Why Focus on the Family?
Families normally think “If he/she would just stop drinking or using, everything would be fine.” This is surprisingly untrue. Although the root of the problem is substance abuse, family dysfunction grows over time as well. Families are slowly conditioned to aid the abuser without even knowing it.
- If you are distant, the alcoholic can drink from loneliness.
- If you are confrontational, the addict may use it out of resentment.
- If you are nurturing, the abuser can see that as forgiveness.
- The game is rigged, it would appear you can’t win.
At Synergistic, our goal is to educate the family on how they have been unwittingly drafted into behaving in ways that make it easier for the alcoholic to keep drinking, or the addict to keep using. Each family member fills a role (sometimes more than one, and sometimes they shift) in this dysfunctional drama. Learning who plays what part is empowering.
For the substance abuser, stopping is just the start!
For the family, it is every bit as important to see, recognize, and begin to change their unhealthy behaviors as well.
During an intervention, emotions run high. Old grudges, anger, and manipulations can quickly resurface. This can completely derail the process and put the power back into the hands of the addict. If the family reacts, the alcoholic may get angry and storm out, hoping things will go back to normal (whatever they think that is). Which is exactly what they want!
Instead, having educated the family, who are now equipped with the necessary tools, we can stay focused on our objective, which is positive progress towards recovery for the family including (but not dependent on) their loved one. “We’d like you to join us, but even if you don’t, we are going to change.”
If, as we hope, your loved one enters treatment, things are going to be different. A sigh of relief is often followed by worry, doubt, and fear. Did we do the right thing? What if it doesn’t work? Could I have been a better parent/wife/husband? All of these are valid concerns that need to be addressed. Improving your family dynamic in such a way that you can talk to each other now, without repercussions, in order to continue making healthy decisions as a team, is our goal.
While in treatment your loved one will go through monumental changes. They may be relieved the burden is being lifted, scared for the future, or angry at your family. These are normal responses that will be addressed. As a family, you may be experiencing similar emotions and will need to learn how to communicate in this new dynamic. We can help navigate these tricky waters and continue to help throughout the process.
We also strongly encourage the family to attend (virtually or otherwise) outside support groups such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and others. These groups are free and open to families of substance abusers worldwide. Help is available and we can show you where to find it. You are not alone. The vast majority of people who are in recovery are eager to help. You just have to know where to look and be willing.
Synergistic is here to help if you need us.