Healing The Family by Enabling Recovery

Imagine waking suddenly on the deck of a ship in the middle of a storm. You’re far out to sea, there isn’t any land as far as you can see. You’re not alone on this ship—your whole family is there with you—but how did you get here? The last thing you can remember is being safely on land, but it feels like that was a very long time ago. The ship rocks and rolls on the stormy waters and you and your family are tossed about. Everyone is frightened and confused, some are angry too. Sails flap and ropes flail, the steering wheel spins wildly without guidance, your ship is hopelessly adrift and is being circled by a school of sharks. What do you do?

This is just a story, but it’s also a metaphor for family life when a loved one is struggling with addiction. The entire family feels the chaos and fear of this unpredictable disease, and each tries to manage that pain in their own way. Some family members will try to take control of the situation, others will try to make light of it, and others may even try to escape it by any means necessary.

Save the addict, save the family?

Consider this: if you’ve ever tried to save the alcoholic or addict from themselves you’ve taken responsibility for their harmful behaviors, and you’ve prevented your loved one from fully feeling the consequences of their actions. This is called “enabling”. Many family members of a person struggling with addiction I talk to think they’re helping, but often your help actually support the addiction.

When we’re in a cycle of chaos with an addict we care about, we let ourselves believe that saving him or she from the crisis will be an eye-opening experience that drives change. You hope that, by taking action and being in control, you’ll cause your loved one to experience a moment of clarity or a tipping point when he or she sees the error of their ways and finally makes a change.

Every family I have worked with has the same experience: you help, often at great cost to yourself and the rest of your family, only to find your loved one returning to the same behaviors that created the crisis.

It’s flawed thinking to believe you are capable of saving someone from themselves. Even when you rescue your loved one from a particular consequence, you can’t cure them of the disease of addiction. No matter how helpful you are in that moment, your loved one’s use of drugs and alcohol, and all the chaos that comes with it will continue despite your best efforts.

Trying to save the alcoholic is believing that you can single-handedly steer a ship out of a perilous storm. In truth, you’ll exhaust yourself, you’ll disappoint the family you convinced to rely on you, and you’ll still be lost at sea.

Save the family, save the addict

When families join me to begin their healing process through Structured Family Recovery ™, there’s a lot of confusion about whose responsibility it is to end the chaos. Our work together takes the focus off the individual addict or the chief enabler and puts it on the family.

We look at the family’s role in the chaos, and the family’s role in recovery.

Trying to right a ship single-handedly is an impossible task. But when everyone is pulling together, when everyone takes on a role that supports the who group while also looking out for themselves, recovery is possible.

Structured Family Recovery™ puts emphasis on our work together; individual family members work as a team toward a shared goal. In doing this, you will learn to communicate honestly, you’ll learn compassion, respect and you’ll also learn about self-care. As a group, your family can make decisions together about intervention, treatment, and the best ways to support each other.

My goal is to help you change your behavior as a group and to enable recovery through action. I’ll coach you through tasks like attending one meeting per week, or make one phone call per week to a sponsor, along with practicing new behaviors.

When each of you practices your own set of recovery behaviors, the health and well-being of the whole family improves. The work we’ll do together will create positive changes that will foster wellness and recovery. Together we’ll develop a powerful and supportive program that will help you enable  recovery and make it impossible for addiction to thrive unchecked.

Recovery is possible

Using Structured Family Recovery, I’ll show you how to “walk the walk”. Forget what you know about traditional therapy, we won’t focus on talking about how you feel or whose fault it might be. We’ll learn about actions you can take, habits you can form, things you can do to help yourself and your whole family. I’ll teach you how to stop enabling the disease of addiction.

It doesn’t matter what phase of recovery your family is in—if you are looking for treatment, your loved one is in treatment, or he or she has completed treatment. Structured Family Recovery works! And because I’m on the family’s team, I can also help your loved one find the appropriate treatment options as needed.

When crises or hardships pop up, family members have behaviors in place that keep them safe, healthy and sane. Instead of focusing on the problem the focus on the solution—reaching out to friends or a sponsor from a Twelve Step fellowship, and relying on other family members for support.

We learn that righting the ship and steering it toward your home port is a team effort. Everyone pulling together, doing what needs to be done, and supporting each other’s healing and growth brings the chaos under control. Recovery doesn’t happen all at once: it happens little by little, day by day.

Families that use Structured Family Recovery™ find they have the tools to cope with crisis and chaos without being drawn into it, and to enjoy the simple pleasures and in beauty in life.

What is Structured Family Recovery?

An important part of recovery is joining a Twelve Step fellowship like Families Anonymous, Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. These fellowships teach members to focus on the steps they can take to heal themselves. The also help you see that you are not alone. Structured Family Recovery™ takes these principles to the next level by bringing your family together in a cohesive team. We will work together and in support of the entire family’s recovery.

Coming together as a family and modeling recovery creates an ideal environment to heal. I will take your family through a series of exercises to help map out goals for recovery. You will learn how to deal with crises as they arise. The entire family will have open and honest communication.

I have helped thousands of families find long-term recovery. As a certified Structured Family Recovery counselor, I can help guide your family through this dynamic process. I’ll be able to support your family and helping you find solutions. I can help with coaching, interventions or as your guide through Structured Family Recovery™.

To learn more about how Structured Family Recovery can support you and your loved one, contact me Michael Herbert at 561-221-7677.