Toward a Treatment for Substance-Affected Family Members

Addiction is widely recognized to be a family disease. But most treatment and recovery resources seem to go to whoever has been using uncontrollably. Well, let’s change that!

This project arises out of a desire to, as Brene Brown says, walk inside my story and claim it’s [my] power. This story begins with a sudden move, and it includes the introduction of alcohol into the family and my protective adaption to an uncertain and chaotic environment through withdrawal and isolation. This avoidance of all things worked; and, then it didn’t. Over the past few years, enough of the tower crumbled so that not only can I see out, but others are allowed to look in. Now, it is time to mine my story and share both the dirt and the gems with others.

A couple lifetimes ago, so it seems, when I first started my freedom walk and even before the journey became clear, a challenge to define my life’s mission presented itself. As a young man in a library … not so young anymore even though libraries remain a sacred space … there’s a story for another day. My mission statement is to give back to the community that shared so much with me. This project is another way to give back.

A purpose of this project is to support another project: a book for counselors to use in preparation for helping substance-affected families. The mission of this blog is to translate experience and research into a conversation about practical tools for thriving in a substance-use-affected home environment. Holding this conversation means exploring stillness and mindfulness in relationships, as well as talking about other difficult topics. I hope that you enter the conversation where and when you feel comfortable, your experience may even guide what counselors need to know before they leave training.

Just a word about my training and professional experience: I am a licensed professional counselor in NC and TN, as well as a licensed clinical addiction specialist in NC, in my 20th year of practice. I’ve worked with people struggling with addiction across a variety of settings. Outpatient groups, residential detox and crisis stabilization, prison, homeless shelters, peer support groups, and in hospital emergency rooms are all places where I’ve routinely encountered the devastation of substance use. My current work is focused on training counselors to listen to the struggles of substance users and their concerned significant others. The journey is fantastic, both rewarding and frustrating, and enlightening. The strongest lessons are those of quiet and stillness among the noise. After all, you have to get out of the hurricane to dry off. Families coping with addiction are caught up in the chaos and my job, at least partially, is to help them find their way into lasting order.

So, I hope you will join me on this path. Sharing our experience, strength, and hope increases the abundance of recovery for everyone. Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

I hope your day is what you need it to be.

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