We are pleased to sponsor this upcoming Psychodrama Training in Richmond, August 12, 2022. Gain hands-on experience applying the methods of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy. CE credits available.
It’s mind-boggling to me that families often try to treat the medical disease of addiction at home. If your teenager broke his arm, would you set the bone at the kitchen table? If he had an asthma attack, would you lecture him about getting his act together?
Of course not.
Still, families grapple with addiction at home for two reasons: First, addiction can look an awful lot like bad behavior, especially at the outset. And second, parents feel embarrassed that addiction has found it’s way into their family, so they try solving the problem behind closed doors. There is a lot of shame related to this disease— parents feel as if they have failed.
In my 30 years as an interventionist, I’ve come to understand that addiction is one of the most complicated medical diseases to date. Few addicts recover on their own. And when they do, the hidden components of the disease have often gone untreated. An incomplete treatment leaves the entire family vulnerable to relapse. It can fracture families, which is counterproductive to your loved one finding and remaining in recovery.
Someone you love is showing signs of addiction. You’ve devoured books with titles like “Walking on Eggshells”. You’ve nudged, you’ve argued, and you’ve threatened. You’ve seen counselors and sought the advice of trusted friends. Still, the crazy-making behavior is accelerating like a runaway train and, by now, you’re feeling desperate.
Where do you turn?
Your next step is to seek the guidance of a certified addiction professional, ideally someone with experience in substance abuse intervention. But how do you find a reputable one? Who can you trust? As an addiction interventionist for 30 years, here’s my best advice:
Step One: Call a respected treatment center and ask them to refer you to an independent addiction professional in your area. Ask who they’d recommend for interventions. Who are their best referring case managers, addiction specialists, or interventionists in your city? Three programs I’d suggest calling include Milestones at Onsite in Tennessee, Cirque Lodge in Utah, or Saint Christopher’s in Louisiana. Jot down the names they offer, then call a second treatment center and ask the same questions. After a few phone calls, you’ll start hearing the same names. (In the Richmond, Virginia area, in addition to my intervention services, I recommend Gail Santarelli, LPC at Richmond IOP or Maryann Cox, LCSW. In Charlottesville, VA. I’d suggest Dr. Kevin Doyle).
I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain, but felt like I did in one small important way. In him, I saw a drinking alcoholic with a front-stage vigorous attempt to do it successfully. His was a fantastic life-embracing show, with drinking taking a prominent role in the joie de vivre, and sometimes that made it hard for me to watch.
When he threw back shots, indeed got wasted, I saw a fellow alcoholic living dangerously whereas most viewers, I imagine, saw “a man who knew how to drink, knew how to live.” His state of mind will be called depression, and who can argue with that in the wake of his suicide. But can we please, people, start connecting the dots to alcoholism (also a disease of the mind), at least when it is screamingly evident?
Perhaps I should not presume to think I know, but I can at least invite the conversation where it is uncomfortably and amazingly absent. Did alcoholism (which brings depression or ineffectively “treats” depression) ultimately take down Bourdain?
Alcohol is a drug. “Drugs” and “alcohol” remain separate in conversations about addiction, like a “bad sister” doing outrageous unthinkable things while the “good sister” quietly nurses a prom hangover and shame from a blackout.
By Mary Gray Johnson
Maybe this makes me a bad person, but during the first month that my brother was in treatment I didn’t miss him. In fact, I was glad he was there. I could take a sigh of relief knowing that he was alive and safe – one I’d been holding in for the last five years.
After catching my breath, the reality of his absence set in. I began to miss him, and I started thinking about his return home. This would be great! My brother was sober and healthy! Everything would go back to normal!
Do you see where I’m going with this? When someone gets out of treatment, things can’t just go back to “normal.” And that’s a scary realization for most people – like my Dad, who had literally maintained the same daily routine for the past 25 years.
We realized that if my family kept living our lives like normal, we would be making it significantly harder for Fitzhugh to stay sober.