No one wants to admit that their loved one is a drug addict or alcoholic. Unfortunately, in our society today, people are becoming chemically dependent on a daily basis. There are a few specific things that you can look for to help you see the problem before it gets to out of control. Any drastic change in behavior may raise a concern, such as lack of interest in school/grades, family, or activities. Here are a few things you can look for specifically.
-Staying out all night, and sleeping all day
-Experiencing euphoria, becoming extremely happy for no reason
-Sickness like the flu, in and out of the bathroom.
-Dishonesty or lies about very simple matters
-Things have gone missing unexplained in your house
-Secretive phone calls, not responding when asked where he/she is going
Once your loved one has gone into inpatient treatment, the question is what to do next. Sober living is often the next recommended step as it provides a safe environment for your loved one to continue to grow in their recovery. However, there are different levels to these types of living situations. Structured sober living is going to look more like a program, meaning, there will be a staff presence at the house who is there guiding the residents through early stages of recovery. The staff will usually provide more direct attention in each ones personal journey, assisting not only with recovery, but helping residents improve their life skills and integrate back into the community. They will set the resident up with a structured, daily schedule that may offer groups regarding mediation, 12 steps, and introducing the residents to a group of people in the recovery community. The alternative to structured sober living is regular sober living. These types of houses are generally owned by someone in long-term recovery and managed by a former resident who has agreed to stay on. There is no specific schedule for the day and the resident is hopefully at a point in his/her recovery where he is working, has a community, and a sponsor. The rules at a sober living house will be similar to a structured sober living house in that he resident is expected to have and meet a sponsor on a weekly basis, obtain employment, and work a certain amount of hours per week. They are to attend a certain amount of AA meetings per week, complete a chore, follow all house rules, and be subjected to random drug testing. It is important for your loved one to communicate with the house owners, staff and/or managers when he/she feels they are ready to move out or transition to a lower level of sober living.
When dealing with drug addicts or alcoholics, there are very few moments you get to make a move for treatment. Because you are dealing with some of the most unwilling people in the world, the desire to seek help can disappear in a second, leaving the next opportunity unknown. However, there a few things you can do to better be prepared for when it comes. One thing you can do is to familiarize yourself with local detox facilities and rehab centers, and have a plan that the entire family is willing to support. This way you are ready and can act immediately when your loved one approaches you for help. Your loved one will need to be physically removed from his/her drug of choice before entering a more intensive long-term treatment, so the first step would be to admit your loved one to a detox. It is better that the addict plays their own part in seeking recovery, so it is important that you are not doing more work then your loved one. They too, should know about detoxes, rehabs, etc.
There are a plethora of “sober” houses through out the New England area, but unfortunately not all of them live up to the standards you should be looking for. The first thing is to make sure that the person who is running or owns the sober house is actually in recovery themselves. This is important because you can be assured that the person running the house is going to encourage and guide the residents in their own recovery. You will want to inquire about the rules of the house and know that the standards of the house are in line. For example, if a house has a rule to progress in the 12 steps, what will they be doing to hold the resident accountable to this? The worst thing you could do is to send your loved one to a sober house where he/she can just sleep in and watch TV all day. You’ll want to get a good idea of who else is living in the house as it is beneficial to choose a sober living house that has a standard of who they take. This means they are not just taking anyone off of the streets or right out of a detox. A good sober house will only accept people who have already completed some type of long term, in-patient treatment, usually of a minimum of 30 days. This will ensure that the other residents at the house have already been clean for a period of time and are pursuing recovery. If you come across a sober house that has constant turn around, people in and out every week, the best thing to do is follow your gut.
There is no specific amount of time in sober living that can guarantee your loved one’s sobriety. That is just the reality of it. However, a thorough stay at a sober house can do a lot for one’s recovery. A good stay at a sober living facility typically looks like anywhere between 3-6 months to a years time. Anything less than that and the individual may be just biding their time with one foot out the door, and may not become fully immersed in their sober living experience. Those who go to sober living for a month or two, do get the experience of it, but they do not get to reap all of the benefits.
This is a question that all parents and loved ones of a drug addicts want to know. When your loved one has started the path of 12 step recovery, you will begin notice little changes in their lives. Now, we are not talking about changes that just have to do with appearance, health, or even that he/she has a job, but real changes in them as a person. One of the main problems the addict suffers from is their selfishness and dishonesty. If your loved one is in recovery, obtaining work, going to meetings, meeting his/her sponsor and it doesn’t sound like a chore to them, this is a good sign that they are actually taking recovery genuinely serious. Another good sign is if they are including you in decisions that he/she needs to make in recovery. For instances, should I take this job, should I leave the sober house, what do you think I should do? You should see a genuine attempt on their behalf to make decisions the family is comfortable with. This at least shows that their selfishness is diminishing and they are consciously aware of how their decisions will affect others. When your loved one is living honestly, is no longer depending upon you and is taking responsibility for their own actions, you can feel assured that your loved one is on the right path.
This can sometimes be difficult to answer due to the dishonest nature of addiction. Often times, even in sobriety, addicts and alcoholics can appear to be doing well on the outside, but have not yet grown on the inside. They may say a lot of the right things to make you believe that they are ready because they are eager to move on. Just because their physical health has improved, they have a job, a girlfriend/boyfriend, a little money in their pocket, etc., does not necessarily mean they are ready to move beyond sober living. A more important gauge of how their doing would be to look at their behaviors and how they are treating other people. Are they honest? Do they seem engaged with family and friends? Do they have a solid recovery network? Have they become more independent financially, emotionally, or with their responsibilities? Or are they still relying on you to make ends meet or demanding your attention? An addict who is genuinely living a 12 step recovery program should be more conscious of other people’s needs and no longer require your help on a regular basis, financially or otherwise. It is also important to determine what their motive is for moving out and whether or not they have a well-thought out plan. Are they moving out based on resentment, bad behavior, or to escape something or somebody? Is the move spontaneous or have they responsibly made a plan that makes sense? You may find it helpful to discuss your loved one’s progress with a house manager or sponsor.
More often than not, people in AA refer to themselves as “recovering alcoholics.” This can sometimes be misleading, as it may give the impression that addicts never get better and that addiction is a life-long struggle. This term gives little hope and implies that addicts will have to live of life in constant fear or relapse. In fact, in the Alcoholics Anonymous text, the word, “recovered” is used several times, referring to a state of mind in which an alcoholic/addict reaches a certain point in their recovery where they no longer obsess over the use of drugs and alcohol. An addict who has achieved a spiritual awakening as a result of practicing the 12 steps can live free and content without the temptation to use.
Addict in the Family Meeting
During an Addict in the Family meeting, families are encouraged to speak freely about their current situation and struggles, while knowing that what is said in the meeting is anonymous and confidential. However, it is not a requirement and you can share as little or as much as you are comfortable with.
Al-Anon meetings can be very helpful for families to find a support in dealing with a loved one’s addiction. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous are meetings of alcoholics helping other alcoholics, Al-Anon is strictly families helping families. At Addict in the Family, we take a unique approach in which recovered addicts facilitate the meeting and use their own personal experience to help educate and support families. It makes sense to get information and help from someone who has experienced addiction first-hand and overcome it. Our meetings are solution based and provide insight into an addicts mind, their behaviors, and what eventually worked in helping them recover.
Addict in the Family is a closed meeting for families and friends of alcoholics only. We encourage addict/alcoholic loved ones to attend meetings to attend 12 step meetings
Addiction is a family disease and even the best of families can find themselves completely submerged in their loved ones addiction. This is often most apparent in the family’s desperate desire to control their loved one’s behaviors, emotions, and recovery. Families are known to become obsessed over their loved one causing them to enable, spy and live in constant fear, often neglecting other family members or their own life responsibilities. Although most family members may never stop worrying, it is possible to separate yourself from the addict and love the addict from a distance. Family members who are well will come to realize that they have little control over their loved one’s addiction and will begin to stop engaging in paranoid, enabling behavior. They will be able to set better and healthier boundaries both for themselves and their loved one.