One of the most difficult challenges for loved ones of addicts is surrendering to the process of recovery. For so long family and friends wait, pray, and hope for their loved one to somehow come out of addictive cycle, but after a period of waiting, realize that their loved one cannot beat their addiction alone.
As a counselor in a 12-step based program, I have observed that families who surrender to the process early on tend to have a better experience and see better results with their loved ones. We believe that genuine surrender happens in the context of a relationship with a Higher Power and paves the way for all the work needed to maintain a sober lifestyle. Although parents and friends may not work through all 12 steps personally, modelling surrender to the process of treatment is one of the first investments families can make.
This investment both encourages their loved one and becomes part of the healing process. We encourage all loved ones of our clients to attend Al Anon, a support group for family and friends of addicts. We also recognize that addiction is not an isolated issue, but rather a family issue. A common fear I see is “if my child does not feel comfortable, then he will not be invested in doing the work.” So often families allow their child to call the shots in treatment, which often enables the addictive behavior. As a counselor, I aim to help others identify and set boundaries to live fulfilling lives. For families, choosing to surrender to the process of recovery, and modeling it, is one of the most effective boundaries they can set for their child in treatment. Families that maintain the attitude of “I’m all in” tend to see better long term results and begin the treatment process by taking the first step to address the family issue of addiction. So often, we hope to see surrender in the addict, but before that process begins, we must model it as one of the greatest acts of love.
When I was young, wrapped in naivety and the fierce but familiar clutches of addiction, I was sent to treatment.
Looking back, the Center to which I was sent was neither cutting edge, nor particularly prize worthy, but the staff were kind, and God knows they meant well. We did some talk therapies, a few chores. An occasional trip to the zoo; I was handled a small diploma made from a color copier in the office, and on my way.
I was drunk a short time later.
I knew not then, mine was an illness which would not yield to friendly conversations, or simple family history dialogue. They saw how it looked, but I knew how it felt. My skin crawled in those places, itching for excitement, something outside of the routine. Each day was met with a great *Sigh*, and, as was expected of me, I soldiered on, only to fall prey to unexpected thinking when I was left unattended.
Again, I’d drink.
Again, they’d try.
More money, more counsel. New facility. Same old results. It was I, after all, time & again, left to my thoughts, and a whiplash mind that generated bad plans rather quickly.
Several facilities later, an odd thing happened: the light, the hope, the promise of recovery dissolved. Like Pavlov’s Dog, I suddenly began to equate the two: Yes, recovery. Where you make your bed at 6:30, and go to breakfast at 7:00. Oh yes, recovery, where group starts at nine, and chores fall thereafter. Yes, recovery, which it’s adherence to dress, and early curfew.
My options than lessened, and part of me gave up.
I’d been stuck in a doorway so long, all I could see was a door, and not the green hills beyond.
My experience, with Chapterhouse is the solid assurance that the extremely skilled practitioners there offer way more than a cot, and a meal, and the well worn basics. They offer a solution, because they live it. By necessity, disciplines are in place, practiced to the measure that most certainly will become life long habits that will yield much.
I am so grateful to be an extended part of such the powerful, powerful recovery family that is Chapter House
No longer am I stuck in the doorway of recovery, lowering my standards, and looking for a handout- blaming my misfortunes of those looking to help. I have stepped past the gate, into the grass beyond. I travel the planet and have found my own interests, passions and an internal blueprint that perhaps I was meant to follow. I live my life in the dedicated service of others, and have poured out more alcohol than I can fathom, to help them make a beginning. Sunlight, at last.