Remember the siblings of the addict

I got a note today from a client who’s son is unfortunately now on his own journey doing the addiction dance. He’s actually too young to be labeled an addict yet, or right now in his journey in my opinion. However, early intervention is an important step. The family is being referred to a very reputable program; I mean, the son and his parents.

He has 2 siblings, one older and one younger who are not going to be included in the program.  They are all teens in middle and high school, and I think that this is a pretty big flaw in most adolescent treatment programs. Uhmmm,wait, that is a pretty big flaw in most drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Family programs, at least the ones I know about, and I’ve been in the business almost 25 years, focus on education about addiction and continue to put the focus on the addict and how everyone dances around the addict. Oh , they are told to go to Al-Anon or Nar-anon and take care of themselves ,but most families need more than self-help to learn to do this. The resources are limited for the adult members of the family and even sparser for the child members. Good intentions ,but not so great in practice.

Family and friends may not understand exactly what the addict is going through, but they are an integral part of the recovery process. Addicts do need a sober support network, but they also need to be a functioning part of their family, if they still have one. Yes, there are folks to do not have a family, and create a family in self-help and that’s really important.  This message isn’t for them, it’s for the families and friends who are still connected with and addict and want to be supportive and have the person back in their lives and a healthy and functioning way.

I am putting the finishing touches on just such a program.

What would YOU want to see included in a program to help your family, especially the siblings?

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Great excuse

Maybe not. I always end up reading a few stories when I go to download the LA Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. Today I was gobsmacked. I can’t think of another word to describe the story about Charlie Sheen and morals.

Basically, the story says that there was a time when stars would be dropped by the studios if they did not abide by morals clauses, that in the day, included out of control drug use. OK, I can understand the need for balance between the studios owning a person, and good judgement.  Alcoholism and drug addiction are now classified as diseases, but there is treatment. Although there are many ways to get there, the treatment, the cure is abstinence. And that starts with mindset. Oh, and consequences.

Many recovering, abstinent and sober folks might admit that if there no consequences, they might pick up their drug of choice again. Consequences is a whole other post, an article, an e-book even.  Maybe I don’t know the whole story with Charlie Sheen, but I’ve been working with addicts and alcoholics for over 25 years, so I have an idea of the patterns and excuses.  I just heard (read) a new one: he says he was sober 5 years and bored out of his mind. He’s a partying kind of guy (paraphrasing here), so sobriety isn’t authentic.

After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I busted out laughing. I guess the public displays of the legal consequences of his drinking and drugging are authentic. Hmmm, might just be me, but I don’t think I’d want to admit that kind of spectacular behavior is my authentic self.  Just saying.

and returning to the scene of the crime several weeks later……

So it got even more spectacular, as I, and I’m guessing many of you, watched the Charlie Sheen train hurdling out of control. Really, it was like passing a bad accident: I didn’t want to look, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Then I saw a wonderful and compassionate commentary about the whole thing.  I wish I could remember the bloggers name, I’d share it in a minute. He even posted a clip from Craig Ferguson’s show about not getting on the bandwagon with Charlie Sheen jokes. The blogger also reminded readers that Charlie has a family that is suffering.  And I’m paraphrasing, but he asked readers to think how much it would mean to them to have helping, compassionate hands reaching out to them if they were in trouble.  Kind of like holding the healing space when the addict or mentally ill person is ready to accept it.

May compassion and healing guide you to be strong when you need to be and loving always.

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