Archive for January, 2017

Advice for parents of addicted children.

Do you remember the first time you held your son or daughter? Becoming a parent is a great joy, but it’s also a great responsibility. You probably felt a weight of responsibility in that moment, not only to provide for your child, but also to guide him to make choices for himself.

Guiding a young child to do the right thing is certainly difficult, but it can be much harder to parent an adult or older teenager, especially when that adult is addicted to drugs or alcohol. As the mom or dad of someone who abuses substances, you may feel many emotions at once: fear, resentment, sympathy, and a feeling of complete loss as to how you might convince an adult to change his or her behavior.

First of all, remember that you are not alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as much as 6 percent of Americans have an alcohol dependency problem. For every person who abuses drugs and alcohol, there is a network of loved ones and friends who are just as affected by that addiction. Feeling isolated and powerless will not help you assist your son or daughter, and it will not help you find peace in your own life.

Instead, here are some ways that you can take a proactive approach when interacting with a loved one who abuses drugs and alcohol.

For you and your family members:

  • Don’t blame yourself: Many parents of addicts feel a profound sense of guilt, going over every second of the past to find the one moment they could have done something differently. The truth is that every parent makes mistakes. Whatever your faults, you must accept that your son or daughter has free will. Working through difficulties in family relationships can be an important part of rehabilitation, but don’t allow your son or daughter to use your mistakes to avoid taking responsibility for her behavior.
  • Learn as much as you can about addiction: Every year, researchers conduct scientific studies about the causes and effects of addiction. We’re learning more about how drugs and alcohol interact with the body and how addiction is caused by chemical changes in the brain. Knowing that addiction is a physical problem can help you better understand your son or daughter’s actions, and give you hope that recovery is possible. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence are useful resources for learning more about the way addiction affects the body.
  • Seek support: You do not have to go through this alone. There are many other parents and families who are experiencing or have experienced the same struggle. Joining a support group can help you meet friends who can relate to your experiences and offer advice about how to support your child. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous family groups are a great option. You can also use Mental Health America’s online tools to find groups in your area.

For your son or daughter:

  • Love your son or daughter without enabling: No parent wants to see their son or daughter suffer. You may prefer giving her money, regardless of what it might be used for, instead of worrying if she has enough food or a safe place to sleep. But helping without caution only contributes to the problem. Hold yourself accountable to loving your child without enabling: buy groceries instead of offering money, tell her that you love her without letting her make excuses.
  • Find your son or daughter professional rehabilitation services: Addiction is a disease. You wouldn’t try to cure yourself or your loved one from cancer, and you can’t fight the physical and emotional causes of addiction without the expertise of professionals either. St. Joseph Institute offers residential services for people ages 18 and up, which includes a family program that helps family members work through the emotional issues surrounding addiction together.

Dealing with a son or daughter who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is extremely difficult, but it does not have to be impossible. Make use of existing networks and resources to help you support your son or daughter through a successful recovery.

To learn more about our programs or for a campus tour  of St. Joseph Institute, please visit our website. You can also call us directly at 877-727-4465. 

Loving someone suffering from drug or alcohol addiction isn’t easy, but as a family member you’ll play a vital role in helping your loved one on the path to recovery. Multiple studies have shown that people with substance problems who have caring and supportive family members are less likely to relapse than those without strong social networks.

Make Time for Yourself
When you’re flying on an airplane, the flight attendant will instruct you to always put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others in an emergency situation. This advice also applies to helping a loved one recovering from substance abuse. If you’re exhausted and stressed out, you won’t be able to provide the support your loved one needs.

Tending to your own needs isn’t selfish. It’s the best way to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility of being a supportive caregiver. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Find a support group and/or therapist for yourself so you have a safe place to discuss how addiction has impacted your life.
  • Make a conscious effort to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep to give your body the energy you need to be a source of support for your loved one.
  • Take time to engage in stress relieving hobbies such as painting, writing in a journal, or listening to music.

Focus on the Positive
People suffering from addiction often do terrible things to the ones they love the most. They may steal to support their habit, become physically aggressive, or lash out at those who are urging them to seek help. Forgiving your family member for these bad behaviors will be a challenge, but it’s best to avoid bringing up past mistakes while your loved one is in recovery. He or she probably already feels intense guilt and shame.

It’s much better to focus on the progress your loved one is making towards a clean and sober life. Verbal praise and physical signs of affection can be an invaluable source of support for the addict who is working to master healthy behaviors.

Strive to be respectful and treat your loved one with dignity throughout the recovery process. Remember that addiction isn’t a simple lack of willpower. It’s a complex disease that requires time and comprehensive treatment to overcome.

Create a Supportive Environment
When your family member is ready to come home, try to create an environment that sets the stage for success. Here are some tips:

  • Purchase a large calendar to add reminders for doctors’ appointments and support group meetings. Ask other family members to help make sure your loved one sticks to the schedule and has the necessary transportation.
  • Consider attending worship services as a family. Prayer and an exploration of spirituality often play a key role in helping addicts manage their condition. You may also find that turning to God provides you with a source of strength during this challenging time.
  • Know the HALT symptoms. This acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These conditions are well known to trigger the urge to use, so you can be supportive by creating a family schedule with regular times for meals, stress-relieving hobbies, socialization, and sleep.
  • Be a good listener. Although you can find lots of information about addiction online, it’s important to keep in mind that no two people in recovery are like. Sit down with your loved one for an open and honest conversation about what you can do to be supportive. Do your best to take this feedback to heart, even if some of the requests weren’t what you were expecting.

Don’t Lose Hope
Change is possible as long as you have hope. No matter what struggles your family has endured in the past, you can move forward on the path to a brighter future. The journey won’t be easy, but there are no limits to what a loving family can accomplish together.

Overcoming addiction requires a strong support system. Faith-based recovery programs are rooted in the belief that there’s no greater source of support than God himself.

Faith-Based Recovery vs. Traditional Rehab Programs
Faith-based recovery programs take a holistic approach to addiction recovery. They treat addiction as a disease that affects the body, mind, and spirit. Key principles behind this approach include:

  • An exploration of one’s spirituality is seen as a way to promote peace and connection.
  • Participants are encouraged to trust God to provide the support they need to begin the healing process.
  • Instead of being greeted with shame or judgement, participants are urged to practice self-compassion and forgiveness.
  • Letting go of the past is the only way to work towards a brighter future.
  • God is powerful and all knowing, but individual human beings aren’t expected to have their lives all figured out. Past mistakes are simply part of your personal journey.

Faith-based recovery programs encourage participants to explore their relationship with God through meditation, prayer, reflection, and Bible study. They are guided and encouraged to find a personal way to connect with a higher power for strength and emotional support.

Participants in faith-based recovery program still receive counseling, nutrition education, stress management support, and evidence-based treatment for any co-occurring disorders. The only difference is that the exploration of one’s spirituality is integrated throughout every step of the treatment process.

Benefits of Faith-Based Recovery
No one type of substance abuse treatment program is right for everyone. Every addicted person has their own unique challenges when it comes to understanding the roots of their addiction. However, some of the benefits of a faith-based recovery include:

  • A less selfish and self-seeking world outlook
  • Fewer feelings of self-pity and regret over past decisions
  • Healing past emotional wounds
  • Confidence in your ability to handle situations that might trigger the urge to drink or use drugs
  • A renewed sense of hope and purpose
  • A connection to a supportive group of likeminded individuals

Preventing Relapse
One common concern people have when seeking any substance abuse treatment is whether the program will prevent relapse. Faith-based recovery programs work to reduce the risk of relapse by educating participants in the 5 Ps of recovery:

Purpose: Setting actionable goals and working towards dreams gives those in recovery the motivation to continue despite obstacles.
Practice: Changing your brain’s response to stressful situations and embracing healthier behavior patterns is a skill that takes practice, much like learning to play a musical instrument or speak a foreign language.
Perseverance: Sobriety requires patience. It doesn’t happen immediately. Rather, the recovery process is a journey taken one day at a time.
Pray: Asking a higher power for guidance and wisdom combats feelings of weakness. Prayer can serve as a powerful way to cope with addiction triggers.
Praise: Focusing on positive accomplishments instead of dwelling on past mistakes robs addiction of its power. Expressing gratitude for one’s blessings also serves to provide a sense of perspective.

Participants in faith-based recovery programs often begin attending regular worship services in their communities after they’re discharged from treatment. This helps build a social connection that combats the loneliness and isolation that drives addiction.

Determining If a Faith-Based Recovery Program Is Right for You
St. Joseph Institute is a Christian non-denominal program that’s not connected to any church or religious organization. Anyone who wants to discover how deepening their faith can help them face the challenge of clean and sober living is welcome. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actively attended worship services your entire life or if you’re just now expressing the desire to explore your spirituality. To learn more, please call 888-727-4465.