Karen Franklin of Family Intervention & Recovery Services
Riverbank House recently sat down with Karen. We spoke about the help available to families through addiction intervention.
RBH: Many families don’t know about interventions or about working with a professional interventionist. Why and when would a family want to speak with a professional? And what does that relationship look like going forward?
KF: It is common that those who struggle with addiction are in denial about their situation. Thus, they are often unwilling to seek treatment. As shocking as it may seem, they may not recognize the negative effects their behavior has on themselves and others.
Intervention helps the person make the connection between their use of alcohol and drugs and the problems in their life. The goal of intervention is to present the alcohol or drug user with a structured opportunity to accept help and to make changes before things get even worse.
Our work with the family begins with the Intervention.
We provide case management, after-care planning and family support and consultation for up to one year after the Intervention. We walk along side our families and support them through the first year of recovery.
RBH: Does an intervention ever “fail”? And if it does fail, is the family now more faced with more hurt than before the intervention? Is there a risk to intervention?
KF: In my opinion, there are no failed interventions. Our experience is that most people do accept help and go to treatment the day of the intervention. However, there are those that refuse help on the day of the intervention. The one thing we cannot control is that the addicted person has free will and choice. Frequently, most who refuse end up accepting help usually within a short time if the family holds boundaries and no longer enables the addicted person.
Families Become Stronger
In our experience, families become more united in supporting the addicted individual in making healthy decisions. When this change happens, families no longer support a loved one in making the unhealthy decisions. Families begin to understand how the addiction has taken over their lives. When this understanding occurs, they begin to take their lives back and get their own help. As Al-Anon literature states: “Changed Attitudes can Aid Recovery”
RBH: When you make a recommendation to a family, what determines the fit between a client and a recovery program or rehab?
KF: Family Intervention and Recovery Services does a full assessment with the client and family to determine treatment options. We consider all factors in the case such as age, addiction or mental health history, co-occurring disorders, trauma, prior treatment experience, financial issues. The factors help us determine the best course of treatment for each individual case.
The Importance of Long-term Recovery Support
For young adults, we strongly recommend long term options such as a recovery program like Riverbank House. Those struggling with opioids also need a longer-term option to have enough time to stabilize in their recovery. Those that have had multiple, unsuccessful rehab experiences and chronic relapse issues are those we also highly recommend for a longer-term recovery program.
Men who have struggled with addiction and have not been able to attain success with school or career are also excellent candidates for your program. Also, someone coming out of a primary treatment program would be a great candidate for Riverbank House as an extended care option.
I tell families that a 28-day or 30-day rehab experience does not offer a lasting solution. Unfortunately, the expectation that a short-term stay is effective can set up a cycle of chronic relapse. This cycle often involves visits to countless treatment centers.
Recovery is a journey and it takes time to get better. A primary short-term rehab is just the beginning. They didn’t get sick overnight and they are not going to get better overnight either. They need continued structure and support to succeed.
RBH: Thank you Karen. You've been a terrific friend to Riverbank House and we much appreciate your willingness to share your wisdom with us.
Karen is a native of New England, currently living in Phoenix, AZ. She is a road warrior working with families nationwide in her Intervention Practice.
Karen can be contacted at 602-690-8440 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help for Moms
Addiction isn't about me. There's nothing wrong with my life. I can deal with this myself.
As the mother of a son who struggles with addiction, I had all the "nothing wrong with me" thoughts when someone suggested I go to Al-Anon.
It was scary walking into my first meeting. I felt fear of the unknown, and also fear of knowing. But as a parent, I was suffering, and deep down I knew I needed help.
In the beginning I also felt resentful. Why must I turn my life upside down to get to meetings? Where would I find the time in my day? I wasn’t the one who was sick. My problems were unique and I was different from the others. Plus, my son’s drug wasn’t alcohol. Did I even qualify to belong in Alanon? But I took the advice they gave to newcomers. “Try at least six meetings before deciding whether or not this program is for you.” And I took it to heart when they said, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
In the beginning there was much I ignored from meetings. But I noticed I felt lighter and not so quite alone. People talked openly and honestly about their experiences. I heard stories similar to my struggles. But there was something else, people who smiled and sometimes even laughed as they told their stories. Like many, I went to Al-anon to learn how to fix my son. But that isn’t the lesson Al-Anon is poised to address. Instead Al-Anon teaches me how to find peace and serenity regardless of whether or not my son chooses sobriety.
Re-directing Our Attention
I won’t lie and say serenity comes easily. But as I turned the attention away from my son and toward myself, I began to listen and learn and there were brief reprieves from the running tape of fear and anxiety that ran through my mind. Moments of joy and gratitude slipped in to fill those gaps. I began to learn what addiction looks like and how it behaves. I began to understand that certain things I had thought unique to my son and family were not unique at all but rather simply addictive behaviors.
My son and the disease untangled to become two separate things. I could love my son and hate the disease. I learned that sometimes it’s best to do nothing and in the span of doing nothing, more will be revealed. Caring for myself began to take shape as a priority. Eight years later Al-Anon had saved me a lot of suffering
Al-anon is based on the same 12 steps as AA. As I grappled with applying them to my life, I better understood my son’s struggle. I could lay my experience along his own as he worked the 12 steps in treatment himself. We didn’t need to talk about it, but we were developing a shared language. Step One says, Admitted I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had been unmanageable. I thought that one was easy: I knew I was powerless over his addiction, but wait, my life wasn’t unmanageable! I was holding things together. But as I became more aware, I saw how my controlling behaviors belied acceptance of my powerlessness, and I recognized the specific craziness addiction had brought into my life. Those hours of listening to others tell their own stories helped me understand and accept my own.
We Are Worth It
When we encouraged our son to seek treatment my husband gently said to him, “You are worth it.” We are worth it too. We don’t have to grit our teeth and bare this burden. We may be powerless over alcohol and drugs, but we are not altogether powerless. There are many paths to recovery. Al-anon, Nar-Anon, Yoga of 12Step Recovery, Families Hoping and Coping, Mindfulness practices. My experience suggests they all lead to calming the mind and the inside job of recovery. Our sons are being offered many paths and given the message that it doesn’t matter which one they choose, as long as they choose one. It’s good advice. We have choices too. Getting to treatment is one of them and it’s a gift we can give ourselves.
What's the resistance to harm reduction in recovery circles?
Harm reduction is any effort that's meant to decrease the negative effects of problem habits. Sugar substitutes, condoms, nicotine gum, budgets, and spray tanning are some examples of harm reduction.
But too often people in addiction recovery talk of harm reduction as the enemy of abstinence. In truth, harm reduction just encourages any step in the right direction. Twelve Step practice and adulting (yes, that’s now a word) both thrive on tiny shifts in the right direction. So it seems odd that on the surface many of us in recovery aren’t fans of harm reduction. Yet many of us practice harm reduction in our own lives. We choose decaf over regular, vaping rather than smoking, or helping others rather than giving in to self-pity.
What’s the glitch?
The answer might lie in the story of the plant, the puppy, and the partner. It goes like this: in early recovery, when you feel ready for a romantic relationship, first get a plant and take care of it. If the plant is still alive in a year, get a puppy. If, after a year, the puppy is well-behaved, well-fed, well-cared for, and you haven't given it away, you might be ready for a romantic partner.
The point is that in early recovery our great ideas don't always match up with the hard work and responsibility necessary to turn our best plans into reality. That’s because in early recovery most of us are idealistic and immature. We are sensitive and inconsistent and twisted and volatile and unpredictable. We’re also escape-seeking missiles and desperate romantics. We invented "a better way." We are the piece of crap the world revolves around. The egomaniac with the inferiority complex.
And, ummm…. (what’s a nice way to say this?): our history of active addiction or alcoholism trained us to bring a certain level of color and flexibility to the truth.
We're not against harm reduction.
The abstinence-based recovery community is not anti-harm reduction. It’s anti-“giving a powerful, dangerous, addictive, worth-a-lot-on-the-street drug that promises to make you feel better” to a guy in the earliest stages of recovery.
The mind in early recovery is too screwed up to follow the directions written on a prescription. The mind will clear, but it takes time.
So the general wisdom in certain recovery circles goes: if you can’t keep a plant alive for six months you probably can’t manage a Suboxone prescription responsibly. And if you can keep a plant alive for six months you’re probably past the point that you need Suboxone.
People in recovery can be stubborn, and we love to stand on principle. When it comes to harm reduction and Suboxone use, most of us stand on the principle of safety, even if we haven't taken the time to frame it that way.
|The Addict's Mom is sharing a news series of articles to help guide us through what we might expect when we enter addiction treatment. The information is so pertinent and non-threatening, we're proud to share excerpts of it here on Riverbank House.
TAM's Treatment Center Series: The Admissions Process
The thought of going to rehab or sending a loved one there can be a frightening experience. After making the decision to go to rehab and selecting a treatment center, knowing what to expect can help patients and their families get through the admissions process feeling calm and confident.
The pre-admissions assessment ensures a good match between the prospective patient and the treatment provider. Background information regarding the patient’s condition allows the clinical team to determine what level of care will be required and which program would be the most appropriate. The admissions team may give an estimated length of stay and assist with obtaining pre-authorization from the insurance company if necessary.
Patients who have been drinking alcohol or taking benzodiazepines will likely require medical detoxification to prevent life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Patients with opioid addiction also benefit from medication-assisted detox, which eases discomfort and improves treatment compliance.
During the admissions process, the intake team welcomes the patient and his or her family. The team explains pertinent policies and procedures and answers questions. Patients then sign the treatment consent and other forms. In fact, the admissions process involves quite a bit of paperwork. Patients also sign a form naming the family members or outside parties with whom the treatment team may speak about the patient’s care. The intake team also helps with any remaining insurance paperwork and associated documents.
Patients then say goodbye to their loved ones and begin their healing journey. Belongings are checked to make sure no alcohol or drugs are brought into the treatment center. A staff member shows the patient around the facility and residence, and gives him or her a chance to unpack and settle in. Those requiring detoxification receive medication to ease their withdrawal symptoms and help them sleep. Otherwise, the patient is introduced to everyone and joins the other patients for meals, groups and therapy sessions.
Treatment usually begins right away or after about three to five days of detox. Medications are often prescribed to ease mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. Clinicians provide individual, group and family psychotherapy and most centers include education and group process sessions. Types of experiential therapy vary by institution. The care team emphasizes sleep, nutrition and exercise throughout the treatment process.
Private rooms are uncommon at most treatment centers, so most patients have one or more roommates. Neatness, respect and courtesy go a long way toward avoiding conflict. Roommates offer an additional level of safety and can provide mutual peer support. Sometimes friendships form that last well beyond treatment.
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Long-term residential drug rehab offers much advantage over a 28 day drug rehab program because long term drug treatment not only allows the brain to heal from the damage of drugs, it offers a safe environment with positive reinforcement of recovery tools. But long term rehab can also provide opportunity for professional training and career building.
The Boston Globe recently reported that “recovery coaching” is a “profession poised to take off nationwide amid the pressing need for more effective substance abuse treatment.” Due to the current opioid epidemic, for the first time in our nation’s history, a struggle with addiction has become an actual a job requirement within the healthcare industry. Recovery coaches at Mass General Hospital earn $50,000 to $60,000 annually.
Men living in recovery neighborhoods – rather than in acute care institutional settings or short term 28 day drug rehab – have the opportunity to attend Recovery Coach Academies or training sessions, earning certificates and building a foundation for further training that can lead to productive careers.
Sometimes called a “peer recovery coach,” “peer engagement specialist,” “personal recovery coach,” or “peer specialist,” people in recovery from addiction who receive such training or certification are embedded and supervised in Emergency Departments across the country. Kaiser Health News explains that when a patient is admitted for overdose or complications due to active addiction, recovery coaches establish a rapport with the patient, built on trust and identification. Peer coaches help patients negotiate treatment options and then stay in touch after discharge, offering encouragement and support free of stigma or judgment.
In New York State, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services considers the work of a peer recovery specialist “crucial to a person’s start on the path to recovery” and in preventing “relapse and a potential overdose recurrence.”
At the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, peer specialists
can model for patients -- and for doctors and nurses -- what recovery looks like on a daily basis. They can talk about how hard it can be to put down the bottle or the pipe, but they can also talking about how freeing it is to live a sober life.
In Western Massachusetts, recovery coaches are encouraged to be creative, according to Justin Mehl of Behavioral Health Network.
Recovery coaches are free to explore lots of different options that have been found to be helpful. That includes traditional services like AA and NA, but also they can encourage exercise, take a look at spiritual paths, and really out of the box thinking.
In New Hampshire, men living in one particular recovery neighborhood and engaged in long-term addiction care can earn their recovery coach certificates as a first credential towards becoming a Certified Recovery Support Worker, credentialed by the New Hampshire Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals. A CRSW license in New Hampshire requires 46 hours of specific training and 500 hours of paid or volunteer work experience involving direct service to clients – hours that can be accumulated by helping others in conjunction with a candidate’s own time in long-term recovery care.
Long-term residential addiction recovery care is an investment on so many levels. It can offer men safety, community, time to heal, skills building, and an introduction to an exciting new career in the field of addiction services.
Republished with permission from www.whenweloveanaddict.com. Copyright 2016