Celebrating the Holidays with Recovering Family Members and Friends
Peter Gaumond, Chief, ONDCP Recovery Branch
This time each year can be stressful for anyone, but the holidays present a special challenge for people recovering from a substance use disorder. Those in long-term recovery typically are adept at navigating the minefield of temptation at holiday social gatherings. But many of those in their first year of recovery, their friends, and family members wonder how best to celebrate the holidays safely, comfortably, and joyously.
If your festivities will include someone with a year or more in recovery, you may simply want to ask if there is anything you can do to make the holiday better for them. They may want to bring a friend who’s also in recovery. They may have beverage preferences or want the flexibility to step out for a short while, either to attend a mutual aid meeting (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or SMART Recovery), make a call, or Continue reading
In Epidemics, Hippocrates said, “Make a habit of two things–to help, or at least to do no harm.” How can we apply that idea to helping family and friends with addictions?
When we care about individuals who are trying to overcome addictions, we often face dilemmas in how best to help them. For instance, if I help someone by providing money for some critical need, am I supporting recovery by preventing some degree of “disaster”? Or am I just shielding the person from negative consequences that might motivate lasting behavior change? The latter, of course, is AKA the E word: Enabling. This article will identify some things to consider when you face that kind of decision.
What is support? I suggest that support, at its root, consists of two things: paying attention and active helping. I could pay attention to a friend who wants to quit smoking by listening to her talk about her cravings to smoke and how she copes with these cravings. I could actively help her by informing her of new tobacco cessation products (if she was unfamiliar with them). I could take her to a SMART Recovery® meeting (especially if she felt awkward going alone), or spend a non-smoking evening with her (when her other options were to be alone or be with smokers).
Alternatives for Family & Friends
-Roxanne A., SMART Recovery® Facilitator
Chances are you were never taught how to manage a relationship with someone who is struggling with a substance abuse problem. You may find that without the necessary skills, your role as a family member or friend of someone with addiction becomes increasingly stressful as the addiction progresses.
Ignoring the problem or attempting to change it with harsh confrontation often makes the emotional, financial and physiological problems that accompany the substance abuse even worse.
CRAFT: An approach that gets people into treatment
There is an alternate, non-confrontational, scientifically-validated approach to managing the problem. This approach is outlined in the books Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening and Beyond Addiction, How Science & Kindness Help People Change. Using Community Reinforcement And Family Training (CRAFT) these books teach family members and friends how to improve their own lives while at the same time providing skills for improving their relationship with their loved one. In repeated clinical trials, CRAFT’s approach proved twice as likely Continue reading
How to help your potential support system really be helpful
~Josh King, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change
Many people start using substances (often as teens) as a way to engage socially. The reality is that almost all substances with abuse potential initially have a “social lubrication” effect (i.e., they are dis-inhibiting, relaxing, anxiety-reducing, buffers to self-criticism, enhancers of pleasure, etc). The problem? Further down the road (and sometimes right out of the gates), use patterns become much more solitary, withdrawn and isolated. Many have suffered through conflicts with family and friends and, by the time they seek treatment, feel disconnected from potential supporters of change. In addition, to break the destructive patterns that are in place when they seek treatment, they have to distance themselves from current friends who engage in the same behavior (party pals etc). The reality of “loss”…that is the loss of the relationship with the substance and with the people around it…and the awareness of distance from potentially supportive family and friends makes the early stages of change very hard to tolerate at times.
Research has shown time and again that having a robust support network can significantly reduce the odds of relapse Continue reading
“How Science and Kindness Help People Change”
with Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., Center for Motivation and Change
“[We want to] change the conversation, from the language of stigma to the language of growth; from defects to strengths, from shame to pride and an open heart; from punishment and confrontation to an invitation to truly change. And to change that conversation, we rely on science and kindness.”
May 17, 2014 4:00pm ET :
Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., joins SMART Recovery to present:
Beyond Addiction, How Science and Kindness Help People Change:
- The Center for Motivation and Change’s (CMC) approach to helping families, including CRAFT;
- CMC’s best new tools for families wishing to support a loved one’s recovery;
- Beyond Addiction, by Jeffrey Foote, Ph.D., Carrie Wilkens, Ph.D., Nicole Kosanke, Ph.D., and Stephanie Higgs;
- The 20-Minute Guide – For Parents and Partners
The event will be held in our online Go-to-Training Room. There is no cost to attend the event but advanced registration is required.
Power of Positive Reinforcement
Help for Families
About the speaker: Dr. Foote is a nationally recognized clinical research scientist who has received extensive federal grant funding for his work on motivational treatment approaches. Dr. Foote has worked in the addiction treatment field as a clinician and researcher since the late 1980s, and has developed a unique motivational treatment approach that incorporates principles of group treatment as well as research-based principles of human behavior change.
In 2004, Dr. Foote opened the Center for Motivation and Change with his partner, Dr. Carrie Wilkens. CMC’s mission is to provide evidence-based treatments to help people change their substance use and compulsive behaviors while providing a warm and therapeutic atmosphere. CMC is built on the belief and optimism that people can change.
Previously, Dr. Foote was the Deputy Director of the Division of Alcohol Treatment and Research at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in NYC, as well as a Senior Research Associate at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) in NYC. Dr. Foote also served as Chief of the Smithers Addiction Treatment and Research Center as well as Director of Evaluation and Research between 1994 and 2001. Dr. Foote was also team Psychologist for the New York Mets. Continue reading
A note on “enabling” vs. positive reinforcement
~Jeffrey Foote, PsyD, Center for Motivation and Change
“Caring about and staying connected in a helping way with someone dealing
with substances is not only helpful, it’s one of the most powerful motivators for change.”
If you are a partner, parent, or child of someone struggling with substance problems, and you live in America, you’ve probably heard this word “enabling” (possibly many, many times). And you’ve probably heard this described as central to your interactions in helping your loved one. Mostly, you have heard “DON’T DO IT”!, and if you are like most concerned family members, you feel vaguely guilty for doing something you’re not even sure you are doing (but you must be, right?). By way of quick review, “enabling” actually means doing positive things that will end up supporting continued negative behavior, such as providing your child with money so they won’t “go hungry” during the day, knowing they use it to buy pot, or going to talk to the teacher to make sure they don’t get a bad grade, even though their bad test score was due to drinking, or calling your husband’s work to explain he’s sick today, when he’s actually hung over. These are examples of doing something “nice” for your loved one that actually (from a behavioral reinforcement standpoint) might increase the frequency of the negative behavior, not decrease it. The logic: if they act badly, and nothing happens, or something good happens, this behavior is encouraged, even if what you are doing is “nice”. This IS enabling, and this is not helpful in changing behavior in a positive direction.
But everything nice is not enabling! And that’s the quicksand we have developed in our culture. Staying connected, rewarding positive behaviors with positivity, being caring and loving; these things are critical to positive change. So what’s the difference? Continue reading