Trust can be strained or broken by an addiction. An addict often fails to follow through on well-intended promises, is dishonest, and engages in risky behaviors that can harm the addict and their loved ones. Secretiveness and hiding are common to those caught up in addiction and will lead an individual to do things uncharacteristic of their true nature. Rebuilding relationships requires trust.

The risks and detrimental effects of alcohol abuse by young adults under the age of 25 can have life-long consequences.  In a recent survey, nearly 80% of 17-18 year olds had consumed alcohol, with over 47% of these 17-18 year olds using alcohol regularly.

To help your young adult/teenager get the fullest from life, it is important to have an honest discussion about alcohol and its effects.  But what do you say and how do you do it? Here is a helpful guide on how to talk to your teenager about drinking.

First, don’t expect to only have one big discussion on alcohol, the subject should come up many times as your child grows.  Start young by creating regular, open, honest communications with your child.  Be casual and relaxed.  Be open to what your teen says, truly listen.  Keep your emotions in check (remember deep breaths if you hear something upsetting or irritating).  If your child feels comfortable talking with you, your discussions will be more effective.

Once you have good regular communications, you can begin to discuss alcohol.

  • Start with asking what your teen thinks about alcohol?  What does s/he know about it?  If your teen has used alcohol, calmly asked what they thought? Why they used it?  What was the result?
  • Share facts about alcohol.  It is a powerful drug.  Regular drinking by teenagers can create many problems:  teens have the highest rate of traffic accidents and alcohol use increases these risks; drinking affects coordination, the ability to think and make decisions; teens who drink are more likely to be the victim of violence; as well as experience longer term injury or damage to their brain. Point out the teen brain is still developing and alcohol affects normal development.
  • Talk about any perceived attractions or myths about drinking:  Does your teen feel peer pressure to drink?  Do they think drinking will let them be more social or fit in better?  Discuss alcohol commercials on TV and ads in magazines, where everyone is fit, beautiful, having fun.  What do they think alcohol will do or does do for them?
  • Point out that alcohol is a depressant and although it may seem to provide happy or pleasant feelings, these feelings don’t last and often people feel down, sad or even depressed after drinking.
  • Drinking is illegal, and there are serious consequences for teens arrested for drinking alcohol.
  • Be prepared to discuss your own drinking and history.  Your teen will likely ask.  Even if they don’t, it is best if you volunteer things you learned about drinking.  Share consequences you have experienced from drinking.
  • Also discuss any family history with drinking. If you have a family history of alcoholism, let your teen know that this means s/he is much more likely to become addicted, its in the family genes.
  • Ask about your teen’s friends.  What do they think about drinking or drugs?  Do they drink? Has your teen had any experience with people drinking?

All this may not happen in one conversation.  Always thank your child for the talk and for sharing. Appreciate their insights and their honesty. It is important to let them speak and feel open with you, but do not blur the lines on the parent/child relationship. Never allow your teenager to drinking at your house. It is illegal and it portrays the wrong message. Never drink with your teenager, even at family gatherings, its illegal, inappropriate, and damaging to their health.

Finally, be a role model.  Your actions speak much louder to your teen than words. If you drink, do so in moderation.  When discussing alcohol, don’t state it is good or helpful.  Also emphasize that for those older than 21 and particularly over 25 experience less brain impairment from alcohol.  Discuss the rules you have for yourself: never drinking and driving, setting limits on your own drinking either by quantity or days or amount of time, only drinking with friends or family, etc.

If you know or suspect your teen has a problem with alcohol, there are resources available that can help you and your teen. Early interventions are proven to be a helpful resource for many teenagers. If your teenager is over 18 years old, you may schedule an appointment with New Hope Recovery Center for a confidential assessment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about young adults and addiction? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 

Warning Signs Your Teen is Drinking Alcohol Although drinking in moderation can be safe for adults, drinking by anyone under 21 can be a serious issue and should not be ignored, dismissed or minimized.  There are, of course, the immediate risks and harms a young adult may experience from drinking alcohol: they are more likely to have driving accidents, experience death from alcohol poisoning (excessive drinking), have violent behavior, be the victim of violent crime, to have unprotected sex, and to have depression and anxiety.

Long Term Impact of Alcohol and Drug Use on Emerging Adults Emerging Adulthood, the period of life from approximately age 18 to the late 20's, is not only a critical time for psychological and social development, but also for physical brain development. Contrary to a popular assumption that the brain is mature by the age of 18, recent studies have shown that profound brain growth and change still occur during Emerging Adulthood. [Studies]  The heavy use of drugs and alcohol during this time frame can inhibit a person’s brain development and have long term consequences.

Emerging Adults – Time of Stress, Change, and Possibly Addiction The period after high school through the late 20's is now considered a unique developmental phase, Emerging Adulthood.  For Emerging Adults life is typically filled with an unprecedented amount of change and a time for asking many deeply-personal life questions. Robin Marantz Henig discusses some of these changes in her New York Times Magazine article. Emerging Adults frequently change residences (slightly more than 30% move every year); change jobs (averaging seven jobs during their 20's these changes can lead to high levels of stress and anxiety.)

5 Things Parents Need to Know About Prescription Drug Abuse Parents of Emerging Adults (ages 18-late 20′s) are important partners in the prevention of drug abuse. In New Hope Recovery Center’s continuing efforts to assist parents, we want to pay special attention to a serious problem impacting Emerging Adults: prescription drug abuse which is the intentional use of medication without a prescription.  Parents may not be unaware of how serious this problem has become, so we want to share 5 must-know facts for parents of Emerging Adults.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.  Students and emerging adults may not always be able to quickly identify and correct mistakes or difficulties they face. They also are more susceptible to peer pressure or having their viewpoints shaped by outside influences. For this reason, parents need to be closely aware of what is happening in their young adult’s life.

Fighting Peer Pressure: 3 Ways To Limit Addiction Risk in Young Adults Do you remember growing up and wanting to be liked and included in your peer group?  One of the hardest parts of growing up is feeling excluded from peer groups and while this can be challenging, it is also a normal part of the development of an Emerging Adult.  If it did not come naturally, you might remember changing your attitudes, values or behaviors to belong a certain peer group, which is exactly where your Emerging Adult may be developmentally.

 

Love and relationship addiction are part of the behavioral or process addictions.  Like its cousins, food addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, shopping and spending addiction, love addiction describes a set of behaviors and emotions that slowly progress and become unmanageable, often leaving an affected person depressed and suicidal.  In a society that glorifies love and romance, it is often difficult to know when one has crossed the line and is trapped in the undertow of this subtle but damaging process addiction.

Although sex and love addiction are often linked together, many experts agree that sex, romance and relationship addiction are actually three separate addictions.  While they share many of the same signs and symptoms, love and relationship addictions are often not as blatant and can be passed off as non-problematic, even by mental health professionals.  In addition, it is important to note that romance and relationship addiction are not the same as an addictive relationship, but rather romance and relationship addicts tend to form addictive relationships, as do other types of addicts.

Some of the hallmarks of love and romance addiction are as follows:

  1. Excessive neediness within relationships
  2. Excessive fantasizing about the object of one's affection (to the point of not being able to think of much else)
  3. Giving up one's own needs, opinions, desires and ideas in order to please the partner and out of fear of being emotionally abandoned
  4. Not being able to let go of a relationship or accept that it's over
  5. Placing physical attraction and/or sexual chemistry as a priority when considering a relationship with someone
  6. Feeling as if one's life is over and/or considering or attempting suicide when a relationship ends
  7. Inability to be alone, feeling uncomfortable in solitude or without a relationship
  8. Romantic intrigue, which is defined as flirting, innuendo or other manipulative behaviors designed to "hook" someone in
  9. Constantly pursuing and obsessing over emotionally unavailable people
  10. Neglecting family, friends, work or school because of a relationship

Many love addicts suffer from trauma or childhood abandonment issues.  Because these bonds were never properly formed or were prematurely cut off, an individual does not have a sense of secure attachment within him or herself and feels compelled to seek one out elsewhere.  The obsession with unavailable people is often a replaying of a familiar yet painful relationship within one's family of origin.  In addition, love and romance addicts have chosen dysfunctional relationship patterns as a "drug of choice" by which to blunt or dull boredom, psychological pain, depression, fears of abandonment and/or low self esteem.  Left untreated, like the chemical addictions, love and romance addiction will progress and worsen over time.  A preoccupation with fantasy leads to altogether real life consequences, such as the loss of meaningful relationships (both romantic and platonic), loss of job, financial difficulties and poor physical health.

Recovery from love and relationship addiction focuses on reclaiming one's sense of self, divorcing one's identity from his or her relationship status, defining healthy sexuality and learning how to cope with painful emotions.  Often a period of celibacy or abstaining from romantic relationships is necessary for a period of time in order to re-establish a healthy baseline of emotional functioning.  Many love and relationship addicts find a great deal of help with the use of a 12- Step program such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) or Codependents Anonymous (CODA).  Engaging in longer-term individual and group psychotherapy can also help tremendously with learning how to have healthy boundaries and confront one's fear of loss.

New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse treatment facility, but some people with an alcohol or drug addiction also suffer from some form of process addiction as well. We provide groups, counseling, and formulate treatment plans in order to address the process addictions while in treatment for the substance.

If you or someone you know struggles with a form of addiction, please call New Hope Recovery Center 773.883.3916 to talk to someone about what type of options there are for treatment. All calls and assessments are completely confidential. If you feel more comfortable emailing you may email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

The holiday season is stressful time for everyone. In this audio interview from Big Oldies 93.7 Dial-a-Doc, Charles Brookover MS, LCPC, CADC speaks about how to best handle holiday gatherings and properly set your expectations for holiday celebrations. Charlie Brookover works at FHN Family Counseling Center - Jo Daviess County at 300 Summit Street Galena, IL 61036.

FHN Website: http://www.fhn.org/

FHN Contact Number: 815-777-2836 (Galena Location)

 

The stages of change are a conceptualization that change is not a singular event; rather it is a series of steps someone progresses through.  The idea can be applied to any number of behaviors but it is especially helpful to view it through the lens of addiction.  Change is difficult.  People get comfortable with where they are at and it is much easier to stay immersed in that life, even if it is a destructive and detrimental one.  Learning more about how change comes about can be a helpful push in raising self-awareness and normalizing the recovery process.

Precontemplation

In this first stage the person affected by addiction does not see their problem and therefore does not have any consideration for changing.  Loved ones, coworkers, and health professionals may perceive the need for change but the person with the addiction feels safe with the status quo so they are resistant to recognizing the problem. They will most likely justify their behavior because they don’t see their actions as problematic.  The most viable option for others during this stage is to try to raise awareness about the risks of the problem.  The hope is that by expressing doubts and increasing education on the topic it will assist the person in becoming more self-aware about their addiction and consider changing.

Contemplation

If the person starts to consider change they have moved from precontemplation to contemplation.  The individual might start to notice that they have a problem but by in large they are still ambivalent about actual change.  They may be experiencing anxiety and avoidance about the idea of changing.  A common tool to address the ambivalence surrounding change in this stage is to write out or discuss the pros and cons about changing.  This may be enough to tip the scales for the individual if they believe the benefits outweigh the costs. Some people spend their entire lives in the contemplation stage because they do not see the costs as costly enough.  At the very minimum it will allow for a discussion about where the individual sees barriers to change.

Image Credit Found Below.

Preparation

This stage is evident once the individual makes a conscious decision to do something to change.  This stage is crucial and often overlooked because people jump right into action without realizing the energy and commitment it will require to change.  An effective preparation stage involves reaching out for help and researching worthwhile options of assistance.  It is essential to address the individual’s anxiety about change because during this stage the idea of changing becomes more concrete and it can be overwhelming.

Action

When the individual is ready to put their plan into place and pursue it they are actively working towards change.  This overt effort comes down to willpower and determination by the individual.  If the individual truly does not want to change they will revert back to an earlier stage, often contemplation.  Change is uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing but if the individual can receive proper support while addressing their addiction real change may start to come about.  It is important to recognize even the smallest of changes because seeing progress can be motivation for continued improvement.

Maintenance

The ongoing goal of this stage is to sustain the positive change in the individual’s life long term.  Change is fluid and therefore it is important for the individual to have an awareness of their triggers and subsequent coping mechanisms in order to address new challenges as they arise.  Acquiring new skills to avoid relapse is ongoing however relapse does still occur.  Relapse can be discouraging but it is not the end of the road.  No matter how spiraling the relapse may be a person can re-enter the cycle at any stage of change.  The knowledge and insight gained about the addiction is not erased in a relapse and therefore all is not lost.  Recovery is life-long and the path is not straight and narrow, there are detours.  It is helpful to continuously be mindful of one’s needs in order to not become complacent.  Working an active recovery program by staying connected with a sober network are good tools for achieving long term sobriety.

No matter which of the five stages you or a loved one are currently in, New Hope Recovery Center can be a resource and an agent for change.  Please call for more information 1-888-707-4673.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Image Credited to: Adult Meducation. American Society on Aging and American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Foundation; adapted from DiClemente and Prochaska, 1998. Photo. <http://www.adultmeducation.com/FacilitatingBehaviorChange.html>

Read related posts about Addiction:

Family Roles and Addiction

Addiction and Family: Acceptance as a Step Towards Healing in Treatment

Addiction: Shame, Guilt & Dodgeball

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 1)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 2)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 3)

New Hope Recovery Center was featured on the OWN Network.

Photo Credit: www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life

Iyanla: Fix My Secret Addiction

About the episode: Life coach Iyanla Vanzant travels to  Chicago to help Shannon, a 28-year-old crystal meth addict who is in denial  about the full extent and destructive power of his addiction. Shannon's drug  abuse has led to three overdoses as well as high-risk sex, and it threatens his  life unless he can accept the gravity of the situation and get help. Iyanla also  works with Shannon's mother, father and sister, who are concerned about him but,  in many ways, have enabled his downward spiral by supporting him financially  while he was hitting rock bottom. Before Shannon can get back on track, Iyanla  must get him to come clean to himself and his family about the full extent of  his addiction. Only after this happens can the mistrust and lies stop and the  healing begin. Iyanla shows Shannon a path to a brighter future, but ultimately  it us up to him whether he can overcome his addiction.
Read more: http://www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life/Iyanla-Fix-My-Secret-Addiction#ixzz2lPienO4r

“Acceptance is not approval.” This saying reverberates through the rooms of 12-step meetings. The saying is common because acceptance is difficult to understand and not easy to achieve.  In fact, it may be easier to understand what acceptance is not: it is not approval, or forgiveness, or weakness.  It is: agreeing with reality AS IT IS, and agreeing to the past AS IT WAS, instead of fighting, denying, regretting or otherwise wasting energy on the unchangeable.  We don’t have to like reality or the past, but to be healthy we need to learn to accept them.

Acceptance is an important part of drug or alcohol addiction treatment and recovery. Gaining acceptance means overcoming denial and getting past emotional barriers such as anger and fear that keep a person from seeing clearly that they or their loved one has a disease called addiction.  For a family member or loved one of an addict, coming to terms with the addiction involves: 1) developing an understanding that addiction is a family disease; 2) gaining acceptance that as a loved one of an addicted person you have been affected by the disease; and 3) because you have been affected, accepting you will need your own recovery.

Acceptance also means understanding that you are powerless over the decisions of others. The first step of the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and other drugs and that our lives had become unmanageable”. Loved ones of an addicted person are powerless over the addict’s decision to get or stay sober. Family members often have a very strong emotional response to the choices an addicted person makes when they are abusing alcohol and/or drugs and the resulting consequences. This is understandable because these choices and consequences have an impact on everyone.

Many family members, not knowing what else to do, try to control the behaviors or actions of the addicted person.  This usually leads to conflict with and defensiveness from the addict. The resulting conflicts and divisions in relationships often lead to unhealthy behaviors throughout the family.   Instead trying to control, it is often best for family members to learn to detach and allow the addicted person to experience the natural consequences of their choices, including the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs.  By experiencing these consequences, the addict often begins to see and accept their addiction.

In addition to an addict’s frequent denial of their disease, family members often have their own denial based on the belief that they aren't the ones with the problem. While they may not be addicted to alcohol or drugs, they are still impacted by the behaviors and choices of the addicted person, including the consequences and problems caused by the addict’s decisions and actions. It is helpful for each family member to identify how the addicted person’s abuse of alcohol and/or drugs has affected them and to seek help in healing themselves.

An excellent guide toward Acceptance is to remember the 3 C’s of Al-anon: You didn’t Cause it, You can’t Cure it and You can’t Control it. Having acceptance of these basic principles and engaging in a family recovery program and/or your own recovery program can lead to healing yourself and your relationships.

If your addicted loved one is in an addiction treatment facility (or rehab), be sure to participate in all family activities sponsored by the addiction treatment center.  If you or your loved one is looking to enter rehab, look for a treatment program that includes family in the treatment.  At New Hope Recovery Center we involve family and loved ones our addiction treatment through family group days as well as regular counselor sessions with family/loved ones and the client.

If you or your loved one is seeking treatment for drug, alcohol or other addiction, please contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.  We are located on the Northside of Chicago and have treated clients from across the country.

Contributing Writer for New Hope Recovery Center: Mauri Hackett CRADC

For other articles helpful to family and friends about addiction, please see:

Addicted Loved One? 5 Common Triggers You Can Help Avoid

Forgiveness: Healing from Addiction

Alcohol or Drug Addiction? Healthy Boundaries for Parents

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 1 of 3)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 2 of 3)

Restoring Trust Damaged by Addiction (Part 3 of 3)

Chicago drug and alcohol addiction treatmentThere are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

The term Latino is used to describe all those whose language that are derived from Latin including Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and Romanian.  The word Hispanic identifies the indigenous people who inhabit the islands of the Sea of Hispaniola, i.e. Cuban, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.  The Latino/Hispanic communities are multiracial, multicultural, and primarily Catholic.  Some have indigenous spiritual beliefs and customs, which are practiced and incorporated into Catholicism.

There are many differences in culture, Spanish dialects, customs, traditions, music, art and foods from one community to another. Each community has a different reason for migrating to the United States and establishing themselves: political freedom, political asylum, economics, education and perceived opportunities. An example of this is Puerto Ricans are natural born citizens while Cubans are protected by political asylum.  Another interesting difference is with national sports, which differ as well in each country of origin.  While the Caribbean islands enjoy baseball, Central America and South America are passionate about soccer.

Some of these communities have been simulating and blending into mainstream America for generations and have gone through several transitions.  One of the best examples is the Mexican community who during the sixties identified themselves as Mexican American, Chicano, Tex Mex or Tejano. This depended on what region of the United States they lived or the movement they represented.  Currently they consider themselves Mexicans.

Despite these differences, Spanish communities share several important common themes:

  • Strong family ties
  • Strong work ethics
  • Strong religious beliefs

A 12-step program, such as Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous, is beneficial and effective in helping the Spanish communities for several reasons:

  1. The 12-step home group becomes a tight knit family.
  2. The 12-Step fellowship becomes the extended family.
  3. The Sponsor/Sponsee relationship is considered sacred.  The term “Padrino” (meaning Godfather) is respectfully used when speaking of one’s sponsor.
  4. Spanish spiritual/religious belief systems coincide with the 12-step concept of a higher power.

Hispanic/Latino males tend to have difficulty sharing their emotions and/or concerns openly and prefer to resolve their problems on their own.  Many will seek help from a spiritualist before visiting a therapist, counselor or entering treatment.  Spanish 12-step meetings play a significant role for Hispanic/Latino alcoholic and/or addicted drug user. These meetings provide a safe environment where they can express their true thoughts and feelings without judgment.

Despite the variety of ethnicity, religious beliefs, racial makeups, traditions, specific customs and other diversities among the Spanish communities, the commonalities shared by the groups are particularly strong when treating addiction.  The fellowship and camaraderie of the 12-step program seems to be very familiar to the Hispanic/Latino’s own family structure, including the extended family - hence why the 12-step program works so well with the Hispanic and Latino communities.

New Hope Recovery Center works from a 12-step model and strongly believes in the importance of community in treating alcohol and drug addiction.  We create a home-like environment for the healing of our clients.  Our caring diverse staff is culturally sensitive when treating members of the Hispanic and Latino communities.  If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or via email at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

In recovery for drug and alcohol addiction, unresolved issues such as grief, conflicts, and loss can resurface and create the potential for relapse.  Forgiveness by both the recovering addict/alcoholic and their loved ones is central to overcoming the conflicts and disillusionment that may exist in the relationship.  It can be difficult for the loved one of a recovering person to let go of past hurts, blame and disappointments.  They may feel the addictive person “chose” drugs or alcohol over the relationship.  It is also very likely that the behavior of the addict or alcoholic resulted in harmful consequences to both the recovering addict and their loved ones.

To restore a relationship, it is crucial that issues from the past be resolved and not carried forward into the future.   Understanding and acceptance are a good place to start.  There are 3 key factors in implementing forgiveness in recovery.

1.  Understanding Addiction:  Understanding that addiction is a disease can help everyone affected by addiction gain perspective on why an addict continues to use in spite of the serious consequences to themselves and their loved ones. It is important to understand the compulsion to use, how addiction erodes a person’s will, impairs their thinking and negatively affects their behavior.  Addiction causes a person to behave in ways uncharacteristic of their true selves.

The recovering person must also understand the nature of addiction in order to deal with the very common feelings of shame, inadequacy, and self-judgment.  Loved ones can benefit from understanding that these emotional states may affect the way the person in recovery deals with others.  Shame, inadequacy and negative self-judgment may cause a disconnect in the relationship leading to a breakdown of communication and feelings of alienation.  These heavy emotional feelings may also be emotional triggers that could lead to a desire to begin using again in order to numb from the emotional pain.

2.  Accept Reality:  Accepting reality as it truly is begins the next step toward forgiveness. Accepting your loved one as they truly are and the actual true state of the relationship is very beneficial.  We can get stuck in the fantasy of how we wish things were.  This can lead to feeling diminished, defeated or angry.  This wishful fantasy sets us up to never be happy and instead we live in disappointment and regret.   Although not easy, it is possible (and critical to your long term health) to accept the reality that you or your loved one has a disease called addiction.  This disease is part, but not all of, who a person is.  Look for the good qualities you and your loved one have and the positive aspects of your relationship then build on these good things.  This will help far more than focusing on deficits and shortcomings and imagining how you wish things could be.  Remember: “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

For the person in recovery, forgiving oneself can be very difficult. Letting yourself move away from the transgressions of the past into your sober future with a renewed sense of self is imperative.  Learn from your past and vow not to repeat it, but let go of the emotional baggage that comes with reliving past mistakes. Through step-work you will be able to take a fearless moral inventory, make amends to others, and promptly admit it when future mistakes are made. Trust this process….it can help you heal if you are willing to forgive yourself.

3.  Letting Go of Resentments:  Another part of step work and recovery is letting go of resentments.  A major cause of conflict in relationships is resentment. Resentment is defined as “indignation or ill will felt as a result of a real or imagined grievance.” Letting go of resentments is also necessary to forgive. Here are steps to do that:  1) Identify the resentment, 2) determine what it will take to work towards a resolution that will allow all parties to leave the grievance in the past, and 3) move forward in the relationship without rehashing the past.

All relationships are influenced by mutual experiences. Any relationship that is affected by the consequences of addiction will no doubt have some painful and negative experiences that contribute to the current state of the relationship. It is important to create and build on new positive experiences. Intentionally spend time with the each other remembering why you care for and value each other. Enjoy and rediscover each other as you move into this new stage of sober life. In time, with positive experiences, restored health, and continued sobriety you can achieve a state of forgiveness.

If you are affected by addiction, please contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3912 or via email at info@new-hope-recovery for help.  We have seen many relationships survive and thrive following treatment.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center Lesbian CoupleAlcohol and drug abuse is a major concern for individuals who identify as lesbian. A report published by SAMHSA in 2011 found people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are significantly more likely than the general population to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. This same study found lesbians are significantly more likely than heterosexual women to drink alcohol heavily. Another study published in 2004 from the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services noted the incidence of substance abuse among lesbians is far higher than their heterosexual peers.

Lesbians struggling with addiction face unique barriers that are critical to understand and address in treatment.   The following five themes highlight some of these key barriers:

(1)   Internalized Shame & Guilt: Addiction is a disease that coincides with tremendous shame and guilt. Many lesbians already struggle with internalized shame and guilt surrounding their sexuality, possibly having experienced rejection from family or friends, or simply as a result of living as a minority in today’s society rampant with hetero-sexist messages. Dealing with both their addiction and sexual orientation can feel like a double whammy, piling shame on top of shame.

(2)   Self-Medication: It is not uncommon for lesbians to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate or numb themselves from feelings (such as inadequacy, shame, isolation, abandonment, sadness or anger) resulting from their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, this coping mechanism eventually backfires and the “solution” to the problem becomes worse than the problem itself. Drinking or using drugs to numb shame or other feelings may provide some temporary relief, but ultimately this coping strategy creates new problems and does nothing to resolve the feelings one tries to numb away.

(3)   Social Scene: The LGBT social scene is centralized in bars and clubs. Often, lesbians feel there is no way to be sober and remain social in the lesbian community. It is important to understand that the lesbian social scene provided in bars and clubs has specific meaning and importance. These places provide one of the only spaces where lesbians feel a sense of total acceptance, confident to fully be who they are, and allowed to safely and openly to show affection to loved ones.

(4)   “You’re Only as Sick as Your Secrets”: Honesty is one of the key principles of recovery. Lesbians may feel unsafe or uncomfortable outing themselves in treatment centers or 12-step meetings. The inability to express one’s true self can inhibit an individual’s ability to fully recover in mind, body, and spirit. Addiction treatment programs specializing in LGBT-specific concerns can offer lesbians struggling with drug or alcohol addiction a safe and supportive space in which they can fully heal and recover.

(5)   Spirituality vs. Religion: There is a common misconception that the spiritual foundation of 12-step programs is religious. This misconception may create a significant barrier to recovery. The idea of being forced back into religion could instill major resistance in lesbians whose religious upbringings may have been filled with shame, guilt, fear and rejection. It is important that addiction treatment programs educate lesbians about the difference between spirituality and religion, and provide an open setting for lesbians to identify their own conception of spirituality and a loving and accepting higher power.

Treatment is about working with the whole person and New Hope Recovery Center embraces inclusion, acceptance, and understanding. NHRC creates a safe and self-affirming space for lesbians with addiction issues. Contact NHRC for information about our new program, New Hope with Pride, designed specifically for the LGBTQI person suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs. Call New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or email us at info@new-hope-recovery.com.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

chicago rehabPart 3 – Overcoming Shame and Guilt

As discussed in the two previous articles, trust can be strained or broken by an addiction.  Restoring the trust needed to rebuild relationships takes time.   The first two steps to restore trust are to be honest and have open, frequent communication.  The next two steps are for all parties to  accept accountability and set clear and healthy boundaries.  The final step is to understand and handle any shame and guilt.

Shame and Guilt:  With addiction and recovery, there can be feelings of shame and guilt for both loved ones and the recovering person. The recovering addict may feel ashamed or guilty for past actions and mistakes made while using.  This shame and guilt can make it difficult for the recovering person to be honest about past and current actions.  As mentioned previously, dishonesty can lead to further distrust.

Loved ones may blame themselves for not recognizing the addiction sooner or not acting sooner or more decisively to stop the person from using.  Loved ones must understand that the decision to stop using must come from the addict.  Attempts to control are often unsuccessful.  Loved ones may feel shame or guilt about how they responded or didn’t respond to the addiction and the addict.  They must work to understand their own shame and guilt as well as the shame and guilt the recovering addict may feel.

Frequently after an addict’s use comes to light, family members or loved ones who were not aware of the extent of the addiction may ask “If I didn’t know this, what else don’t I know?”  This doubt reinforces distrust of the recovering addict and can also cause the loved ones to doubt themselves and their own abilities.

Forgiveness:  Everyone must allow for forgiveness of self and others.  Shame and guilt can undermine the recovering person and contribute to shame-based thinking and behavior, including relapse.  Overcoming feelings of shame and guilt are necessary for a person to feel they are worth the effort of recovery and restore their self-esteem.  Loved ones should forgive themselves for any actions they took or did not take.  They should also work to understand the disease of addiction so they can better determine the extent that it was controlling the recovering addict’s previous behavior.  Both the recovering person and loved ones should avoid judgment, punitive recourse, and shaming as they work to rebuild their relationship and mutual trust.

By being honest and having more frequent and open communication, being accountable and setting healthy boundaries and by openly dealing with any shame and guilt, trust can be built more quickly and with more confidence.  Although requiring work, restoring trust is much better than living in a relationship of distrust and alienation, where fear and worry govern. The benefits to the relationship will be increased trust and closeness as well as increased self-esteem and self-belief.

New Hope Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Chicago.  We lovingly treat those addicted as well as their family and friends.  We understand that addiction is truly a family disease and that everyone affected must receive the support and guidance needed to heal from its consequences.  If you or someone you love has had their life negatively impacted by drugs or alcohol, please call us at 773-883-3916 or via email at info@new-hope-recovery.com.