Support for family members affected by drugs and alcohol in their own right

Support for family members affected by drugs and alcohol in their own right

I’ve attended training in January to learn the 5-Step Method of supporting families coping with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use.

It is the first time I have come across a model of support that helps family members in their own right. Usually, the person having problems with substance use accesses a service then families are offered help as a result of this.

 

Family support groups

 

The type and quality of the help varies from country to city to town. There is no consistency in this. For example, a family in Ireland will be able to access family support groups which are led by family members who have been supported, trained and developed by the National Family Support Network. They have set up quality assurance so that families can access a quality service whether It’s led by volunteers or led by professionals.

In Manchester, there are a few family-led support groups that I’ve heard of, but I feel ignorant that I haven’t linked up with them more, so the families I help can get further support from people that are in the same, but unique, situation as themselves. This is called peer-led support and allows people at the very least to realise they are not alone in coping with  a loved one’s drug or alcohol use.

Local carers centres also provide advice and support for families caring for people with drug and alcohol problems.

 

Local drug and alcohol services offer

 

Drug and alcohol services are getting better at offering family support services. In Bury, they offer the CRAFT programme (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) and in Salford, they offer 5-Step Method, but again, this usually depends on the person using substances accessing the service then families being supported following this.

There are whole family support services commissioned in some areas like Early Break’s award winning Holding Families which provides a 6-month programme for children and families affected by parental substance use.

 

Why families should stop focussing on the person using drugs/acohol

 

Family members always focus on the needs of their drug or alcohol using relative before themselves. I saw an advert recently on Facebook for a rehab and family members were asking, ‘how much is this?’ and ‘how long do they stay for?’. There was nothing about, ‘what support do you provide for families?’. When a family member made a comment, the rehab posted a link to Famanon which made it pretty clear that they didn’t support families and they were solely focused on the person using substances spending money to go to rehab.

People tend to think that rehab will solve everyone’s problems, but they cost anything from 5-50k. It is possible to get to rehab through the drug and alcohol service but it doesn’t happen overnight because of the cost to services. The person using substances has to show a commitment and often a reduction in their drug or alcohol use before they will be given funding to go to detox or rehab. Drug and Alcohol services often run a pre-detox group and who can blame them with so many funding cuts to services.

 

Why rehabs are not always the answer


Rehabs are great, but, Most people relapse in the first 90 days following a period in rehab. Why? Because they don’t have the skills to face the reality of being back at home in the same situation, with the same triggers and the same life that they were tucked away from in rehab. It is then that people need support and guidance when they are back in reality. I know a family who paid 30k to send a relative to a luxury rehab, she was drinking again within three weeks. No aftercare was provided unless they travelled 200 miles back to the residential rehab their relative had left. Family support was non-existent – a lesson here is that it doesn’t matter what you pay, it’s the aftercare that counts. Lots of services recommend 12-steps for families but this involves going to groups which works for some but not for others. I recommend to give everything a go twice and find something that works for each individual.

The point I’m trying to make is there are lots of services for problematic drug and alcohol users, but there are also many for families too. The more support families get, the more they can focus on themselves, regardless of whether their relative continues to drink or take drugs or not.

 

Focus on the family

 

There are some brilliant programmes out there for family members which I have mentioned above. CRAFT focuses on reducing stress and getting a loved one into treatment. The model I use with families is similar to this, so family members are supported at the same time as figuring out the detail of their loved one’s substance use in order to understand it and influence their loved one’s behaviour (note that I’ve said influence as you cannot change anyone else’s behaviour, it is their choice). Mainly, it builds resilience and coping strategies with family members so they can live a better life.

 

5-Step Method

 

I’ve now been trained in 5 step method (this has nothing to do with 12 steps!) which is a fantastic way of supporting family members in their own right. It doesn’t matter whether they have regular contact with the person using drugs or alcohol, whether they are in treatment themselves and it doesn’t even focus on their loved one at all. This is all about families. What they need, what they want to know and discussing whatever is important to them.

This is a unique and evidence-based model which has been tested out to work all over the world.

I deliver this over 6 sessions with an introductory session included:

1. Introduction, assessment and goal setting

2. Getting to know you and the problem

3. Providing you with relevant information

4. Exploring how you respond and cope

5. Exploring and enhancing social support

6. Identifying further needs and referring on for further help

It is a wonderful programme of support! Find out more on my website here as I’m offering this at my training rate and can deliver online so you can get the help in the comfort of your own home. You just need a set of headphones and a phone/laptop. I also offer my services in the Manchester area (UK).

Get in touch for a friendly chat about your situation and to find out more about my services.

Take care,

Victoria.

Four ways to help yourself with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use

Four ways to help yourself with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use

Are you stuck with trying to help your husband, wife or other family member with their drinking or drug use?  You are probably is a position where you feel you have tried everything and nothing works. They wont stop, they’re lying and you are stressed out with a combination of trying to help them and getting mad/upset with their behaviour. The model I use in my family work was written by Phil Harris. He wrote a guest blog for me last year about the history of the programme and how effective it is. Check it out here. This blog is about four ways you can help yourself with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use.

I want to explore some strategies you can use to help get your loved one not only to accept, but get into treatment for their drug or alcohol use. More importantly, this will reduce your own stress and pressure and improve your quality of life, whether your loved one changes or not!

Did you get that? The focus in my family work is for YOU to get your own help in your own right. I can’t tell you how many calls I get from family members to get their loved one’s into rehab or to work with them, even though they have no intention (currently) of changing! Family members need help too. They are so used to neglecting themselves that they don’t even think about their own needs.

 

The starting point

 

The first thing I always advise is to accept the drug and alcohol use into your life. Stop fighting against it. It just takes away all your energy. I’m not saying you need to accept it forever, or forgive alcohol or drugs, but accept it enough so that you can work with it. This is hard but a necessary step.

Once you’ve done that, if you can put these four strategies into place, and stick to it, you will see a change and tip the balance so that the negative consequences of their substance use outweighs the positives. In other words, by changing the environment your loved one is living in, you will help to make drugs less attractive to them. They will also see the benefits of being sober. Sound easy? It’s not, It’s hard. It is a long process and you will need to be consistent.

 

4 strategies

 

The 4 key strategies for family members affected by a loved one’s drug or alcohol use are:

 

  1. Withdraw from a loved one when intoxicated-ignore ignore ignore when under the influence. Don’t get into it. Get away. Go to bed. Go out. Anything you can but do not take on board what a loved one is saying. EVER! Only listen when they are sober. Send a clear message that you will not offer your company when they are using their substance of choice. They will only get you when they are sober. This will also reduce your stress and anxiety and store your energy for yourself.
  2. Reward when sober- This doesn’t have to be outings, anything from telling a loved you like spending time with them when they are sober, to doing something you like together (a sober activity!) or making their favourite dinner. This is telling them that when they are sober, they get your company and a reminder of how good life is without their substance.
  3. Disable enabling- avoid doing anything that makes your loved one’s drug or alcohol use easier. It’s useful to make a list of how you might make it easier for them. Helping must not involve anything they can do themselves or that rescues them from the consequences of their drug or alcohol use. Examples of this are clearing up their mess, calling in sick to work, giving them money, making excuses for family and so on!
  4. Use positive communication techniques, even when you want to scream! Again, the best way to do this is to walk away when you are filled with emotion, particularly if your loved one is under the influence. Walk away and don’t address anything with them until they are sober (or as sober as they ever get). It can be so tempting to forget everything when a loved one is sober and you are getting on great, just to keep the peace, however, these are the times you need to bring how you feel up. The best way to do this is by using I-Messages. Instead of saying you this, you that. Try this;

I feel…when…because…

I would like it if…

 

Give these strategies a go. It’s not easy to do this on your own but you can join my Facebook Group, Vesta Confidential, for support from others in your situation and for information and advice from me.

 

Take care,

 

Victoria

Counselling is not the only option

Counselling is not the only option

Counselling is not the only option

 

Drug and alcohol use affects not only the person using the substance themselves, but the people around them too. It is estimated that for every problematic substance user, between five and twenty family members are affected by their use (ADFAM).

I wanted to write about why counselling isn’t the only option. Don’t get me wrong, I will never, ever discredit counselling because I’ve had it myself and had a positive experience. I also work with counsellors and fully respect what they do, so they would not be too impressed with me if I said otherwise!

That said, counselling isn’t the only option. Recently, I’ve had a few conversations about this very point.

 

About my service

 

For the type of help someone using substances can access, have a look at my blog, Drug and alcohol help- choices for a friend or family member.

Speaking for myself, I am a qualified and experienced drug and alcohol practitioner, also qualified in teaching, NLP, a safeguarding practitioner and soon-to-be professional coach and I have led and developed services and teams. I have a track record of supporting individuals and families to recover from their own substance use or the effects of it as a family member.

I offer solution focused therapeutic interventions.

What does that mean? It means when a person using substances, or a family member, comes to me and asks me to help them with drugs, alcohol and associated problems, they set the goals and I guide them towards achieving these goals within a specific time-frame, following a specific programme.

The therapy isn’t just the session we have together. The individual I’m working with has to put into practice what we’ve covered in the session. Therapy requires a commitment to change.

I used evidence-based programmes for my family work. Evidence-based means that I use programmes that have been developed by other people that have been tested out to be effective for the people I’m working with. If my client goes off track, that’s fine, I’ll help them get back on their path to reach their goal, or we’ll set new ones together. Things change, so do people.

My clients are in control, I advise and guide them to get to where they want to be, but in planned, semi-structured sessions. We cover different topics in each session, have a check in and review at the start of each session and plan an action for the week at the end of it. I want to move people on.

For me, the session doesn’t end there, there is additional work that takes place behind the scenes such as recording notes, admin tasks, contacting services I have consent to speak with or refer to and so on. If there is more than one family member getting support, then this will increase the time spent on each case. I have an option to travel to my clients, so this time is factored in.

What my clients get as standard is:

  • Weekly one-hour therapeutic session (Skype/face to face with options in family home or at my Manchester base)
  • Solution-focused work so they will see a change in the time they work with me which is evidence by a relaxed assessment at the start and end of our work.
  • Actions to follow up between sessions with support
  • Programmes are evidence based
  • Referrals and communication with existing or new services (with consent)
  • Email/text contact between sessions

 

I also offer options to support people in their own homes or at an appropriate venue or their choice.

My expertise in supporting recovery from drugs and alcohol ensures that the people I support get a specialist service for a special issue.

 

Other types of support

 

I asked some colleagues and friends of mine what they offer in their services, so I could attempt to explain counselling and alternative support…

 

Counselling

 

Louise Wilkinson is not only a qualified drug and alcohol practitioner but is also a counsellor. I asked her what the difference is in drug and alcohol work and counselling. She said,

“A counsellor process is led by the client. The counsellor doesn’t have an agenda. The session is directed and led primarily by the person coming for help. The sessions help them to achieve whatever brought them to counselling in the first place. It doesn’t mean the presenting need ends up being the problem they end up dealing with, but they are autonomous in their decision making and how the session goes.”

Following the session, some counsellors will write up brief therapeutic notes, so unless there are any safeguarding issues, when the session finishes, the therapists work is complete. The client will have a lot to think about. Louise says that in her role as a substance misuse worker, she does use counselling skills, but also offers information and advice, which wouldn’t be the case in her counselling sessions where she would encourage her clients to work through feelings, emotions and behaviours.

Some counsellors specialise in addiction (and many other areas) too, so be sure to ask this because it is really useful to work through the feelings that led to the substance use in the first place. There is usually no time limit to counselling so some people might access it for years and others a much shorter period of time.

 

Hypnotherapy

 

Thomas McGowan is a hypnotherapist and he describes hypnotherapy as,

“Relaxation, like daydreaming, that’s what the feeling is almost. Clients are fully aware of what’s going on, but are focusing on the subconscious mind, where everything is controlled, including feelings and functions. By working directly with the subconscious mind, we are able to get to the root cause of presenting problems. We cannot change memories, but we can sever the emotional ties, are so clients getting the best possible outcomes with the least discomfort.”

Thomas delivers addiction hypnotherapy in which he deals with changing perspective, letting go of the past and building the future. The initial offer is five x 1.5 hour sessions with the option of ongoing support if needed.

In Thomas’s opinion, hypnotherapy clients revisit their pain-points but they are moved on from these in a comfortable way, rather than staying in the moment. He believes counselling works through these painful times by revisiting them and the feelings associated with it.

 

Community Drug and Alcohol Services

 

Each local authority provides funded drug and alcohol services, guided by our drug strategy. They are free for people who want to use the service. Every locality offers a service for adults and also for young people. These services provide support for people experiencing problems with substances. Some also provide support for affected family members too. For example, One Recovery in Bury delivers CRAFT which is an evidence- based model supporting families living with a loved one’s substance use. It is a similar model to the one I use in my practice.

I have previously worked at Early Break and I’m currently delivering a project there for their Holding Families Service. Early Break has a range of services that supports young people and families. I might be biased but they are brilliant!

 

In summary

 

The difference between these service and the others I mentioned is that these are free and the others are private, which means the client pays for them. Some counselling can be offered through GP’s along with other therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which are equally as effective, depending on the needs of the client. They usually require a bit of a wait to access them because of the high need.

It is always advisable to check a practitioner’s experience of supporting drugs, alcohol and/or families before deciding to work with them. In addition, check their credentials and who they are registered or accredited with because this gives an extra layer of protection for the services you opt for. I am registered with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners, which means I have to follow their code of practice and I’m listed on there in their practitioner directory.

Some people want a private service, others don’t, but everyone listed above works confidentially. Every one of the services above may be qualified in one or more type of support. The important thing is to ask.

Hopefully this has made a bit of sense about the options available to support families and that counselling is not the only option.

 

Other support

 

I obviously don’t have time to mention every type of support here. There are so many options for therapy. Here are some services relevant to my clients:

  • For children affected by parental alcohol use, take a look at NACOA.
  • For families, take a look at ADFAM’s website.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area or via Skype worldwide.

I also have an online therapeutic programme. Take a look at my services here

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free Ten Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

Take care,

Victoria.

 

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How do I know if someone is an addict?- Part one- The stages of substance use

How do I know if someone is an addict?- Part one- The stages of substance use

Did I get your attention? Just so you know, I never ever label anyone an ‘addict’. I’ll explain why in part two of this blog. For now, forget the labels and read on…

 

Let’s face it, most of us have overindulged with alcohol and/or drugs in our time. Many people do this either regularly or occasionally and this causes minimal or no problems. It is difficult to recognise in ourselves that we might be going too far because ‘everyone is doing it’. ‘Such-and-such-a-body drinks more than me’. ‘I’ve been round and had nothing before (*reality check* – it was once) many a time and watched everyone get wasted’.

 

What I’m getting at here is that it’s easy for people to deny they have a problem. Sometimes we don’t recognise it in ourselves. Sometimes we don’t recognise it in others. Sometimes, others recognise it in us. We might recognise it in someone else that doesn’t have a clue!

 

Some people use drugs or alcohol and, other than tiredness and feeling a bit rubbish, get on with life as usual (ba****ds!). For others, it causes problems in daily functioning.

 

It is these people who often deny they have a problem and make excuses to deflect from the fact that they need to part ways with their substance(s) of choice. This is often too difficult to face for many and requires a whole lifestyle change and a lot of energy.

 

The starting point

 

The first port of call is to get clued up on the different types and stages of substance use. (Just so you know, I refer to substance use to include both drugs and alcohol)

 

To simplify…

 

I believe that if drugs or alcohol are causing problems in somebody’s life, then they need help. Depending on the stage of substance use they are at, their current lifestyle, their mental and physical health, motivation to change, Adverse Childhood Experiences and other life experiences, the help they need will vary.

Everyone’s recovery journey is unique and not everyone will want to stop.

 

The language of substance use

 

Firstly, there are differences between the language of substance use. Some terms commonly used are ‘problematic substance use’, ‘addiction’ or ‘dependency’, and, as they are used interchangeably, it starts being confusing!

Problematic substance use refers to drug or alcohol use which is affecting one or more areas of a person’s life. This could be work, relationships, health or anything else. People often don’t realise that the reason they are having problems, is due to their drug or alcohol use. They often don’t understand the impact of their particular drug on the way they think, feel and behave.

Dependency– is where an individual requires a drug, in order to function. In my view, this can be either physical or psychological. For example, some people use drugs to mask their feelings and some people use drugs to either mask their physical pain, or have what we refer to, as physical withdrawals when the drug starts to leave their system. Dependency is mostly attributed to drugs that cause physical symptoms in the body when someone tried to stop using them.

Addiction is where a particular behaviour is compulsive or habitual, despite the fact that it is having a negative impact on an individual’s life. The way I describe it is that the drug is in control of the person, rather than the person being in control of the drug.

Someone can be dependent and addicted to certain drugs (such as alcohol and heroin)

Someone can be addicted but not dependent on other drugs (such as cocaine and caffeine)

Someone can be dependent but not addicted (such as someone who is taking medication for pain)

 

Stages of substance use

 

Here’s a handy diagram to help you to start thinking about the above. Notice that ‘addiction’ is not referred to here as ‘addiction’ is not actually a diagnosis used for someone having problems with their substance use…

spectrum of pschoactive substances

Diagram source: http://www.cfdp.ca/bchoc.pdf

 

Beneficial use would generally be medicinal but, as stated, includes other benefits. Many substance users may say their drug use is beneficial for them. This could be true, but it could also be an excuse for continuing use. The minute the substance starts causing problems for them is the minute the negatives outweigh the positives.

 

Non-problematic use would be those people who manage their substance use with limited or no impact- This is sometimes where family members find out and start panicking. Talk to your loved one and get the facts. They might be taking them but managing their use well.

 

Problematic use (harmful use) can range from someone having a few problems or lots of problems- you may know more than your loved one that their substance use is causing them problems.

 

Dependence is where someone can no longer easily choose to stop taking their drug of choice. The individual’s priority is to source and use their drug and activities are centred around it.

 

Where is your loved one on the spectrum?

 

As I bring part one of this blog to a close, where do you think your loved one is on the spectrum of psychoactive substance use?

 

Head over here next week for part two where I will be focusing on the diagnosis of substance use.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area or via Skype worldwide.

I also have an online therapeutic programme. Take a look at my services here

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free Ten Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

Take care,

Victoria.

Resilience- how to cope under pressure

Resilience- how to cope under pressure

Resilience- how to cope under pressure

Liggy Webb

I attended Liggy Webb’s Resilience Master Class in Manchester a few years ago and I’ve been a huge fan of her work ever since. I am so excited that she has agreed to guest blog for us. Liggy has worked all over the world supporting individuals and organisations through her amazing knowledge and specialism of this subject. She ignited my passion for the subject which I taught to staff and managers in the NHS at the time. See my blog “How the Circle of Influence can help you lead a better life”.

Resilience is such an important skill/behaviour/attitude to have in order for us to cope with difficult situations thrown our way. That’s not to say that we will always be resilient all of the time and in every situation! Learning how to “be” resilient is crucial when living with a problematic drug or alcohol user. Whether you are in this situation or not, Liggy wrote this guest blog for me last year and it’s just too good not to re-post:


By Liggy Webb

The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

Japanese Proverb

 

What is resilience?

 

Some people describe resilience as the ability to bend instead of breaking when experiencing pressure or the ability to persevere and adapt when faced with challenges. These abilities help people to be more open and willing to take on new opportunities. In this way resilience is more than just survival, it is also about letting go and learning to grow.

 

Liggy’s work

 

Personally I find the topic of resilience fascinating and have spent the last few years deep in research exploring the habits and behaviors of resilient people.  In the work that I do with the United Nations travelling to some very challenged parts of the world I have had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

For my latest book Resilience – How to cope when everything around you changes I interviewed over 100 people who had experienced varying degrees of set backs. From these interviews and various other research channels I was able to create a competency framework around resilience, developing a deep understanding of the necessary coping strategies for dealing with adversity.

Resilience- how to cope when everything around you changes

 

Personal experience

 

Then I was given a huge opportunity to personally put my knowledge and the strategies that I had designed to the test!

Two years ago, quite out of the blue after feeling very lethargic and out of sorts, I was diagnosed with a very rare tumour actually growing inside my heart. The prognosis was critical and open-heart surgery was the only way to proceed. For someone who is in good health and still in my forties it came as a huge shock. I guess we never really imagine things like this are going to happen to us until they do! The most significant thing that I learnt was that whilst we may not be able to control some of our circumstances, we can absolutely choose the way we respond to them.

I think in many ways I surprised myself, you never really know how you will react in these situations and it’s amazing how resourceful we can be when we need to.

I learnt so many things and I can honestly say it has certainly taught me a few things about recovery and indeed my own resilience. It was without doubt, life changing, with so many defining moments.

 

Top tips for resilience

 

Recently I was interviewed about my own experience with regards to recovery and asked to define the three most important resilience behaviors and this is what I concluded:

 

1. Accept your current situation

Let’s face it we all like to be in control, however, in some situations you have to put your trust in others hands and ask for help. For example, if we think of what we can control and what we can’t, we need to accept we cannot change the choices other people make. We can only change the way we behave. Sometimes acceptance of your situation and taking care of yourself is the best use of your energy.

 Tips for accepting your current situation

  • Remember acceptance is not about resignation, it is the recognition that fighting a situation that you cannot change may be a waste of personal resources
  • Acceptance will put you in state of flow which will help to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Learn that you cannot control other people’s choices

 

2. Take personal responsibility

Life can be very unpredictable and invariably we will all be subjected to various set backs and personal challenges. You can’t always control what happens to you in life.

You do however have total control about how you choose to respond to those situations. By taking personal responsibility for your reactions and attitude you will be far more empowered to cope and manage the ultimate outcome.

Tips for taking personal responsibility

  • Acknowledge that you are in total control of your response to any situation that presents itself to you
  • Be aware of the victim trap and focus on what you can do
  • Avoid the blame game and spend your time seeking solutions – spend your time instead seeking solutions

 

3. Be positive

Thinking positively is not about putting your head in the sand and being unrealistic, as some people may believe. With a positive attitude you can recognise the negative aspects of a situation and then make a conscious decision to focus instead on the hope and opportunity that is available. This releases you from getting locked in a paralysing loop of negative emotion and allows you to bounce back from adversity and challenging experiences.

Tips for seeing the glass half full

  • Try to make a conscious decision to challenge each negative thought and flip it over into a positive thought
  • Understand that every experience in your life whether it is good, or bad will bring a valuable lesson with it which will enable you to cope better in the future.
  • Remember that life is ultimately what you make of it and your attitude can have a huge impact on everything you experience

 

In summary

Being resilient takes effort and practice. It may well feel sometimes as if you are taking one step forwards and two steps back, almost as if you are doing a little dance with life. The key however is to keep moving and to not lose the faith that you can and will pull through if you remain positive and hopeful. The quicker that you can start recovering and bounce back, the better because life can pass so quickly and this is your golden opportunity to make the best and the most of it.


More information about resilience

 

Thanks so much to Liggy for writing a blog for us.

For access to a complimentary life skills library email liggy@liggywebb.com

Click to access The Little Book of Resilience

Check out Liggy’s Website

Please comment about what you do to keep resilient.

 

I can help

 

My service, The Vesta Approach, supports families affected by a loved one’s substance use. You can access confidential support from me wherever you are in the world. I will help you to get your loved one into treatment and lead a better life. I offer face to face sessions in the Manchester (UK) area or via Skype worldwide.

I also have an online therapeutic programme. Take a look at my services here

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Sign up to my mailing list here to keep up to date with Vesta news and get my free Ten Steps to Family Recovery download.

 

Take care,

Victoria.