at school, so she thought her drinking would not affect them, as they wouldn’t notice.

Gradually, her drinking increased. She was late picking up her kids from school because she fell asleep. She had been drinking at lunch. The experience was frightening for them and humiliating for her. Episodes like that began to happen more often--running late, forgetting commitments, not keeping promises. She realized that she needed to get help for her drinking and have an honest conversation about what was happening.

If you recognize yourself in the illustration above, you are not alone. While talking about your addiction with your children may seem frightening, it’s an important conversation to have.

Why the Conversation Matters

Telling your children about your addiction is vital for several reasons. Your children may not recognize your addiction to drugs or alcohol, but they likely know that there is a problem, that something is “off.” Although you may think that you are somehow protecting your children by not discussing your addiction, you aren’t. It is better for your children to know the truth about the situation than to be afraid of something they are unsure of. What they imagine about the problem could very well be worse than the reality.

One of the most important messages you can give your children is that your addiction is not their fault. They didn’t cause your addiction, and it’s not their responsibility to try to “cure” it. Living with a parent who has a substance use disorder can cause children to feel insecure and uncertain. While knowing that mom or dad has a drinking or drug problem won’t necessarily make them feel safer, they will have a better understanding of why they feel the way they feel. Children need to recognize and acknowledge their feelings and to know that whatever they are feeling is real.

Children also need to know that they are not alone--that other families have the same experiences. They also need to know that they can talk about the experience with you. It is also helpful to identify another adult that children can talk to, possibly a relative, family friend, or maybe a teacher or counselor.

Having the Conversation

Finding the right time and place to have the conversation is essential. Have the conversation when the children are relaxed, when there is time to answer any questions that may come up, and when you won’t be interrupted. Be prepared to have more than one conversation--your child may need time to process the information and may come back to you with more questions later. Needing time to understand this issue is typical and expected.

Explaining Treatment

Tell the children about the treatment you will be getting. If you are going to a residential treatment program, tell them where it is, what it’s like, and how long you will be there. If you won’t be able to talk to them for a few days, make sure they know. Let them know when you can have visitors and when you can see them or talk with them on the phone. Make sure that they know that family therapy may be part of the treatment plan. Let them know who will be taking care of them while you are away and when you expect to return from treatment. Also, they must understand that when you return from treatment that you will probably be seeing a therapist regularly and that you will be attending some sort of support group meetings.

Talking with your children about your substance use disorder will be hard, but it is imperative to your children’s emotional well-being. Pretending that the problem doesn’t exist will only make the situation worse. Honest, open communication, difficult as it can be, will improve your relationship with your family. Your children will learn how to talk about difficult topics, and they will learn that challenges and difficulties are a part of life and how to solve them. By admitting that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and getting help, you provide them with a healthy example of how to handle issues like addiction. As a result of your honesty and treatment, your family can become closer, and you can all end up in a much better place in terms of mental health.

If you have a substance use disorder, your whole family is affected. It is essential that you talk about your disorder, especially with your children, if you have any. Your family members may participate in one or more counseling sessions with you during your treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we will include your family in your treatment plan, and we offer education and support programs for family members. We also can help you gain the communication skills you need to talk about your addiction with your family. We are a licensed co-occurring treatment center, and as such, we treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction. Our program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. It includes traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities such as yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, and art and music therapy. Our facility is near the southern New Jersey shore, and we customize treatment for each client. Our focus is on healing the whole person rather than just treating the addiction. If you seek recovery and relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483.

 


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.

 


Families and Detox

If you’re a friend, family member, or coworker of a loved one entering treatment, it’s quite possible that you may be nervous about what’s to come next. Many people who are trying to support their loved one in addiction recovery fear detoxification, because the exact process through this journey isn’t talked about as often. In fact, there may be many questions that you have, such as what they’ll experience, how this will impact their recovery, what success or failure looks like in sobriety and more. These questions are important, and while we can’t always control our loved one’s process in recovery, we do have control over our words and actions, to provide the best support possible. The first step of addiction recovery is detox, which occurs either naturally or is assisted with medication; with detox, a person’s body rids the toxins that it’s acquired throughout the addiction. It’s important to note that detoxification isn’t meant to be used by itself, but as only a beginning part of the long-term treatment recovery process. 

First and foremost, you’ll need to assess whether your loved one is in a good place to begin detoxification. When discovering what types of treatment centers are out there, you’ll want to take particular note of the amazing support and services that are offered at Enlightened Solutions. Not all treatment centers are the same, so it’s important that your loved one seek out help at a reputable treatment center where a person’s complete health and wellness are taken into consideration and treatment is looked at holistically. At Enlightened Solutions, you and your loved one can expect to receive the following:

  • A respectful, nonjudgmental, and supportive atmosphere where individuals can feel “normal” and can receive education to reduce stigma of addiction
  • Services that are accessible and focused on what client’s need individually
  • Opportunities for family members to become involved, such as through family therapy, so that the family unit as a whole can become more cohesive together

Once you’ve decided to enroll your loved one at the proper facility, treatment will begin.

One of the most challenging steps for individuals in moving forward with recovery is the step of entering detox. If your loved one has reached this step, that’s a good sign. Of course, detoxification is a rough process for many people because their body is still getting used to the state of sobriety – when substance abuse has been present for so long, the mind and body must then learn to readjust and get used to living without it in order for sobriety to take place. There are a number of uncomfortable symptoms that can appear, such as: 

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting, etc.
  • Muscle tension, twitches, muscle aches
  • Sweating, tingling
  • Anxiety, restlessness, panic attacks, irritability
  • Social isolation, depression, fatigue, etc.
  • Poor concentration, difficulty remembering things

It may feel easy to get angry or retaliate when your loved one exhibits these symptoms, but you must remember that this process isn’t easy for them either – in fact, they may very well be hating the fact that they’re experiencing some of these symptoms, and they need all the support they can get. Medication may be able to assist your loved one in managing these symptoms, but the symptoms may pursue in varying degrees until the detox period is over. The type of medication that your loved one may receive in treatment does depend on the symptoms they’re experiencing, the severity of their addiction, their mental and physical health history and so much more.

Many family members can find this part of detox challenging, as this means they must continue to be patient and supportive, aware of the “bigger picture” – even if their loved one can’t necessarily see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” To be a family member or friend during this challenging time can be exhausting, but it’s nonetheless important for them to stick with it.

Most people in addiction recovery come to rely on their friends and family members to help them get through the ups and downs associated with detoxification. It’s nice for those in recovery to include their loved ones as part of treatment, and oftentimes this helps them to keep moving forward in their journey to sobriety. 

Enlightened Solutions is a treatment center that uses evidence-based methods of recovery to focus on your loved one’s individuality through holistic treatment to help them get sober from drugs and alcohol. We offer a comprehensive range of services including outpatient treatment, post-rehab services, continuing care, and long-term treatment.  If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE to learn how we can help your loved one find the care and support they need to live a healthier and happier life in recovery. 


When Addiction Runs in the Family

Traumatic Family Dynamics

Many of us dealing with mental health issues and addictions share a commonality; we have experienced some form of trauma. One source of our trauma can be the family dynamics of the home environments we grew up in. Trauma can chip away at our sense of self, our feelings of safety and security, and our understanding of peace, love and family. When a person is traumatized at any age, but especially in the formative childhood years, this affliction of soul and spirit can manifest in very toxic ways.

Many of us come from “broken homes,” families that were divided by divorce, separation, violence, incarceration, or death. In such homes, there are many family dynamics that come into play- here are a few:

Abuse

One form of trauma that readily comes to mind is that of abuse. Abuse can take place physically, emotionally, mentally, or any combination thereof. The spectrum of abuse can be wide: from severe violence to persistent insults. No matter the severity of the abuse, an abused child will often show signs of fear and anger, such as high anxiety or volatile outbursts. Any of these things can morph into addiction, depression, or any other form of mental or emotional unwellness.

Conflict

Children can sense when there is conflict in the home, whether that conflict is expressed or not. As families, and as humans, we absorb each other’s energies, and children especially so, with their still-forming minds and hearts, their innocence and their sensitivity. When parents or caregivers are not at peace with one another, children know. Fights are scary to little people and can have a lasting impact on their sense of security.

Silence

Just as loud arguments and violent fights can be especially frightening to children, so too can silence. People withdraw from one another for many reasons. A parent might be depressed and unable to talk. Another parent may be holding onto residual anger or resentment towards the other parent. Some families continuously sweep things under the rug and never resolve conflicts. Others simply stop talking. When family members choose silence over communication, the energetic space between them can be filled with toxicity. In that silence there is so much unspoken hurt, bitterness, fear-  all of which manifest more pain, especially for the child caught in the middle.

We all need safe spaces to communicate our worries, our fears, our pain. We need to be able to express these things and be met with compassion and empathy. When we aren’t able to, our most painful emotions can have a tendency to become stuck within us, creating blocks, which can develop into all kinds of mental health issues and addictions.

Many of us have experienced trauma within our families. We address this and so many other important issues at Enlightened Solutions. Call (833) 801-LIVE today.


Helping a Loved One With a Drinking Problem

Helping a Loved One With a Drinking Problem

When a person drinks excessive amounts of alcohol despite the negative consequences that it causes, he or she might have a drinking problem. A person with a drinking problem cannot control how much they drink or continues to drink after having too much.

The signs of having a drinking problem are:

  • Drinking more than intended
  • Inability to cut back on drinking
  • A lot of time spent thinking about alcohol and the next drink
  • Missing work, school, or other important activities
  • Having relationship problems due to drinking alcohol
  • A lot of time recovering from the effects of alcohol

If you want to help a loved one who has a drinking problem, there are some important "Do's" and "Don'ts" to be aware of before approaching him or her with your concerns.

  • Never use shameful, demeaning, or negative language
  • Do not threaten or plead
  • Do not lecture
  • Do not use labels when talking about the problem
  • Express your concern for his or her health
  • Offer to see an addiction counselor with him or her
  • Use "I" statements to express how his or her drinking affects you

A person might not be aware he or she has a drinking problem and could have an underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed. Many people with depression, anxiety, or PTSD turn to alcohol as a way to escape the symptoms of their mental health condition. The individual can feel guilty, shamed, or have low self-esteem.

Join a support group with your loved one and talk to others in similar situations. Learn about the struggles that other members have with alcohol and listen to people share their stories with alcohol addiction. Connect with others in the group who can be a positive influence on you and your loved one.

Encourage your loved one to get help and offer to go with him or her to see a counselor or therapist who specializes in alcohol addiction. Attend group meetings with him or her and show your loved one that you care about his or her well-being.

Recovery begins with you. You have to make the decision, now, to call and ask for help, get to treatment, and start a transformational, life-changing journey. The power to heal is yours. Let Enlightened Recovery Solutions show you the path of holistic treatment, bringing together the best practices of evidence-based clinical care, proven alternative healing practices, and trusted 12-step philosophy. Call 833-801-5483 today for information on our partial care programs.


Addiction is a Family Disease

Addiction is a Family Disease

While in the disease of addiction, one may feel that there is no way out. Denial can be so strong it might seem like tunnel vision. Friends and family members may begin to feel that there is no hope for recovery in their loved one- which is extremely depleting and frustrating. Those who have been enabling addictive behavior, must learn about the harms of enabling and why it must be immediately stopped. However, there should be no shame put forth onto the friends and family members of someone struggling with addiction. If there is to be any progress in getting a loved one struggling with addiction the help they need, it’s time for an intervention.

Interventions give those who truly care about their family member or friend struggling with addiction a safe place to have a necessary confrontation. There should be no judgment or prejudice. In no circumstances, should there be screaming and/or violence. Intervening in someone’s life must come from a loving place. There should be a plan put in place, such as detox and treatment. This is the first step in getting the person in the disease away from the substance’s tight hold. Loved ones may have a hard time standing firm, but they too need to accept the powerlessness of the disease. Things have to change and there’s no better time than the present.

There is always the chance that people will not accept help. If this happens there must be consequences. The enabling must stop and there will have to be new found means of survival or life without certain luxuries. The person with the additive behavior needs to hear from loved ones the harm they had caused and the pleas for action. Communication is key for an intervention to take place, which is why it is encouraged to utilize an intervention specialist. This way, family members can learn where they can go for help as well. If there is more than one family member in the addiction, arrangements will be made. It’s a solution for families as a whole because, in the end, it is a family disease.

 

Enlightened Solutions offers help with addiction, alcoholism and/or mental health. All whose affected will benefit from the healing process. Come to New Jersey and start fighting for a better life today. For more information call: 833-801-LIVE.


Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

Before an addict enters treatment there are many aspects of life are lacking. When abusing substances it is hard to main healthy relationships with friends and family. Depending on how functioning the addict was, the range of seclusion varied from those who had only good intent. Some were able to hide their addiction well, while others fell into a life of isolation only allowing others who were enabling their usage. Addicts in the disease push out everyone in their life who might get in their way of getting high. It may get to the point where the addict only communicates with other addicts and/or drug dealers. It’s an extremely lonely feeling for the addict and it becomes easy to slip into the victim role. Until the addict decides to accept recovery, more loved ones tend to slip away.

Upon entering treatment the addict is suggested to cut off contact with others who are still using. It’s time to move forward and never look back. When the addict regains their healthy state of mind, they will find that they will attract others who live healthy lifestyles. The addict who learns how to set boundaries with friends and family will find a new confidence within. There are those who are “people pleasers” and those who are more controlling but both need to know the balance between the two. Boundaries help the addict feel safe and secure in any relationship. Although it’s recommended not to get in a relationship the first year of sobriety, when the addict it ready, this applies to romantic relationships as well. The concept that “two sicks, don’t make a well” can offer a simple explanation. If a relationship doesn’t serve the addict, it’s okay to move on. No one is forcing a relationship on anyone and although it may be painful, it’s apart of life that will need to be handled properly. It may be uncomfortable but that’s part of the transformation.

The addict becomes aware again of the importance of the intuition. In early recovery, it’s essential to listen to the treatment staff or others who support the addict’s recovery. After some time of sobriety, the addict will be able to feel in their gut or intuition who they should surround themselves. Boundaries can difficult to set and it takes practice. It’s suggested the addict attend support groups which will be a learning experience in boundaries setting right off the bat. Following the recommendations of others who manage well in sobriety, can give the addict an example to follow. Once the addict establishes relationships in life, there will be less of a need to numb the resentful communications with others. The law of attraction will come into play, and the addict will be able to let go of the painful past a little more each day.

If you are struggling with addiction, Enlightened Solutions offers group therapy geared towards maintaining healthy relationships while boundaries. With our holistic, clinical, and 12-step approach, an addicted loved one can learn how to respect themselves and others. Come to New Jersey and begin your path to recovery today: 833-801-5483.