I had the opportunity to spend some time with Daniel Rich, Program Director for 365 Sober Living this week, and find out why he feels so strongly about incorporating family work into his programs. Here is what I learned about why the family is such an important part of a recovery program:
What is “family work”? In a nutshell, it is facilitating productive communication between our client and their family to determine what behaviors of the family may be contributing to the continued drug and/or alcohol use.
When does it begin? For clients of 365, the family work begins during the initial assessment and intake. First, the client is interviewed individually to get a clear understanding of how they are feeling related to their family situation. Then it’s on to meet with Mom and Dad to get an understanding of the behaviors that led up to treatment. Family involvement during early sobriety lets the facilitator have a closer look at the big picture, and identify any possible deep-rooted problem(s) that may have been a prerequisite to our client’s addiction.
As we go along, we continue to build on the assessment process and the identification of different patterns of the communication between the client and the family. Co-dependency almost always exists to some degree in family dynamics and must be addressed. Often we find that developing a new style of communication amongst the family members allows for resolution of long time resentments and seemingly unsolvable problems of the past. Facilitating positive interaction also provides an opportunity for both the client and the family to release many painful emotions brought about by the addiction.
What are some of the things you address? We discuss family roles, identify ways to improve communication and work to rebuild trust. We help the client and the family by showing them what is helpful and what may be harmful in terms of learning a new way of life in recovery. We teach them new ways to interact that respect the needs and feelings of everyone involved. We work together to identify symptoms and dysfunction in the family unit, and help them see how a flawed family system has impacted all members of the family in different ways. We also educate the family on how to best support their loved one in recovery, identify the warning signs of relapse and how to set healthy boundaries going forward.
What are some of the benefits to bringing the family into the process? It gives the addict a chance to recognize the feelings that their addiction has brought to their family members. All family members are given the opportunity to find healing for themselves and their own issues, and taught how to avoid enabling the addict in their life.
Other benefits to those in early sobriety and their families include:
Gaining a better understanding of the nature of the addiction and how it affects behavior through education.
Offering the family an opportunity for more accurate self-assessment and insight by working with a facilitator. This allows for a clearer awareness of family dynamics and manipulative family patterns that contributed to continued substance abuse, in a safe and healthy environment.
Regaining trust, as dishonesty and substance abuse often go hand in hand. Family members may not want to open their hearts (or wallets) to help a loved one who has betrayed their trust. Improved communication, honest interaction and witnessing positive changes can help mend families.
Taking time to learn how to recognize, balance and express feelings appropriately. Family members may be angry but unable to express it, fearing relapse, or may be excited at the possibility of reconciliation.
Setting and clarifying boundaries (this applies to everyone involved) is not easy, but is necessary to step forward into a healthy recovery for the family.
Learning the importance of self-care. Frequently the focus is on the person with the addiction; however, during family intervention a parent or spouse may learn that they need help, too. Often they are directed to try Al-anon, Nar-anon or Co-DA or other mutual help groups in addition to the education that we provide.
To sum it all up: Danny feels that separating addicts from alcohol and/or drugs without addressing the underlying issues, family dynamics and behaviors that contributed to the abuse is setting them up for failure. Too often those suffering from addiction receive some type of treatment and then return home right after, only to get triggered by old patterns and relapse. He strongly recommends incorporating a local PHP/IOP along with 365 Sober Living as an ideal pathway to long term recovery success, and sometimes refers clients to area therapists when indicated.
365 Sober Living provides highly individualized programs for men who want to recover. In addition to their program, they have established a network of exceptional providers to ensure the best services are available to their clients throughout their stay and beyond.
About Daniel Rich: Danny develops and manages 365’s ongoing program offerings, and leads with an extremely hands-on approach to helping each client achieve success in long term recovery. He takes the time to understand each client’s journey and behaviors, clearly identifying the things that may be blocking them from staying sober and living a happy, productive life. His treatment philosophy includes educating clients’ families on the recovery process, and helping them better understand their loved one so that bringing the family back together becomes possible. To learn more about Danny, please visit 365SoberLiving.com/team.
For more information on 365 Sober Living locations and programs, please call 877-591.5928 or visit 365SoberLiving.com.