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5 Things You Need to Know About Relapse
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

People in recovery and their families are often terrified of relapse. Understanding the following 5 points may help.

1. Relapse is common. Although relapses are not inevitable, they are common. Many people have one or more relapses before achieving long-lasting sobriety or abstinence. This does not mean the end of efforts toward abstinence and recovery. The person needs to get back into treatment and the family needs to continue attending a support group, professional counseling, or both.

2. Work together to prevent relapse. People in recovery may have frequent urges to drink or use drugs, and feel guilty about it, even though these urges are a normal part of recovery. It’s important to work together to anticipate high-risk situations (such as a party where alcohol will be served) and plan ways to prevent them.

3. Relapse can happen during good times, too. Sometimes relapse occurs when the person is doing well with their recovery. He or she feels healthy, confident, and/or “cured” and believes that he or she is ready to go back to casual, regular or “controlled” use of drugs or alcohol. The person may remember the honeymoon period of their use (even though it may have been long ago) — where his or her use didn’t cause problems — and may want to return to that place. But this is often impossible since addiction changes the physical makeup of the brain and the person is recovery is no longer able to use drugs or alcohol in a controlled fashion.

4. If relapse occurs. Medical professionals, particularly those who specialize in substance use disorders, are an extremely important asset during a time of relapse. They can help the person learn techniques for containing feelings, focusing on the present, and making use of support from others. Relying on group support from Twelve Step programs, engaging in prayer or meditation, and finding other ways to stay on an even keel can also be extremely helpful.

5. Learn from relapse. Experts have found that a relapse can serve as an important opportunity for the recovering person and other family members to identify what triggered the relapse in the first place — and find ways to avoid it in the future.

Posted by Intervene Staff  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Drugs, Family Therapy, getting help, parenting, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, relapse, Substance Abuse, Twelve Step, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



Cuisinart-Head: My Mom Was Spinning from My Brother’s Drug Addiction
Friday, February 15th, 2013

Like so many, my family has been touched by addiction. Our heads constantly spun for years as we tried to find the way to fix the addicts we love so dearly. Cuisinart-head is a term borrowed from a family addictions consultant – it perfectly described my mom’s mentality in the midst of my brother Chris’s addiction. Her head swirled with the familiar stew of questions parents of addicts will know all too well:

  • How does this facility compare to that one?
  • Where did Jane say she sent her son to? Did he like it?
  • Will Chris like Dr. Jones?
  • Why is Dr. Jones prescribing Lithium? What will it do to Chris?

Meds. Rehabs. The detox world tour. How can a mother desperate to help her son possibly make sense of all of this? Well, Mom tried. A discussion with one person would lead to another contact, and mom filled five notebooks with information. Chris may have gone through 12 facilities, but mom kept extensive notes on 25. She logged the 30 medications he was on over seven years and their associated side effects, along with notes from 28 providers she trusted. She called on any resource – published authors, researchers, psychiatrists, parents of other addicted children.

Mom was the super-case manager, addicted to Chris’s addiction and the quest to find the right program, therapist, coach, approach that would save him.  And Chris stood still, waiting for the next placement, or professional to meet with, seemingly unaware or unimpressed by Mom’s frantic efforts to keep him alive. We want to expect different behavior from an addict in response to an outpouring of loving effort, but those who have experienced this ride know that that rarely happens. Cuisinart-head can’t move an unwilling addict.

Addiction often causes this dynamic – a family consumed with information and plans for the addict and the addict unwilling/uninterested/unmotivated to change his or her behavior. For mom, research distracted her from her anger toward Chris, disappointment in his choices and frustration that he couldn’t just “stop using and return toward a normal life.” Instead of confronting uncomfortable emotions, it was easier to obsess over how to solve the problem. This thought stew can become at least a coping mechanism if not an outright addiction unto itself.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, Mom’s mental “spinning” didn’t solve Chris’s addiction. It made her feel as though she was “doing something,” and it did generate options but also created a lot of anxiety and second-guessing. Mom’s hyper-focus on the details obscured the real loss she mourned: her dreams for her son’s future.  But we now know that distress over a loved one’s future as a non-addict can consume the family’s present with little result.

Thankfully, our story has a happy ending, and my brother is leading a productive, happy life in recovery.

Families often ask “What did it?” and the truth is there are probably a lot of factors – Chris was older, “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” financial support was cut off, his last treatment center was a good match with a strong young person’s AA community and focus on yoga and meditation.

Mom no longer spends her time in Cuisinart-head spells trying to fix him. A couple of years into the madness, my mom stepped back and realized this process could continue for years and went into individual therapy. She had a place with an impartial observer to share her fears for Chris’ future, discuss her anger toward him and relay her concerns for my father’s health, which had been impacted throughout Chris’ journey.  My mom’s therapist gave her the confidence to remain clear-headed in crisis and helped her manage her emotions in a healthy way, which improved her interactions with Chris and thoughts related to his care.

For those who struggle with Cuisinart-head now, I would encourage you to prioritize your physical and emotional health. My mom’s research and calls weren’t incorrect actions, but in isolation, they created an unhealthy obsession and belief that she could fix Chris’ addiction by finding the perfect option for him.  In her case, a therapist was able to provide guidance and a space for her to discuss what happens if none of her efforts worked.

I hope that you can find some hope in our story and that you call on resources in your local area. Share your story below, talk with a therapist or coach, attend Al-Anon or another peer support group, call The Partnership at Drugfree.org toll-free Parent Helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE) – seek out guidance from others to stop the spinning.

Posted by Arden O'Connor  /  Filed under Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family members, Family Therapy, Finding Treatment, getting help, parenting, Patience, Recovery, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



9 Steps to Take When Your Recovering Teen Comes Home from Treatment
Friday, June 10th, 2011

recovering teen coming home again

It is easy to have high expectations for a teen coming home from some kind of treatment, but what they need to know, is how important they are to their recovery — that failure is not the end and success is up to them.  Substance use disorder creates stress for a family and there is no guarantee of the outcome of recovery without diligence. You know who your teen is.  What comes after treatment is more work.  Finding ways to deal with it are critical.  There are resources everywhere and the web is a good place to start, even to find a meeting.  There are also, ways for the whole family to just work together that enhances the success of a teen’s recovery.  Here are a few:

1.    Willingly, engage in the process of recovery. Recovery takes the whole family. You’ve survived together through major crises. You now have the chance to repair family bonds.

2.    See this in a new light. You know that your teen’s substance abuse was not a passing fad, so “accept” your teen’s addiction.  Try on addiction as a disease, not a moral problem. Look at recovery as an enduring process not a single event.  Don’t view relapse as a failure, but accept sobriety, at any time as a success; usually, the biggest success in an addict’s life.

3.    View your teen as an important. They have a huge burden and deserve to know the freedom of sobriety.  We forget that each of us, are the most important person in our own lives.  Knowing that, gives us the strength to make it.  No one can do what we do for ourselves.  A recovering addict needs to accept who they are to stay sober.  Drugs were a way of hiding and eventually became a way of life.  Sobriety depends on facing ourselves, head on, while staying sober one day at a time.

4.    Respect your teen’s return home by expecting what you would of a house guest. Encourage courtesy, gratitude and other human graces.  These attributes will heal dysfunction in the family.  Living with a recovering teen is still a challenge, but kindness and mutuality will help everyone.

5.    Put expectations aside. Parents usually have big plans for their teens!  Right now, staying sober is as big an accomplishment as any.  Placing more importance on anything else is stress that your teen might not need for a while.  Encourage your teen to resume education and work activities at his or her own pace.  Recommend physical exercise, lots of water, sleep and healthy food.

6.    Don’t underestimate addiction. Without diligence, sobriety can crumble.  Have a plan for relapse.  Encourage daily 12 step meetings to create bonds with other sober teens. Treatment plans should cover these things.  Al-anon is a good counter-plan for a parent.  If a teen relapses, you can maintain your emotional sobriety.  A teen getting back on track can happen just as quickly as they relapse.  Remember, failure is just another step closer to success.

7.    Be resilient and be prepared. Living with an addict who relapsed can necessitate outside help and tough consequences.  Do this rationally and discuss consequences with your teen.   If relapse persists, consider co-occurring disorders which might negate your teen’s ability to engage recovery without counseling and/or psychiatric evaluation.  It gets harder to deal with this once your child turns 18.

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Posted by Bill Ford  /  Filed under Addiction, Family Therapy, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, Taking Care of Yourself  /  Comments: more



Finding Treatment for Addicted Teens
Thursday, November 12th, 2009

When my daughter was spinning out of control from her addiction, there were difficult decisions to be made. One of the most frustrating things was seeking treatment options for her. I spent a lot of time, effort, and money on programs that did not work — before finding a successful solution.

Failed attempt number one began when I called the number on the back of my insurance card and followed the recommendation to admit Lauren into an adolescent psychiatric hospital. Most of their patients were there for severe mental and emotional problems that required medication. They were not prepared to take on a case like Lauren and made many suggestions that were actually detrimental, like suggesting I send her away to spend time with relatives after her release. Even with ongoing counseling, once she returned home, she was back to business as usual.

The second attempt was a local hospital offering an outpatient substance abuse program. This was equally dismal since their primary strategy for helping her was telling her she needed to change her ways.  When the head counselor informed me they were kicking her out of the program because she was still using drugs and supplying them to other patients, I fought back.  Why did they think I had her there in the first place?  Weren’t they supposed to be the experts?

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Posted by Karen Franklin  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family Therapy, Finding Treatment, Recovery, Treatment  /  Comments: more



Acceptance: Regaining Trust and Rebuilding the Family Unit
Thursday, October 8th, 2009

With our emotional wound still open, our entire family, including my stepdaughter Katherine, began the process of building back the trust we once shared.  This would prove to be rewarding as well as exceptionally painful. 

Sitting, circular fashion in a room with at least 10 other families we openly disclosed our feelings of anger, fear, loneliness, distrust as well as resentment.  “Family Week” had begun and there would be no holding back as we were guided through various discussions with our loved ones.  The building blocks to fostering a new cohesive, trusting and loving family were being tossed around the room while we slowly, and painstakingly, examined the cracks that were created, their affects and how to seal them and move on.

The dynamics within the family are key to opening the doors to change.  When an addiction is present the need it is vital to focus on new ways of coping and “non-enabling” behaviors.  Both patients and family members often rationalize behaviors which creates an environment that hangs around like a thick fog — perpetuating feelings of inadequacies and creating the dysfunctional cycle that is extremely hard to break.

There were at least four general areas of focus that our family concentrated on, which I elaborate on below.  Keep in mind, that although I went through the recovery process with my stepdaughter, I am not a certified authority; I was just a family member trying to recapture and rebuild what was lost.  Every family’s issues will be different, yet similar in many ways.  Issues will surface and may compound as you work on restructuring your family -– it’s not easy.  But having experts, who allowed us to express our emotions and feelings in a controlled, safe and healthy environment, was incredibly instrumental.

1. BLAMING:  DO WE BLAME OURSELVES OR OUR CHILD?

It almost goes without saying that when an addiction is present, family members will find the blame game is alive and well.  We had elements of blaming ourselves as parents and role models, believing that the reason Katherine defied everything we believed in was an attempt to “get back” at us for our wrongdoings. 

At Family Week we opened up the floodgates, allowing ourselves to examine with minute detail (on both sides) where our thinking had been

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Posted by Linda Quirk  /  Filed under Dealing with an Addicted Child, Enabling, Family History, Family Therapy, Recovery, Treatment  /  Comments: more






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