Reviewing the available options for addiction treatment

Q: I do not think that there is any doubt that our son-in-law is into addictions. Whether it is alcohol, drugs or both, I am not sure.

What I admire is the extent to which our daughter has been working patiently with him to help him understand that all of this is out of control. He needs to do something about it.

They have made the first step and have got him understanding that he has a problem. Now, the question is, what is the next step? Where can my son-in-law and my daughter go to get him the support and encouragement he needs to beat his addictions? I would like some of your thoughts about this.

A: I think it is encouraging that your daughter and your son-in-law have made that crucial first step: admitting that a problem is sifting through their lives and that they need to do something about your son-in-law’s addictions.

You can opt for any number of directions to go in your search for treatment for him but I am going to limit our discussion here to the three most common support programs: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), government-sponsored addictions counsellors and private residential treatment programs.

Whichever program they might choose depends primarily on what they think might help them the best. Enrolling in all three programs is not out of the question.

The advantage of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is structured and run by those who have been there. Everyone involved is either a recovering alcoholic or a drug addict. They know the ropes, they understand how difficult beating addictions can be and they are not afraid to go the extra mile to help your son-in-law fend off the temptations to indulge yet again.

AA is everywhere and often runs a number of groups in the same community. Often those new to recovery from addictions will attend AA meetings daily to get the support they need during those difficult first steps toward sobriety. AA is in the yellow pages or local locations will usually come up with an internet search for “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Finding them is not difficult.

Finding government-sponsored addictions counsellors is more difficult. Many work through mental health clinics.

The real plus in working with addictions counsellors is that they can carry the ball in individual counselling. For many people caught in addictions, the addiction itself is not necessarily the only problem.

In fact, the addiction may serve to camouflage, hide or even treat other mental health problems. Addictions counsellors most often have good working relationships with their mental health colleagues and can call them into support other mental health challenges facing the addict, if necessary.

The easiest way to find residential treatment programs for addictions is through an internet search. Often the programs have write-ups to let perspective clients know what the treatment programs are about. Residential programs have two big advantages. The first is that, by the nature of their structure, treatment is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a significant period of time. Treatment is intense and often that intensity is necessary to support step one in addictions recovery.

The second advantage residential treatment programs have is that they enforce sobriety, at least for the duration of the program. Suddenly addicts are given regular and nutritious dietary supplements, regular sleep routines, and chances to have fun and enjoy interpersonal relations without their addictions running interference. Their lives are suddenly bearable and maybe even enjoyable.

Whichever program your son-in-law and your daughter choose to support his recovery from addiction, please remember that your daughter too needs support.

She can join the equivalent of AA, called Alanon, and meet with others who are trying to support their addicted loved ones. She can also get personal counselling from addictions counsellors and she should be able to find spousal support programs built into the residential treatment programs.

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