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It’s a Family Disease

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Do you love someone who is an alcoholic or an addict? Did you grow up with or are you currently living with someone who is struggling with their addiction? Turning Point of Tampa understands the challenges that come with helping the ones we love, and also the toll it takes on the families trying to help. Addiction is a family disease. It destroys everyone in its path.

Our therapists will address the family dynamics and the impact that addiction has had on them. By integrating a 12-Step philosophy, our holistic approach enables our therapists to address the entire scope of this disease, such as:

Loving someone who suffers from substance abuse, an eating disorder, or any related illness can be just as hard on family as it can be for their loved one. This is why we believe it is important to educate family members on the illness, as well as what it means to recover from it. During treatment, the client and family participate together in order for them to gain a clear understanding of recovery.

Turning Point of Tampa also offers a weekly family support group, free of charge, to any family member of a current or former client. This not only gives family members much-needed ongoing support, but it enables them to continue gaining insight as they navigate through their own recovery.

In addition to the weekly family group, we address family issues head-on in our Intensive Outpatient Program. One night out of their three nights of treatment, our Outpatient clients can invite their family members to attend this educational/process therapy group. The eight-week program focuses on such topics as Relapse Prevention, Family Dynamics, Dual Diagnosis and Codependency. Turning Point of Tampa has found that including the family in the therapeutic process strengthens our clients' recovery.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Have you tried to control your loved one’s drinking/using?
  • Have you tried drinking/using with the alcoholic/addict, in hopes of strengthening the relationship?
  • Have you ever lied to cover up for the alcoholic/addict?
  • Have you put aside your own hobbies, interests and values, for the sake of your loved one’s happiness and health?
  • Have you bailed the alcoholic/addict out of jail or paid their legal fees?
  • Have you ever felt responsible for your loved one’s drinking /using?
  • Have you had difficulty setting and keeping boundaries with your loved one?
  • Have you threatened to leave if the alcoholic/addict didn’t stop, and then did not leave?
  • Do you continue to do things you said you wouldn’t do because you don’t know what else to do?

It can be hard to tell if you are enabling or helping.  Remember that enabling is doing something for someone when they are capable and should be doing it for themselves.

It can be painful to answer some of these questions. Guilt can play a big part in preventing us from taking care of ourselves. We can even lose sight of our own self-worth and needs, while trying to understand the difference between helping and enabling. Caring for a loved one with an addiction is a challenge in and of itself, but we must also take care of ourselves in the process. Turning Point of Tampa believes that addiction is a family disease and we are here to help.

At Turning Point of Tampa, we know that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of the ones you love. If you feel you or someone you love could benefit from this kind of support, please call us at (813) 882-3003 or email us at admissions@tpoftampa.com.

Amy’s Story

I recently spoke with Amy who is the spouse of an alcoholic physician that sought treatment for his alcoholism at Turning Point. I wanted to get the lowdown on her experience in recovering from an alcoholic spouse. It was a very educational experience! As a recovering drinker myself, I learned what dealing with us drinkers in our active addiction is like, from the other person’s perspective.

It’s not pretty.

Currently, Amy is a responsible member of the community she lives in and is very comfortable with who she is today, but it wasn’t always like that.

Before she and her husband sought help, her life consisted of reacting to her husband’s disease, period. That was it. The alcoholic acts, the co-dependent reacts.

She was in constant fear that he would get a DUI with the kids in the car, or that he would lose his livelihood if he injured or killed a patient, or any other number of things that people living with active addiction worry about.
Her husband, however, convinced her that treatment was not an option for him, that if it were found out that he had a drinking problem, he would lose his career.

After a DUI arrest with a minor accident, he had a breathalyzer installed on his car, and the results went to a monitoring company 5 times per day. Turns out he was a home drinker, though, AND Amy was unable to tell when he was drunk. Because of that, the monitor on the car was ineffective and his drinking progressed.

After another close call, Amy had had enough. She told him that if she had to call DCF, he would not see his kids again. With that, he accepted defeat and the treatment option at Turning Point.

Getting help in Family Group was a kind of spiritual awakening for Amy, relieved that she could finally confide what she and her kids had been through to other people that really understood. For Amy, in Family Group there was support and understanding and….healing.

She says she was actually as sick as he was, just not drunk. It took her a long time to get there and has taken a while to get out. Their divorce was sealed during his drinking career, but Amy has grown through this process; she still cares about him, her recovery and the people in her life.

For more information, Amy also pointed me to the book How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics.

Additionally, Amy says that the principles she has learned through her experience at Turning Point help her in her everyday life, dealing with her employees, her kids and ex-husband (currently sober with no relapses for three years now).
In conclusion:

Our goal is always to provide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step recovery, in tandem with quality individual therapy and groups. We have been doing Licensed Residential, Day/PHP, and Intensive Outpatient treatment in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003, 800-397-3006 or admissions@tpoftampa.com.
-John B.

Useful Community Resources:

Al-Anon: www.al-anon.org
Alateen: www.al-anon.org (under Alateen Tab)
Nar-Anon: www.nar-anon.org
Codependency Anonymous: www.coda.org