Friday, September 28, 2012

You're Taking a Big Chance Not Engaging Families to Participate in Addiction Treatment

Make an effort to reach families of employees who enter treatment for addictive disease. The behavior of the family and concerned persons upon admission of the patient, while seldom discussed, is important to treatment success.

You already know this, but it is extremely easy to postpone or not take initiative to work with the family. Do not assume the treatment program will do it. They may make only one try to engage the family, and typically, this won't cut it. Family denial and pathology necessitates more assertiveness on your part as an EAP. If you want successful treatment of the employee, be short of aggressive in convincing the family to engage with their own recovery and why.

Successful intervention does not mean successful treatment. But, this is what families desperately want. What can families do to contribute to the likelihood of successful treatment after intervention?

Here's a list of Do's and Dont's (Not Exhaustive, But a Good Start)

1) Do Attend The Family Program. The Family Program is an intensive educational/ counseling experience to help participants understand addiction and its treatment,
and to help them curtail provoking and enabling behaviors. Some family members may avoid counseling for themselves after years of "managing" an addicted person at
home. Without the correct information, however, these family members are at risk to continue enabling which may sabotage treatment.

2) Don't Take A Vacation Now. After years of self-denial, some concerned persons see admission of the patient as the best time to take a vacation. They reason, "Now that someone else is in control of my addicted person, I can let go and relax." Such attitudes can reinforce the mistaken belief that control of the alcoholic must continue after treatment, not to mention prevent participation in the Family Program.

3) Don't Phone Frequently. Avoid excessive contact with your addicted family member early in treatment. Such contact can distract the patient and thwart bonding with other patients in the inpatient community. Avoid emotionally charged issues that can wait until after treatment. Many patients have prematurely left treatment due to focusing on outside events that could have easily waited.

4) Do Speak With The Detox Counselor. The detox counselor is an expert at supporting patients and guiding family members in communication. Since family communication dynamics are highly associated with provocative behavior, intervention with this sabotaging pattern is essential. The detox counselor or other person working with families can best steer the family member toward "the right thing to do" to support the addict in treatment.

5) Do Attend Al-Anon. Don't stop attending Al-Anon now that your alcoholic is in treatment. If you haven't started you're overdue. Remember, Al-Anon is for the family, not the alcoholic, and education prior to the first meeting that helps family members stay engaged with Al-Anon is crucial. “De-mystify” 12-step programs. Don’t let family members stumble their way through these programs. If you don’t they will drop out. Alcoholism education video at WorkWell Videos.