A while back, we published an article entitled “Addiction as a Family Disease: Stories of Hope.” In this article, we discussed the two-way relationship in which the addict affects their family while the family has an effect on the addict. We related three stories of hope. Two were about families who learned to move on following the loss of a loved one, while the first was about a woman who learned to embrace recovery after grappling with the same disease that had taken hold of her father and her brothers. In this article, we’d like to discuss how we can combat this family illness through the Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner and our parent alumni program.
Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner and our parent alumni program are two of the main features that make Amethyst a true family program. While our programs are generally designed to help addicts learn how to recover, we also recognize that the family is in recovery as well. Since they don’t have the ability to seek recovery through addiction treatment, they must find other means. We’ll examine some of those means below.
Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner
The Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner is, in many ways, very self-explanatory. This is a closed Facebook group for the mothers of addicts and alcoholics. By “closed” we do not mean that we are strictly exclusive or elitist in any way, but rather that your posts will not be made visible to anyone outside of the group. This means that you can feel free to share your feelings and experiences freely, knowing that the only people reading your posts will be people who understand precisely what you are going through. In other words, the Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner is essentially an online support group hosted through Facebook.
This support group for the mothers of those who suffer from substance abuse disorders was started by Laurie Kesaris. If you have read a few articles on our site before, then you might be familiar with her name. Laurie Kesaris is the mother of our COO, and has written multiple articles about mothering a son throughout his struggles with addiction, as well as the natural instinct that many parents have to enable their children. Laurie writes her articles predominantly from firsthand experience, giving them a sense of weight and legitimacy that is often absent from articles on similar subjects that have been posted on pop psychology sites.
If you would like to join Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner, all you have to do is click the link to the Facebook group linked above and request to join. One of the group’s many admins will admit you into the group. From there, you can share your experiences and get into contact with fellow parents, with full reassurance that your posts will remain closed and anonymous to anyone outside of the group.
The importance of the fellowship offered by a support group such as our Moms’ Corner cannot be overstated. It can be easy for mothers, or parents in general for that matter, to feel as if they are suffering alone. It can be easy to feel as if their child is the only one suffering from this unfortunate malady. They may subscribe to certain negative stereotypes and personality myths regarding addicts as “bad people,” a description which goes against the fundamental beliefs that most mothers have toward their children. It is not uncommon for the addict’s family to suffer this type of confusion. Addiction introduces the family to another side of the addict’s personality, one with which the family has not previously been acquainted. Many mothers may find themselves feeling as if they don’t know who their child is anymore. Discussing this feeling with those who have experienced it before can help them to realize that what they are feeling is perfectly natural.
Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner provides all of the benefits of your typical support group, but it allows mothers to communicate online and on their own time. Those who cannot find an adequate support group in their area that accommodates their schedule will still find in our Facebook group a safe and comfortable place to express themselves during this difficult time. And even after their sons or daughters have entered into recovery, the mothers in our corner will have a network of friends to whom they can relate.
Our Moms’ Corner might not be the only support group available to the mothers of addicts and alcoholics (we’ll discuss other options at the end of this article); nonetheless, we’re quite proud of it. We hope to bring together as many mothers as possible to support each other’s families while their kids are in recovery. Thanks to Laurie Kesaris, we already have a Facebook group of well over 1500 people. That’s not a bad start.
Parent Alumni Program
Another aspect of our family program that we believe stands to help a great number of people is our parent alumni program. We strive to demonstrate to both addicts and their families that there is always hope for recovery, and the best way to do that is to point to those that came before them. One of the most important tools available to every family is faith that recovery is a possibility. Following the credo of “seeing is believing,” we recognize that it is easier to maintain such faith when one has been introduced to the family of an addict who has managed to overcome their disease one day at a time.
Even if parents do not always understand the nature of the disease, they know that the situation is dire. They often find themselves waiting with bated breath while their beloved children are in treatment. They do not know if their sons or daughters will make it through treatment, or how successful they will be once they have come out on the other side. But through our parent alumni program, they are able to meet others who have battled this very same fear. They are reminded that they are not the only family who has been tormented by a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease.
As we have said before, the addict is not the only one with a need to recover. Some families may not even realize just how much their loved one’s disease has affected them until the treatment process has already begun. It can take time to rebuild trust, and to begin developing the faith that will return them to the belief that their family can once again be whole. If both the addict and the family has done the appropriate work to rebuild the bonds between them, they may even find that they are stronger than they have ever been.
The type of networking provided by our parent alumni program, as well as Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner, is a major part of the aforementioned work. We have previously written on the need for addicts to develop a strong and sober support network. This is equally true of the family. By making use of our Moms’ Corner and our parent alumni program, addicts and their families can build a network which consists of families who are just as frightened as they are, as well as families with a bit more experience in dealing with addiction and its many consequences.
One of the other benefits of our parent alumni program is that some parents have experienced addiction from both sides. This gives them a unique ability to understand not only what the family is going through, but what the addicted individual is going through as well. The insight provided by such parents is important, as it enables them to provide a relatively objective view of the situation in which a family finds itself when one of their young develops a problem with substance abuse. Having such parents in one’s support network is a gift, providing families with an enlightened view of addiction and how it manifests itself as a family disease.
If you have any questions about our parent alumni program, or other ways in which Amethyst Recovery may be considered a true family program, feel free to contact us at your convenience. We can provide you with any details you might desire, and answer any other questions that you may have regarding Amethyst Recovery and our means of addiction treatment. Below, we’ll talk about some outside means your family might consider while seeking support to deal with the tragic circumstances of a child’s addiction.
While Amethyst Recovery offers options such as our Moms’ Corner and our parent alumni program, some families might want to expand their search for support. Fortunately, there are numerous options available to them. We have discussed some of these options in previous articles, but we will reiterate them here for the sake of keeping them in one place. We hope that any families who read this will give great consideration to these options, and will make the most of any that suit their needs.
The first option to consider is finding a local support group. While you can find a great deal of support through Amethyst Recovery Moms’ Corner and our parent alumni program, it can help greatly to go to regular support meetings at your local chapter of Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. The other benefit to these support groups is that they have multiple branches such as Alateen and Narateen. This means that younger members of the family can receive support and fellowship from peers within their own age group. While our Moms’ Corner and parent alumni program are largely geared toward mothers and fathers, these support groups allow the whole family to sit in a room with members of other addictive households and share in their experience, strength and hope.
Another important option to consider is formal therapy. There are many family therapists who specialize in dealing with addiction to drugs and alcohol. They can help the family to better understand the disease, while allowing them some insight into how it has affected them. Many such therapists can also offer keen advice regarding the best ways to deal with their afflicted family member without enabling them. This can be a difficult balance to strike. Most parents just want their children to be happy, to be safe. Unfortunately, enabling an addict or alcoholic interferes with their ability to seek safety and happiness on their own. Family addiction therapists can help to relieve parents of the urge to do for their children what their children can do for themselves.
On the subject of therapy, it would not hurt for parents to be involved with their children’s recovery. Note, however, that there is a difference between involvement and control. It would not hurt for a parent to contact their child’s addiction therapist from time to time. But in doing so, parents must understand that they are not necessarily privy to all of the information that has been relayed through counseling. Parents should also recognize that our certified counselors have specific ways of doing things, and trying to control the manner in which a child is counseled will not help the outcome of addiction treatment. It can be hard to give up this sort of control. But doing so will ultimately serve to benefit the parents by lifting a humongous weight from their shoulders.
Speaking of lifting a weight from one’s shoulders, parents should take some time to seek relief while their child is in addiction treatment. Watching a child battle such a tragically crippling illness can be highly stressful. Try to combat this stress by practicing some sitting meditations, going on walks, or even taking some time to focus on nutrition. While your child is in treatment, you are blessed in that you do not have to wait up all night and wonder where they are, what they’re doing, and if they’ll make it home. Even parents of “children” well into their twenties and thirties are likely to sprout some grey hairs over these concerns. The issue is out of your hands for now, so try to look after yourself.
Addiction is a family disease, but it does not have to be a terminal one. Families can learn from one another, support one another, and be there to enjoy each other’s successes as their children enter into recovery. The above options will help families to recover from the familial consequences of addiction, while our Moms’ Corner and parent alumni program will provide them will an excellent support system. With these tools, families can discover a ray of hope at the end of a very dark time in their lives. We are truly grateful that we are able to offer families such an opportunity.