Jim Savage is a leading proponent of increased family involvement and support as an effective tool for improving treatment outcomes. His book Rehab Works! A Parent’s Guide to Drug Treatment spells out everything that goes into successful treatment and what families can do to dramatically increase the chances for treatment success.
Treatment success is every parent’s hope when having to address an addiction problem with a teenage or young adult child. Yet practically everyone is familiar with an unfortunate story where someone with an addiction problem went to rehab and it didn’t appear to help. With so much failure on our radar, public perception of rehab can become tainted. However, addiction can be successfully treated and recovery is possible.
While treatment success rates can be alarmingly poor, the truth is when an individual relapses it’s not really that difficult to look at a case and identify what went wrong. Being able to recognize and avoid common pitfalls is the key to treatment success.
To help avoid the “revolving door syndrome” of drug rehab, here are seven tips for making sure parents give their child the best chance for treatment success:
- Become an “educated consumer.” Treatment success is an interactive process in which parents have much more to do with the result than is generally realized. Commit yourself to becoming a student of how drug treatment works. The more the parent learns how to use the rehab experience effectively, the greater the chances are for success.
- Avoid the “substitute teacher phenomenon.” “No Mrs. Johnson, our teacher doesn’t make us do that.” By learning everything you can about what your child is learning (or is supposed to be learning) in treatment, you will be less vulnerable to being manipulated by a young person who is trying to cut corners with regard carrying out an effective recovery plan.
- Reset your boundaries. When addiction occurs in a family system, healthy boundaries are replaced by unhealthy boundaries and the family winds up being controlled by the addiction. Family members develop behaviors that ultimately cater to the addiction. The first step towards successful treatment is learning how to undo dynamics that support unhealthy behavior.
Here’s a short video that illustrates what’s going on in a family system when addiction is involved:
- Learn a new language. How you communicate is the first step towards establishing new boundaries. It may feel like a foreign language, but learning to use words like “No!”, or phrases like “I’m sorry, that doesn’t feel like recovery to me” is a simple first step that can have a dramatic impact on how your child responds to treatment.
- Trust your gut. While there is no precise definition for the term “recovery”, you know what feels right and what doesn’t feel right. It’s OK to trust you’re your gut and stand up for your feeling about what is right. Chances are you’re not wrong.
- Follow the plan. One of the biggest reasons for treatment failure is quitting before you’re done. By becoming an educated consumer and learning everything you can about how treatment works, you will have a thorough understanding of what goes into an effective plan for recovery. Don’t become a case that withdraws from the process before completing the plan.
- Recover yourself. When you hear the treatment program talk about the need to “work on your own recovery”, take this seriously. Learn everything you can about what it means to establish your own recovery and do it. It is one of the best things you can do to support your loved one’s recovery.
By Jim Savage. For more information please visit jimsavage.net