When we think about addiction, it is easy to focus just on the person with the chemical dependency and to miss the larger impact of addiction on the entire family. Having a loved one in active addiction can be traumatic. As the person with the addiction’s personality and behavior changes, family members’ emotional patterns and behaviors change as well. At Right Side Up, we want to make sure that the family members of our clients also have the opportunity to address their needs as well.
Through our Right Side Up Family Program, we allow family members to have the space to process their own feelings, learn about the family disease of addiction, and to start the healing process for themselves. If they are interested, they can participate in their own program of grief and healing that complements but is entirely separate from their loved one’s treatment as an RSU client.
Addressing the needs of the entire family helps to break the cycle of addiction and underlying patterns that frequently develop in family relationships when substance abuse is involved. Like our other programming, all family services at Right Side Up are covered by state funds. There are no additional cost to the family members who use our Family Program services.
Here are some of the components of the Right Side Up Family Program.
This three-hour family workshop is offered at MARR’s administration building on the second Saturday of each month. In it, the counseling staff works with family members to teach them the basics of family recovery. Family members learn about the underlying effects of substance abuse and also how substances have altered their loved one’s brain chemistry, thinking, and behavior. The counseling staff also teaches family members about setting boundaries, how to recognize codependent patterns, and stopping the enabling process. Before clients are permitted to visit family members outside of the RSU facility, a family member must complete this seminar as a preparation for their visit. Completing this session is also a prerequisite for participating in any of the other RSU family services listed below.
9-Week Online Webinar
This free online course is an expansion on the one-day seminar. Over the course of nine weeks, family members take a more in-depth look at the underlying patterns of how addiction has impacted the entire family. Participants also discuss the details of how to begin breaking unhealthy patterns in family relationships to replace them with healthier ones. This course provides a detailed look at the “family disease” and what “family recovery” can look like. Participants do this course with other families who are also going through the same process. This allows for a very encouraging and supportive process, in which participants can share struggles, ask questions, and also share experience, strength, and hope with one another.
Weekly In-Person Process Groups
Two weekly process groups are also available to the RSU family members who want to find relief and take the next step in their own recovery. Rather than educational, this group focuses more on exploring, discussing, and managing the emotions that come up for family members as they look at the family patterns that are connected to their loved one’s substance abuse. Group members can take a close look at family conflicts and communication issues as they are happening and provide support for one another. This also provides a forum for family members to celebrate the progress in their own recovery. Families participating in the group get to learn from one another as they support each other in learning how to take better care of themselves, set boundaries, and break unhealthy patterns. This peer support from other families is foundational for the daily practice required to create new healthier communication patterns in families.
Family Workbook and Group
We also offer a complimentary copy of MARR’s Addressing Addiction in the Home workbook to any RSU family member who is interested in working through it. This workbook systematically covers how family members of people with addictions are affected by their loved one’s disease, and how the family members can heal. Chapters included in this workbook are: 1. The Disease of Addiction; 2. The Family Disease; 3. Enabling, Rescuing, Controlling; and 4. Boundaries. A Right Side Up Counselor leads a group that works through the material in this book over the course of several sessions. The group provides the space for participants to discuss what they are learning and the connections they have made to their own life. This workbook group provides a great forum for family members to ask deeper questions about the material covered in the one-day seminar.
Individual and Family Counseling
In addition to the groups and classes that RSU clients participate in, each woman in treatment receives an individual counselor. As mentioned above, having a family member in active addiction can be traumatic. Family members watching a loved one struggle with an addiction deal with strong feelings of grief, anger, disappointment, loss, and sadness, just to name a few. Many of these feelings have not been attended to because of the constant chaos of trying to manage the emotions and behavior of their loved one with the addiction. We believe it is just as important for family members to have a counselor available to them as well if they are interested in seeing one. Being able to discuss these feelings with a professional counselor can provide immense healing and relief and better prepare the family to interact with the client when she completes treatment. Couples or multiple members of the family can also see a counselor together, allowing them to talk through the strain that the addiction has put on marriages and other family relationships.