Being close to someone who is struggling with substance use problems can be exhausting and overwhelming at times. The problem commonly referred to as “addiction” is grossly misunderstood and the misinformation being propagated by addiction experts and the treatment and recovery community is misleading, wrong, and harmful. By labeling problem substance use (i.e. addiction) a progressive, incurable disease, this idea systematically takes away the substance user’s ability to change. Worse yet, by labeling it a “family disease”, the responsibility for the substance user’s behaviors are basically taken away from the only person who does have control, that being the substance user, and placed on those who have no power at all over the substance user’s behaviors, the family. This family addiction disease theory, and the treatment based on it, is largely inaccurate and leads to damaged relationships and broken families.
If you have attended any kind of therapy, especially family addiction therapy, you are likely familiar with the terms “denial”, “co-dependent”, and “enabling.” You have probably analyzed each of your actions and reactions to see how you may be contributing to the substance user’s ongoing drug and/or alcohol problems. You may feel immense guilt over your past behaviors and conflicts with the substance user as you are concerned those may have contributed to the substance user’s behaviors today. You may be struggling with intense fear and anxiety for the substance user’s health and well-being, both mentally and physically, and you may now be completely confused as to what you should do.
In these situations, well-meaning family members, friends, counselors, and even acquaintances, weigh in on what they think you should do and each person’s advice is different and many times conflicting. This can leave you more confused and frustrated than ever. So, what should you do? The answer may be simpler than you think and The Freedom Model for the Family text can help families navigate through the difficult times of living with a substance user. Also, The Freedom Model System taught at The Freedom Model Retreats in Upstate New York can help determine the best course of action for the substance user themselves. So there is a solution for everyone. Know this – for each family, the answer is different. And even for individuals within the same family, the best course of action may be different from one person to the next. First and foremost, it is important to strip away the misinformation and panic, and ensure that everyone involved learns the truth about addiction, substance use, and choice.
The misinformation being propagated in our addiction disease and recovery-centered culture is at the heart of the current addiction crisis and is actually fueling it. The addiction disease theory, and the treatment based on it, makes people believe that they need to be rescued. It forces them to think they must be saved from themselves by external means. Heavy substance users are taught that something outside of themselves, a sponsor, a counselor, a pill, a meeting, a treatment provider, etc., must get into their mind and change their wants and desires largely against their wishes. And they are taught that their wants and desires for heavy substance use are not only morally wrong, but an indicator that they are sick and completely out of control, which is why they need an outside entity to fix them.
One of the primary problems with addiction treatment is the reality that the only person that can change your wants and desires is you. Think about something you truly love – maybe it’s coffee, chocolate, Chardonnay, or running. Can some external force change your desire for that which you love? In the same vein, can an external force make you like or love something that you don’t? Think about that. Of course it can’t; that kind of preference change can only happen within your own mind. And that internal change of mind is absolutely required for people to change their substance use habits for good.
Research has shown clearly that no one makes a long term change in behavior, and in their preferences, based on lies, distortions, and fear; and sadly, the treatment industry is built on those things. It is built on forcing people to make a change they don’t truly want to make. The truth is people will only make a change in their lives when they come to believe they can be happier by making the change. You may think, well, isn’t that the same thing as wanting to avoid negative consequences? The answer is no, and in the Freedom Model System you will see the immense differences between these two motivators – moving toward happiness and avoiding pain, and exactly why that difference is crucial to your loved one’s long term success.
The overall goal of The Freedom Model is to educate the family on what addiction is, what it is not ,and how people stop and/or change their substance use habits. We also want to help families separate their own happiness, success, and life goals from the substance user’s. Ultimately, The Freedom Model for the Family is designed to help families of substance users build happier lives, regardless of what the substance user does or does not do. While it is true that you have no control over the substance user and his/her behavior, it is important to understand that, by changing the relationship you currently have with the substance user and improving the quality of your own life, it is more likely the substance user will come to you for help when ready, potentially follow your example, and seek to improve the quality of his/her life as well.
For more information on The Freedom Model Retreats for the substance user, or The Freedom Model for the Family text, call 888-424-2626 .