A heartfelt note from Stephen Watts in Outreach
Earlier this year, I “lost” a potential client for Futures Recovery Healthcare to another treatment center. There was no comparison between the two programs. Futures is a stand alone program and was the perfect fit for the client’s needs. I lost the client because his well meaning parents did not want their loved one ”going far away” for treatment. This occurrence, which happens far too often, is the back-story for this blog.
I have been working with families in the context of treatment for over forty years. I think I am qualified to share some thoughts on the matter. For those who have loved ones in need of treatment please keep reading:
- When your family member asks for help or is finally open to help, treat the matter with urgency. For many reasons there is a narrow window of time for intervention before the fear and denial whittle away resolve.
- Support your loved one’s decision. “That is a great decision!” “I am behind you one hundred percent” or “This is the right decision for you now!” are all examples. Your support may mean the difference in your family member’s willingness to follow through with treatment.
- Staying close to one’s family has nothing to do with good treatment. Good treatment is about the client and his or her needs. Often, it is best for there to be a separation from the family, a “time-out”, for the healing to begin. Family systems always become dysfunctional as a result of the disease. Let them go where they are getting the best chance at lasting sobriety. The family’s part is to work on their own recovery. The disease of chemical dependency has impacted everyone.
- Begin your own recovery by working with a knowledgeable professional and by participating in Al-Anon or some other support group. Recovery will be, at times, just as arduous and scary for you as it is for your family member. You need not “go it alone.”
Families can support and help by knowing when to “get out of the way” when the need for treatment arises. Families can inadvertently hinder the process by remaining stuck in their own ”disease.” As Al-Anon says, “Just because you mean to be helpful doesn’t mean that you are.” Families can and heal and recover. I have witnessed this many times.