Sept. 21, 2016. Bill will be a keynote speaker on the topic: “Recovery Skills for Families: Tools for Managing the Stress of Addiction” at the University of Northern Texas Recovery Conference being held in Denton, TX. The Recovery Conference is a national 2-day event that brings together behavioral health professionals, educators, researchers, students and industry leaders. For more information go to: https://recoveryresearch.unt.edu/content/recovery-conference
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.
You see, we had become professionals at helping Fitzhugh’s disease thrive. Our lives revolved around it. Mom kept him from flunking out of school, Dad paid his bills, and I covered for him whenever trouble arose. We kept him from suffering any of the consequences of his alcohol and drug abuse.
I’ll go ahead and sound like a broken record – addiction is a family disease. Everyone in the family is affected, not just the addict.
Before Fitzhugh came home we had to take a hard look at ourselves – our habits, our family dynamics, and the trauma that we had been through. We had to change. With the guidance and support of Bill Maher and the support we found in Al-Anon, we found a new normal.
It wasn’t easy, or fun necessarily. But we decided that if keeping old habits meant hurting Fitzhugh’s recovery, that wasn’t going to work for us. To our pleasant surprise, the new normal has been hugely rewarding.
Mom found a new troublemaker to keep tabs on in our new lab puppy – allowing some breathing room for both she and my brother. Dad started meditating and going to Al-Anon regularly, making him a bit more flexible in his daily routine. And I’ve reaped the huge reward of helping many friends whose family members have gone through the same thing as mine.
Through these changes to better ourselves, we’ve created a stronger support network for one another. And we’re doing all that we can to support my brother in his health and recovery.
If your loved one recently went to treatment, call Bill so that you can learn to support them in recovery, rather than making sobriety harder. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (804) 677-7728.
The morning after my last exam of sophomore year of college, I woke up to a phone call from my mom saying that my brother was in a drug-induced coma and the doctors didn’t know if he would wake up. She didn’t assure me that everything “would be okay.” My normally unshaken mother couldn’t fix this.
My brother is one year younger than me, and at the time we were both attending colleges in Virginia about an hour from each other. He drank a lot. He smoked a lot of pot. And he also took a lot of anxiety medication, as far as I was aware. In retrospect, his incessant substance use clearly showed signs of addiction and/or alcoholism. Since early adolescence he had caused my family huge amount of pain and embarrassment. I knew that his habits weren’t healthy, but I justified it because he was in college. I thought that one day he’d outgrow it. Little did I know, he didn’t know how to stop using.
The one-hour drive to the hospital, knowing that my baby brother might be dead was the worst hour of my life. I was physically sickened because I knew that I could have done something to avoid it.
Five minutes before I arrived at the hospital, my brother woke up. Fast-forward to a year and a half later, he is thriving in recovery, committed to the 12-step program, starting college again. And my family has found a peace that we never knew in the chaos of addiction. It sounds wrong to sum up such a life changing transformation in a few sentences, but the reason I do so is because there’s a common denominator of our multi-faceted progress as a family. Our success wouldn’t have been possible without interventionist and addiction counselor Bill Maher, CIP, CADC, BRI II, ACI.
He has offered gentle guidance from helping us select a rehabilitation center to facilitating our own recovery and educating us on how best we can support my brother in his sobriety. The only thing we regret about our journey is not involving Bill sooner. I wish I had known there was such a resource available – someone who could facilitate a family intervention that would have possibly prevented that unforgettably traumatic, life-changing hospital visit.
Bill Maher, CIP, CADC, BRI II, ACI is a member of the Action Intervention Training team, which includes Jean Campbell, LCSW, T.E.P., CET III, and Jim Tracy, DDS, MA, CADC II, LAADC, CET II, CIP
Their next training is in West Palm Beach, Florida hosted by the Hanley Center of Origins Behavioral HealthCare, February 25th – 27th, 2015. Register at actioninterventiontraining.com
If you’re worried about a loved one, call Bill. Remember – college isn’t an excuse for unhealthy drinking. If you know a college student that’s standing out from their peers in terms of drinking or partying, it’s not a warning sign, it’s 911. Bill can be reached at
Interventionctr.com or (804) 677 7728