Green Family

The Green (a pseudonym) family is typical of those uniquely served by family-centered addiction recovery.  This story shows how most all, old-style, traditional drug treatment centers provide family education, assuming drug-influenced family patterns (many passed down over generations) will easily change with new information alone.  They do not.

Betty was so concerned about her 36 yo son, Joe, she came to see us.  He was unable to complete a master’s degree due to his drinking and cocaine use.  He had been fired from every job in his life, even from those given him by his loving stepfather.  Betty wisely declined to consider an intervention.  Though Joe had 10 years previous completed one of the most expensive inpatient addiction treatment programs in the country, and the family attending the onsite family education sessions, he had only briefly been sober.  She brought her husband to our office.  He desperately wanted to support Joe in getting out of the drug use.  Next, the entire family began the Family Recovery Program, including Joe.  This is one of many families for which the best looking intervention (just like on TV) would not work.

Rather than an intervention, the family entered family recovery knowing they all needed help being a healthy family.  Getting the drug user to attend family therapy is rarely a challenge for us.  While most old fashioned interventionists believe you have to ambush, research and current practice strategies show this simply is not the case.   When the family invites the drug user as we guide, about 90% attend sessions when the family.

In the seven sessions attended, the family brought additional in-laws and vacationing relatives to the therapy sessions to enjoy the empowerment and growth.  All were growing and gaining, except those in active addiction.  Mom and dad had been able to address major marital issues that had not only plagued them for years, but would have undermined an intervention attempt.  As is anticipated with a family in this situation, the family learned how healthy families pull together.   Having learned and incorporated into their relationships the skills of family cohesion and problem-solving, they now had the capacity to lovingly address Joe’s addiction.  With extreme anguish, Joe went to inpatient treatment to get dry and sober again because the family now had the skills to help him surrender.  This is what Joe needed; a healthy family with which to live in as a recovering addict.  Though within the Family Recovery Program, the family had provided an effective intervention.

With our family recovery counseling, reported and observed results are usually immediate.  We do not use videos or long lectures as this is not a family education program.  Family education helps families only to the degree that addiction education alone would help addicts; it does not.  This is a potent skill-building recovery program for addicts with families and those struggling with co-dependency.  In an affirming and enjoyable atmosphere, we explicitly model and guide acquisition of healthy skills while adjusting structural family problems.  These skills are also consistent with findings and recommendations from drug prevention research for children.

Many addicts arrest their relapse by bringing their families into recovery with us; not for more abstinence counseling, but rather for addressing the family issues fueling relapse.  As with the Green family, The Family Recovery Program can be an adjunct to a powerful intervention.