Category: Treatment Programs

Rules for Recovery; Rules for Life

In our recent blog, Tips for Entering Treatment the First Time, we mentioned it is important to follow the rules of the treatment center in order to increase chances of success. Addiction and substance abuse disorders are treated in multiple ways, but one of the most prominent methods is behavior modification. While the simple explanation of bad behaviors usually result in negative consequences, clients are taught to think about their actions and what the consequences will be.

Think of a child in a candy store accepting a dare from another child. I bet you can’t sneak out of here with a piece of candy in your pocket. If the child is caught stealing the piece of candy, chances are, he/she will have a negative consequence. If not, the child may continue to steal candy when visiting the store, until caught or until he/she feels guilty about the actions. Now, fast forward to the teen years. While we’d love to believe we don’t have underage kids drinking alcohol that would not be realistic. Maybe it starts with a can or bottle of beer at home; mom and dad won’t notice if this is missing. It could be a gathering with friends and alcohol is available. More often than not, the first experience with alcohol is under the age of 21. If there are never any negative consequences, chances are, the teen will continue to drink.

Now, let’s shift from alcohol to illicit drugs. If the experience is pleasant and there are no negative consequences, why stop? Those who suffer from addictive tendencies will continue to use despite negative consequences.

Facets of substance abuse treatment reward good behaviors and punish negative behaviors. At a treatment facility, this may mean the loss of telephone privileges or exclusion from a fun group outing such as bowling or a trip to the beach. For a more serious offense, law enforcement may be called and the client may be asked to leave the treatment facility, permanently.

As people learn the importance of following, rather than bending or breaking, all rules, regardless how trivial or important, they will better be able to thrive in a society driven by laws and rules. This helps them learn self-control, respect for themselves and others, as well as to be accountable for their own actions. These lessons are vital in the earliest phases of recovery.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

How do you explain your addiction to your children?

Over and over, we say addiction affects the entire family. The statistics of what happens to the rest of the family when a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol are alarming. For example, did you know one of the primary reasons children are removed from parental custody is substance abuse?

Consider this scenario. You are married with a supportive spouse. You have a good job and young children, in elementary or middle school. However, you realize that going out for happy hour with friends/co-workers has become a problem. You continue drinking when you get home, and maybe, in the privacy of your home, you use illicit drugs as well. Many possible circumstances could happen at this point. You may be arrested for DUI, you may be sluggish about going to work, you may not be performing well at work due to the influence of the drugs/alcohol in your system. Finally, you begin to choose drugs/alcohol over your family and professional life. Friends and loved ones may see the writing on the wall and have encouraged you to seek help. But, what do you tell your kids when you’ve decided to enter a residential treatment facility?

Some families will choose to shield their children from this news and offer fictitious reasons why there is an extended absence. For those who feel their children are mature enough to understand the situation, here are some tips on how to present this information honestly.

1 – Keep your explanation simple
2 – Explain that addiction is an illness
3 – Listen to them and answer their questions
4 – Make your new life in recovery part of the family routine.

Here is an example:

At the dinner table, or while comfortable in the living room, explain that there will be some changes coming very soon. Change doesn’t mean bad things, but simply means some things will be different at home. Explain that you, or your spouse, will be away from home for a few weeks to get help with some personal issues. While this is vague, it will allow you the opportunity to say, “You know when mom/dad stops to have a drink after work and comes home late?” That is going to change because it causes other problems in life. Some people are able to drink without a problem, but others cannot. Talk about how some kids are allergic to peanuts and can’t eat candy with nuts or peanut butter. It’s not their fault, it is just how their bodies deal with the nuts. The same is true in this case, only the problem is not nuts/peanut butter. Some people are simply born this way and there is no way of knowing until it causes problems. Depending on their ages, ask them what they already know or think when they hear about addiction and steer them away from the negative stereotypes. Explain that you are getting help now so that some of those bad things don’t happen to you or your family.

Once treatment is completed and you enter a life of recovery, keep your family involved. Explain to them why you go to meetings and how it helps you and why there are certain people you may not see any more.

Finally, as you choose your treatment program, select one that offers family sessions and family visitation. This is not only helpful for your children; it will keep the entire family focused on your recovery.