Q) What does a person’s life look like after several months in a sober house? Where do they go to start living independently?
A) In my personal experience, there is no one answer. Some grow. Some stagnate. Some relapse. But they are getting something out of it, especially if they want it. Time takes time and it’s different for everyone.
Beyond sober living, most go home or get an apartment with other sober people. The hope is they continue to stay sober in the less structured environment.
Q) What can family say or not to say to help the loved one with addiction issues?
A) In my personal experience, I’ve found that the family can be a help or a hindrance. We can trigger things. It’s best to talk about yourself rather than them. While they are getting sober, you should work on yourself. Lose the anger, lose the guilt, learn about addiction and recovery, then get vulnerable and share your experiences rather than ask them a ton of questions.
Q) My adult son with frequent relapse history has moved closer to hometown. He does not share much about his recovery process with me.
A) In my personal experience, that’s ok. This is his journey. Avoid becoming his therapist, his banker, his attorney, his sponsor, etc. Be mom. Be dad. Love him with patience but be consistent that you support recovery only – more in deeds than in words.
Q) How does a family recover when the person struggling with addiction is not in recovery?
A) In my personal experience, you focus on your own issues. Are you kind, but firm? Are you enabling? Are you focused on self-care and sharing time with other family members?
Q) What were the turning points for each of you in your own recovery, where you had an “epiphany”?
A) In my personal experience, my daughter was in rehab, my son was in rehab, my other son was out of control. I believed if I didn’t get sober and change the trajectory of our family, one of us would likely die. I was fifty. My father had gotten sober at age 60. I knew this was a family disease and felt I could help change it. I was not worried about appearances – I just didn’t want anyone to die and decided to do whatever it took, starting with getting myself sober.
Q) After years of recovery, how do you deal with communication about the past?
A) Well, in my personal experience, humility should be a goal of treatment – accepting that you have a disease, not a moral failing, and get through the shame you might be feeling. Yesterday is history. Let it go.
Q) Please talk about encouraging recovery in extended families. My brother’s substance use is hurting his daughter and grandchildren.
A) In my personal experience, that’s a hard subject. You’re now a third party and can be seen as butting in or interfering thereby putting your relationship at risk. You have to be careful. I would get professional help.
Q) How do you learn to balance when your help is not helping, but possibly hurting in the healing process for your child?
A) In my personal experience, this takes time and sharing with others who have been in similar situations is very helpful (parent groups, group therapy) or with a sponsor/therapist familiar with addiction. Some book can be helpful provided they explain their suggestions (e.g., tough love isn’t always helpful).
Q) How do you begin to re-build trust?
A) In my personal experience, time and experience are the only tools available to rebuild trust.
Q) How do I not feel like a failure and how do I reach out in love when they don’t want to be around you. Thanks
A) In my personal experience, giving love is never a failure. Be kind, considerate, non-judgmental, and loving, but resolute to only support recovery. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but don’t enable.
Q) How do you help a family member who doesn’t want help?
A) In my personal experience, the answer would take up an entire session. Your particular situation, the severity of their sickness, your relationship, their finances and ability to fend for themselves, all come into play.
Q) How do you have an honest discussion with a loved one about their addiction, especially if they’re functioning in an alternate reality?
A) In my personal experience, you can’t have an honest discussion when someone is in active addiction. When they get sober, they may still be irrational. But you can point out that they have lost things (including relationships), gotten into trouble, etc. as a result of their use. Maybe it’s time to stop.
Q) How to heal wounds and get past anger and restore trust?
A) In my personal experience, this takes time, forgiveness, compassion. It’s not easy and a slip of the tongue can set it back
Q) Is it okay not to tell everyone about our child’s situation? Is it more traumatic that we keep it inside?
A) In my personal experience, it’s ok for some and totally taboo for others. Their story is theirs. Don’t announce it wantonly. But your story is yours, and you are permitted to share it as you see fit. Just be discrete.
Q) What works at that key few days when you are trying to get the person to go to treatment?
A) In my personal experience, be ready to go as soon as they say yes.