Addiction Recovery and Family Support


Without family support sometimes people here have a very, very difficult time because they’re going back into a using environment.  Mum’s on the tranquilizers and anti-depressants, dad’s pissed and you’re still living at home and you’re trying to get cleaned from your drug addiction. How are you going to do it in that environment?

You’re in here with an eating disorder, and you go home to your husband and he says, “You always were fat and you’re always going to be fat.” He doesn’t want to know. He thinks it’s pathetic and he resents having paid for you to come here. You could have gone to a farm or something and done a bit of work for your life and taken a bit of healthy exercise.

People can be so critical to the people they love. The reason they’re like that is because they’ve been trying to change them. We try to change them, change them and change them and they don’t change.

Well okay I’m going to make a suggestion, “Would you like to volunteer to have an appendicitis?” Bottom right, clutch and say ouch.

Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to try a little love. Everybody say ahhhh. Do you think that’s going to help with appendicitis? Okay, we’re going to try a bit of education. What you’ve got is probably some sort of obstruction in the lower bowel, sorry in the bottom end of the small bowel that’s obstructing the lumen of the appendix. Are you getting better?

Okay we’re going to punish you. Give her a smack. Did it work? Well it doesn’t work for addiction either. Love, education and punishment do not work for addiction. Let me say it again, the three things that we all try, love, education and punishment do not work for addiction.

That’s a bit of a shock isn’t it? When we realize that the things we really tried most just don’t work. Well that’s the evidence, it doesn’t work. I’m not saying that love is bad, education is bad, punishment is inappropriate. I’m just saying it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for appendix, it doesn’t work for addiction.

What we’re going to do is to focus on what does work. The three things that work are love, education and punishment but it’s a different form of love. The love that gets us better is not the love that somebody has for us.  It’s the love that we have for someone else.  Meg and I love our son Robin. It did not stop him being an addict and it did not help him with his addiction. What helped him was when he loved somebody else, when he loved another addict, when he took his mind off himself and reached out to help somebody else. That’s what helps addicts. It’s that love, their own love given freely to somebody else that helps them.

The education, is not the education about drugs.will say, “This is a bit of Moroccan Black.” You think the pupils don’t know that? They know it better than they’ve been using it. Well actually nowadays probably has as well but that’s different.

That’s sort of education doesn’t work. You see GPs offices, they’ve in posters about what the children should do. “This is dangerous. That’s dangerous.” The children know that but it doesn’t stop them from doing it.

We had a chap here, he just start himself from treatment and he said, his wife is taking the children away on holiday therefore he must be at home to make sure that the house is okay. Second, he wants to check that he still got a job and thirdly, he has got to check in with his probation officer and therefore he had to go.

The reason that he was here, was because his wife was so fed up with him, she’d actually put an exclusion order on the home. That’s why he was on probation and that’s why he’s about to lose his job. So he’s run away from the place that would have the capacity to get him better because he was frightened and wanted to drink because it’s the only way he knows of how to deal with his feelings.

He’s gone straight out of the place that could help him into total disaster. He’s going to go straight home. He’s going to get drunk. He’s going to get arrested. I imagine he’s in the cells right now.

Now that’s an illness and a tragedy that somebody would be so single minded in the pursuit of alcohol. That he would be so totally oblivious to what the consequences of his behavior are going to be but he doesn’t see it.  It’s not there. Now what is an illness and it’s a terrible condition where we don’t see the consequences of our behavior.

We have the denial. This is not my hand. It’s not in front of my face. That’s a fearful frightening illness that we don’t even see we’ve got it.  That is what is particularly frightening about addiction.

So having a family support makes a tremendous difference. When families understand what we really are up against, they’re not trying to change us. They’re just accepting us the way we are but, and hear this they are giving us the consequences of our behaviour. “Meg has told me if I go gambling again, she is off. We lost our house once, she is not prepared to go through that experience again.” And she said, “if you go back on the Green Bays, you walk.” And I think that’s fine.

Robin, my son, is on the staff here. He has a contract, same as any of the other staff. If you drink, you’re out. He’s well paid because I have to pay the head of the organization well because if I didn’t pay Robin well what’s going to happen if Robin leaves? I’ve got to find the money to pay somebody else. So I pay him exactly the same as anybody else in that job will get. That’s how we run a business property. But if he drinks, or uses drugs again, out.

He gets the consequences of his behaviour. It doesn’t mean I say I don’t love him, of course I love him but I’m going to give him the consequence of his behaviour.  I think that’s the way we have to behave with addicts.