Facts for the family

Posted: December 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Facts for the family
Addiction – whether to drugs or alcohol – changes cells in the brain. Because the brain controls everything a person thinks, feels, says and does, it is these changed brain cells and the nature of the resulting changed brain functioning that changes a person’s behaviors. It is these changes that cause an alcoholic/addict to lie, cheat, steal and break promises – especially to the ones s/he loves the most.
As the definition of addiction states, relapse is part of the disease. Understanding that relapse is part of the recovery process can help a family member realize that relapse does not mean that treatment has failed nor that a loved one is not committed to recovery. It means treatment may need to be changed or altered.

Important to relapse prevention is treating any underlining co-occurring mental illness such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or bi-polar disorder. This is also known as “comorbidity,” “co-occurring disorders” or “dual diagnosis” It is now understood that six out of ten people with substance use disorders also have another form of mental illness. As such, both must be treated simultaneously in order to avoid one triggering the other during treatment and/or recovery.

Shaming and blaming the addict doesn’t work. The 12-step model as I experienced it often involved much shame and blame. Evidence-based research now confirms shaming and blaming the addict often makes the disorder worse. I know it did for me. Feeling beaten down is often a reason people relapse.

No one should get kicked out of treatment for relapsing. Relapse rates for other illnesses and disorders like diabetes, hypertension, are in the same ballpark as addiction. When a diabetic has a serious bout of high blood sugars – they aren’t kicked out of treatment. And don’t get me started about the role “choice” plays. Withholding treatment because someone “chose” to drink is like telling the overweight diabetic to just stop eating crap.

  1. Thank you for your support


    • So sorry for your loss. Life teaches us terrible lessons at times that destroy our confidence. Living through these tough times steingthens us…

      There’s no way around grief and loss: you can dodge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and, hopefully, come out the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left.” Johnny Cash


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