Last week we talked about how to find that elusive rock bottom all loved-ones of addicts are so often searching for. Today I am going to discuss some steps for those of you who have a loved who has find that magical place and now are wondering what to do next?!?! Unfortunately, one of the main struggles I have in our family support groups that our ministry hosts, and even in writing the Finding Hope book, is getting the idea across that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.
There is no clear-cut, step-by-step approach to handling your loved one’s addiction. Anyone who tells you so, who guarantees “success”, is lying to you or deceiving themselves. Each addict, although they have similar traits and motivations, is vastly different, just like your family is different from other families while still having some universal traits you all share.
While I can’t offer you a line-by-line transcript of the process you should follow, I can give you a template, based on my own personal experience and the education I’ve received. I can also offer you the hope that comes from seeing hundreds of addicts’ lives changed as they’ve followed this template.
Before we go any further, let me encourage you with this: if your loved one has hit rock bottom and is wanting to make a change, that’s huge! The road ahead is incredibly difficult, to be sure, but making it onto that road and being pointed in the direction of sobriety is a major victory.
First Base: Detox
Drugs and alcohol introduce a large level of foreign chemicals into the addict’s physical system, and those chemicals have to be purged before anything else can happen. This is the time period called detox, and it is the worst. I’ll never forget my 10 days in a detox facility, eating horrible food, living in green scrubs, having my vitals checked four times a day, and only seeing the light of day for the occasional smoke break. It was horrendous, and not just for me, the addict—it’ll be hard for you, too. Seeing your loved one go through so much physical pain as the drugs leave their system, can be debilitating. Both of you just want it to stop. But, fortunately, it always eventually passes, and then they’ve done the first difficult part of scoring in baseball: getting on base.
Second Base: Residential Treatment
Once they’ve rid their body of all the toxins that their drugs or booze have put into them, your addicted loved one can head over to second base: residential treatment.
This is a period of time where the addict lives at a treatment center and their entire existence is overseen by a staff of professionals. Here, your loved one will learn an entirely new language, and be given new terminology to help them learn about themselves, about their disease, and what a way forward looks like.
I cannot state this loudly enough: learn that language. This is another thing Chuck Robinson taught me, and it’s is so crucial because that new language is going to be their new lifeline, the thing that keeps them on track, and the mandate by which they live their new, sober life. By learning that language as well—by digging into the incredibly dense new vocabulary they’ll have—you’ll be able to encourage, support and understand them.
They will also begin to learn to love themselves.
So many people turn to addiction because they don’t love themselves, and turning off the addiction isn’t going to change that. Residential treatment provides a means for them to start the lifelong process of accepting who they are, and learning to love that person they see in the mirror.
Choosing the right treatment center is a tough process as well. Treatment is not a one size fits all type of scenario. Different facilities have special focuses, disciplines and therapies of choice. Some work well with mental health components, while others focus primarily on the drug and alcohol abuse. Some use experiential therapy while others use traditional approaches. Some have strict guidelines; others provide a looser environment. Treatment facilities are just like any other business; they will do some things really well and others not so well. So understanding what facility best suits you’re loved-one is a road you need to walk down with someone else. It’s a crucial step in the process and a choice that shouldn’t be made flippantly.
Our organization, Hope is Alive Ministries would love to help you down this road. We work with hundreds of families every year helping them understand the best options for their loved one. We would be glad to visit with you, discuss your situation and present you the best options for your loved-one. In addition, we have a page on our website now that provides a listing of our Trusted Resources. Theses are organizations that we know, trust and believe in.
Third Base: Sober Living
This is a base that a lot of people try to skip, but my experience has taught me that sober living is critical for lifelong sobriety. Once your loved one leaves residential treatment, it is often impossible for them to reintegrate into normal society. Unfortunately, they do not tend to have all of the tools necessary to manage the transition, and a huge statistical majority of them will wind up back in rehab at some point in the near future if they try and skip this base.
What can you do to mitigate that recidivism? Sober living. Don’t tell the addict in your life this, because it will freak them out, but if they’ll commit to spending a year in a sober living home, they’re far more likely to achieve lifelong sobriety. In fact, my recent experience tells me that eighteen months is really the best scenario.
Most of the addicts I encounter are young, so I always put it to them this way: they have probably 60 years left of their lives, give or take. I tell them that if they’ll give one single year to sober living, they’ll have a great chance at having the other 59 years be great ones. If they don’t, they’ll probably have a lot fewer years, and they’ll be miserable for all of them. Hope is Alive provides sober living homes for men and women in Oklahoma City, reach out to us if we can help you with this step! Call: 405-242-3704
Home Plate: Continued Meetings
After a year in a sober living home, most addicts are back on their feet. They’ve learned how to manage their lives, they’ve learned how to hold down a job, how to stay organized, how to maintain healthy relationships, and all the other stuff that normal living entails.
But they aren’t done.
I recommend that they still attend regular meetings. This is the overlooked aspect of maintaining sobriety, but it’s an imperative part of it. I’ve been sober for years now, and I still go to (and run) meetings all the time. I need to be reminded of who I was, so that I never lose sight of who I am now, and who I want to be in the future.
And one more thing: there’s nothing that says YOU (the loved-one)) can’t get involved in recovery, too. In fact, I recommend it! If you’re successful in getting your loved one to get help, it would do you well to get help yourself. Get involved in Al-Anon or Hope is Alive’s Finding Hope classes for family members of addicts. Learn the language. Let it change you. Give back.
Parent’s Perspective: Wendell Lang
I knew so little about addiction when we got involved with Lance’s recovery process. God graced our family by providentially getting us in touch with people who directed us to Rob’s Ranch, a recovery facility that God used in a mighty way. The detox process is horrible for both the family and the client, but the necessary pain is essential for healing. Recovery is paramount to a computer refreshing, the old need to go away to get a clean screen.
Detox is necessary to rid the body of impurities and toxins, because these poisons must be removed before recovery is possible. The Bible uses a word for the detoxing process: purity. The meaning is to be utterly sincere, honestly transparent. Purity means to be clean. The word Jesus used was katharizo, from which we get our word “catharsis.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure…” A better meaning of purity means to be unmixed or undiluted. Pure gold doesn’t have any mixture of other metals. This spirit of undivided loyalty will allow our body to operate as intended.
Lance going to treatment was a time of anxiety, fear, and yes, hope. Hope has become the mantra for our family, and the first shred of hope began to crystalize throughout the treatment process.
This chapter has me thinking about two words: “no shortcuts.” Lance made an attempt at a “short cut” approach to recovery and it simply did not work. While God can use any method in the healing recovery process, I am convinced that long-term accountability is the most effective and will yield the highest results of recovery.
Throughout my years of pastoring, I had always been the one doing the counseling and had never participated in personal counseling. The times of meeting with our counselor were unbelievably revealing and helpful to bridge a huge chasm in our family. It became apparent to me that not everyone views an event or circumstances through the same lenses. Each person brings a unique experience to a conversation.
For us we found that talk, time, and a lot of tears brought about healing and hope.
Treatment comes in many forms today, but I am convinced that a holistic approach to treatment is essential. A good treatment center deals with the head. This enables the client to think the right thoughts.
A good treatment center also deals with the hands. This allows the client to work in a constructive manner in service to others.
And finally, a good treatment center deals with the heart. This allows the client view his or her situations from God’s perspective.
No one treatment center is right for everyone, so ask and research. Finances and faith in the institution are vital in choosing the right option.
Trusted Resources: www.hopeisalive.net/resources/
Finding Hope Support Group Classes: www.FindingHope.Today
Treatment Center Lance Attended: Rob’s Ranch
Lances Books: www.LanceLang.com/books
For more help on parenting an addict or what to do when your loved one is ready for treatment pick up my new book, Finding Hope.