Nate and Ann (pseudonyms) appeared happily married with two kids. They were both in college and with the kids, happy attended their Christian church regularly. What they did not let anyone know was they were both addicts using marijuana, alcohol, and methamphetamine (consistent with a 9-repeat pattern as they both had ADD since childhood). They were often on the verge of suicidal thoughts and erratic gestures and had many times tried treatment at pricey drug treatment centers without gaining sobriety. Though quality treatment centers, none had worked with them as a family. Others had provided family education, but family education does not treat addiction any more than drug education alone would treat addiction. Their lives were out of control.
We helped Ann get into an outpatient addiction program to reinforce her desire to be drug free, just as Nate was getting kicked out of his latest inpatient program. Though it advertised itself as an intensive center with multiple strategies for addressing resistance, the treatment center found him too difficult to deal with. Most treatment centers provide no family therapy and thus hope/assume that the relationships will heal on their own if the individual can stay drug free long enough. What really works is actually generating healthy recovery through the family relationships providing support for sobriety. Thus, most treatment centers treat the family as “sick enablers” and thus, noncontributory to the addict’s recovery. What we know is that the family members are not sick, but rather victims (like the addict) of the affects of the drugs on the brain and behavior.
As with Nate and Ann, we welcome and empower the family members; supporting them in their recoveries; this being the critical component in their contributing life-saving support to the drug user’s recovery; health for the entire family. We guided their drug recoveries and directly helped them build competence as spouses, parents, and children (we helped them invite their own parents into therapy; generating great relief and comfort to the parents). Ann and Nate are now using the relational and recovery skills in their sobriety and problem-solving (negotiating their boundaries and needs in the family of origin, better working together to address the needs of the two children with disabilities, improving their emotional as well as physical health). They enjoy each other in recovery, while they continue to grow in competence as parents, lovers, children, and spouses. Unlike traditional drug treatment agencies that can only provide family education, we provide counseling for healing addiction through the family.