For Families

What to Expect

It is important that family, friends and partners get support for themselves while a loved one is in recovery. They have often been living with a great deal of anger, fear and unhappiness for many years and waiting to be heard and understood. At the same time, the client is experiencing great upheaval and vulnerability. When a loved one enters treatment there is often much relief and hope that things will improve. There is also anxiety about whether the change will be permanent.

Once everyone sees that the recovering person is succeeding with a program, family and friends often feel that they may never see their loved one in such a state of mental clarity again. They may want to immediately express their anger and pain with how truly terrible life was with an active user. However, when these feelings are expressed to the recovering person at this early stage in abstinence, he or she is often so overwhelmed with guilt, disappointment, anger and hurt that it could lead to relapse. It is critical that family members have their own advocate so that they can openly express the intensity of their pain and anger.

Family and friends face difficult choices at this point. While it is so important that their feelings are heard and whatever suffering they have experienced due to their loved one's drinking or use be addressed, they also have an investment in the client's success and may want very much to support the client. Many of the issues within the family will need to be addressed, but early abstinence is not very often an effective time to work through what may have been years of difficulty and dysfunction.

We strongly encourage family members to seek the help of a professional who can not only be a safe place to vent, but a source of guidance through this rocky time. At A Positive Alternative we will help family members find the resources they need. We recommend clinicians who are familiar with addiction but who do not practice a "one size fits all" approach. When families are told that a 12 step model is the only way for them to receive support or for sobriety to be achieved, it can often undermine the client's confidence in their own treatment choice.

Although we are not able to offer an extended family program, we do provide some limited services. With the client's knowledge and permission, we offer family members individual and family sessions while their loved one is in treatment. Sessions are primarily educational, and serve the purpose of explaining how our program works, what families can generally expect when a loved one is in treatment, and some guidance for how to find other resources for themselves. If a family member needs additional support, we encourage them to make an appointment with one of the therapists on our staff who is not seeing the client.

We have many ties to the therapy community and have active working relationships with a number of care providers. We maintain a diverse list of therapists, doctors, psychiatrists and ARNPs who are familiar with addiction and can provide guidance to those who have been affected by someone's use.