A Compassionate Approach to Addiction Treatment
Addiction affects more than the just struggling individual; it affects the entire family. Nonetheless, recovery from addiction is most effective when the whole family takes measures to heal together, rather than pitting blame against the suffering individual. Many parents have been coached to employ the “tough love” approach on their child, which often may result in the “rehab or get cut off” ultimatum in order to help he/she “hit rock bottom”. But most find it difficult to kick their child out of the house, especially during a time in which fentanyl is rapid in the streets. This drug, which is often masked in opioids such as heroine, can stop one’s breathing in seconds. Realistically, waiting for an individual to “hit rock bottom” could very well result in death.
There is no uniform approach to healing for the family affected by addiction. Although many people will admit that being initially forced into rehab was, in hindsight, necessary to begin their journey to recovery, studies demonstrate that a compassionate approach and voluntary treatment are the most effective ways to help struggling individuals achieve and maintain long-term, successful recovery.
Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) has taken an empathetic, rather than punitive, approach to substance abuse, teaching parents how to exercise an authoritative style by which they can create a sense of responsibility in the child while maintaining compassion. In other words, the parent learns how to say “I love you and I am here for you, but I can’t help you avoid the negative consequences of your actions”, thereby employing compassion without the enabling. In essence, this model teaches parents how to coach their child, shifting the focus from their own feelings of terror to what their child is feeling and going through; it teaches parents to walk side-by-side with their child, rather than attempting to dictate his/her behavior. The shift from enforcing harsh consequences to providing support and compassion provides a therapeutic process for both the child and parents.
The criminalizing approach to addiction does not align with the “addiction as a disease” model. A parent would never be angry or disengaging with their child if he/she had cancer. Just as other chronic medical conditions are treated with compassion and care, so should addiction. A compassionate approach is most effective and also works to reduce the stigma of addiction, which is often what fuels the shame that prevents addicted individuals from seeking help.
The parent-coaching model is gaining traction in the addiction-treatment realm. For example, the Center for Motivation & Change (CMC) has collaborated with the Partnership for Drug Free Kids to develop the Parent Support Network (PSN)—a free, national coaching network for parents seeking support for a child struggling with substance abuse which teaches the evidence-based strategies of CRAFT, Motivational Interviewing (MI), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Recovery Fusion Santa Barbara Addiction Treatment works in tandem with licensed professionals to address the family as a whole and help the family heal together. Our dedicated Recovery Support Specialists empower parents to coach their child during times of crisis. The parent-coaching extends beyond the time of crisis, thereby strengthening the family system. For more information on our services, please call (805)689-1256.