October 6, 2007
Beginning of the Road
By Dane Sorensen
It has been over two months since my family intervened and our daughter entered rehab at Hazelden. She is making progress and has a job teaching violin while still living at Hazelden's Fellowship Club in St. Paul. She continues to go to Narcotics Anonymous as well as in-house groups at Fellowship. Our hopes are high that she will continue to make good decisions and eventually phase out of Fellowship Club and into an independent life.
I have appreciated the kind words and thoughts of those who have mentioned this series of articles on addiction. People I never would have imagined that have family members with problems have told me about their similar experiences. I wish them all the best in using detached love on their addicted family member.
If I had to narrow down my advice to someone who has an addictive family member it is to intervene quickly. Do not take up the task of protecting this person from the consequences of addiction. Do not lie to their boss when they are home sick with the stomach flu especially if the truth is that they are on a bender or stoned on drugs. Do not give them money or a place to stay. Do not pay their rent or loan them money. Confront them head on. Arrange an intervention, as my family did, and convince them to go into treatment. Just remember it takes planning. If they do not have health insurance to cover an expensive program like Hazelden, there are other options through the county. The state of Minnesota requires all counties to offer and pay for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. It is called Rule 25 and a good place to start is with the St. Louis Health and Human Services. The number to call in Ely is 365-8220. Make sure to ask for information about Rule 25 assessments and services. Unfortunately, the amount of information on the Internet about Rule 25 is difficult to find and extremely vague.
I highly recommend that both the addict and the family seek group help. Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are for the addicted person and Al-Anon for the family is a good start. These groups use the 12-step program and all have a solid religious foundation to them. There is also Ala-Teen for young adults. Ely has a several AA groups and a couple of Al-Anon groups, but I do not know of any local groups for NA.
There are non-religious alternatives, but you will have to be in a big city if you wish to join one of their groups. The biggest non-religious organization for addicts and alcoholics is Rational Recovery and their web site is http://www.rational.org/recovery/.
Another secular group for alcoholics is Women for Sobriety. The late Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, founded this group. When she was accepted into a graduate program she went on a six-month drunk. Eventually, she wised up and started Women for Sobriety, as well as getting her Ph.D. Women for Sobriety accepts alcoholism as a physical disease, as does AA and NA. The website for Women for Sobriety is http://www.womenforsobriety.org/. The recovery group SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) does not see addiction as a disease. Smart members are taught to recognize the emotional pattern that precedes drinking or drug use and concentrate on alternative motivation and behavior. SMART can be found on the web at http://www.smartrecovery.org/.
Some of these organizations have online groups that can be helpful for those who are not geographically close to group meetings. The commonality of all groups is that you will find help from fellow human beings that all recognize the pain and suffering caused by addiction. As I saw at Hazelden, the entire family suffers as well as the addicted member and all need help.
The one thing that astounded me when I was at the Hazelden Family Program was the wasted years and the unnecessary pain that many families went through. Do not be an enabler for someone who has an addiction. It is best to confront. Offer to take them in for rehab and stop enabling their life of addiction. The hope of no more wasted years is something to fight for. That is what we did and I wish anyone who must deal with addiction the best of luck in doing the same.
Below are a list of web sites with more information on intervention and rehab.
http://portaltools.na.org/portaltools/MeetingLoc/ for NA meetings
http://www.area35.org/cgi-bin/csvsearch.pl?search=Ely for AA meetings
http://www.nextstepradio.com/ Berk Lewis radio program online