Call the 24/7 Help Line and Speak to a Professional
The case manager will invite you, as a family member, friend, caregives or guardian, to answer questions and express your own concerns as well. Be honest – this is not the time to cover up your loved one’s behaviour. The counsellor needs to get a full picture of the problem to plan and help implement the most effective treatment. It is particularly important for the counsellor to know whether your family member has any serious medical problems or whether you suspect that he or she may have an emotional problem. You may feel embarrassed answering some of these questions or have difficulty completing the interview, but remember, the counsellor is there to help you and your loved one. The treatment team uses the information gathered to recommend the best type of treatment. No one type of treatment is right for everyone; to work, the treatment needs to meet your family member’s individual needs.
After the assessment, a counsellor or case manager is assigned to your family member. The counsellor works with the person (and possibly his or her family) to develop a treatment plan. This plan lists problems, treatment goals, and ways to meet those goals.
Now that your family member is in treatment, things are starting to change. Some of the tension and turmoil that probably were part of your life may be starting to ease. But the first weeks of treatment are stressful. Each family member is adjusting to changes, starting to deal with past conflicts, and establishing new routines. Amid all these changes, it is important that you take good care of yourself – get enough sleep, eat right, rest, exercise, and talk to supportive friends and relatives. Your church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other spiritual organisation also may be a good source of support.
Recovery is not just an adjustment for the person in treatment – it also is an adjustment for you. For the past few years, you may have assumed roles or taken care of tasks that were your loved one’s responsibilities.
Now, as time passes, you and he or she may need to learn new ways of relating to each other and learn different ways of sharing activities and chores. You may need to adjust your life and family relationships to allow for the extra time this involvement will take.
You may have many questions about how your family member will behave in these early stages of recovery. Everyone acts differently. Some people are very happy to be getting treatment at last; others suffer a great deal while they adjust to a new life and attempt to live it without alcohol and drugs. They may be sad, angry or confused. It is important for you to realise that these are normal reactions and to get support for yourself.
Al-Anon is the best-known and most available resource for family members and friends of alcoholics. Al-Anon was founded 50 years ago to provide support for those living with someone with alcoholism. Alateen, for older children and adolescents, was founded somewhat later on. Today, many family members of people who use drugs also participate in Al-Anon or Alateen. These meetings are free and available in most communities.
Your community also may have Nar-Anon meetings. This group was founded for families and friends of those using drugs. Other groups also may be helpful, such as Co-Dependents Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics. The treatment programme should be able to give you schedules of local meetings of all these groups, or you can find contact information in the “Resources” section of this booklet.
Many treatment professionals consider substance use disorders family diseases. To help the whole family recover and cope with the many changes going on, you may be asked to take part in treatment. This approach may involve going to a family education programme or to counselling for families or couples.
Treatment is just the first step to recovery. During this process family members sometimes have mixed feelings. You may feel exhausted, angry, relieved, worried, and afraid that, if this doesn’t work, nothing will. You may feel as if you are walking on eggshells and that if you do something wrong, you may cause your loved one to relapse. It is important for you to remember that you cannot cause a relapse – only the person who takes a drug or picks up a drink is responsible for that.
No one can predict whether your family member will recover, or for how long, but many people who receive treatment do get better. The longer people stay in treatment the more likely they will remain drug and alcohol-free. About half the people who complete treatment for the first time continue to recover. Of course, this means that about half will return to drinking alcohol and using drugs (called a relapse) before they finally give them up for good. Adolescents are even more likely to use drugs or alcohol or both again. It is not uncommon for a person to need to go through treatment more than one time. Often the person needs to return to treatment quickly to prevent a slip or relapse from leading to a chronic problem
You may be having difficulty handling some of your concerns about living with a person who abuses alcohol or drugs. Whether this person is your mom, dad, grandparent, brother, or sister, it is important that you talk about our problems, fears, and concerns with people who are understanding and sympathetic. You may feel that you caused your family member’s substance use disorder or that it is somehow your fault. You may think that if you had behaved better, done better in school, or been different in some way your mom or dad or the person you care about would not drink so much alcohol or take drugs. You did not in any way cause their disease. No one ever causes another person’s substance use disorder. It is nobody’s fault that someone you care about has become ill.
Your family member may have embarrassed you in front of friends, teachers, or another person. You may have stopped bringing friends home or stopped telling your parents about school activities. Now that your relative is in treatment, his or her behaviour should improve.
You may have lived with fighting and stress, and you may have been abused or witnessed other kinds of violence. You may feel very angry and sad because of these experiences. Now you can talk about this and other feelings with your family or the staff at the treatment programme. It will be important for you to share your thoughts and feelings about what has happened. You may want to go to self-help groups such as Al-Anon or Alateen. Some young people find these meetings to be helpful. These groups talk about the three C’s: You didn’t Cause it, you can’t Control it, and you can’t Cure it. Remembering the three C’s can help.
It is important to know that substance use disorders run in families. People who have a blood relative with a substance use disorder are about four times more likely to develop the same disorder than those who do not. This means that you may have inherited a tendency to develop a problem yourself, and you should be careful about drinking alcohol or taking drugs. This information is meant to educate you, not to scare you.
The situation at home will probably improve because your relative is in treatment. Like treatment for people with other illnesses, treatment for substance use disorders is helpful, but not everyone knows or believes it is. A great deal of stigma and shame are still associated with substance use disorders. What and how much you tell your friends or teachers is your decision and your family’s. You may just want to say something like, “My mom is ill, but she will get better and come home soon. Thank you for asking.”
You may choose to help educate some of your close friends about your relative’s illness and his or her progress in treatment. Or, you may decide not to share this information with them. It’s your choice.
Remember, you didn’t create this problem, but you can play an important role in helping everyone heal. Hang in there.
Please note that it is of the utmost importance that the following information is either given to, or emailed to your allocated Counsellor within the first 24 Hours of your loved one having been admitted to ARC:
• Copies of any prescriptions for medication
• Details of any previous Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation or Psychiatric treatment
• Details and medication for any allergies
• Names and contact details for any health care professionals that may have treated your loved one within the past 2 years prior to their admission to ARC
• Details of any specific concerns that you might have
No visitors or phone calls are allowed for the first 10 days. After which visitation may take place on weekends and public holidays from 1:30pm until 5pm. Please ensure that you read and adhere to all of our visitors rules when visiting your family member at ARC. All of the rules are listed on the visitors rules form that you will need to sign before entering the premises. These rules are for your safety as well as the safety of the clients. Please provide your allocated case manager or counsellor with an emailed list of approved visitors and please note that each client is allowed a maximum of 6 visitors at a time. You may have a brief visit with your loved one between 17:00 pm and 17:30 pm just before the family meeting starts on a Tuesday. Please note that you will be asked to promptly end your Tuesday visit at 17:30 when the family meeting starts.
During the course of the clients stay at ARC each member of the family may be asked to draw up a letter indicating the hurt, shame, guilt, anger, and resentment that you as the family member may have felt as a result of your loved one not taking responsibility for their illness. Please include specific examples of aggressive, or abusive behaviour, intolerance or disregard towards responsibilities, self-destructive behaviour and any other behaviour that may be cause for concern or alarm. The letter will need to be addressed to your loved one. This will assist in dismantling denial and to instill the reality of the person’s behaviour and the impact thereof. It is important that you end the family letter off with a message of encouragement and hope. Please have these letters emailed to your counsellor within the first 3 days of your loved ones admission to ARC.
Tuck shop items such as, chocolates, chips, cool drinks, cigarettes, phone cards and toiletries, will be sold if money is available in the clients account. Credit and refunds will not be allowed. Items are purchased from our vending machine which uses a cashless card system that can be topped up via payments made through reception.
Laundry can be picked up for washing by the family but can only return it on weekends during the visitation times so please plan with your family member accordingly. Alternatively, we can facilitate washing of clothes through our laundromat service at a rate per kg, which can be deducted from the tuck shop account.
An RHT is what refers to a Refusal of Hospital Treatment. This is also what is referred to as the process that is followed when a person prematurely decides to end their treatment at ARC. It is important to note that we cannot retain anyone that may not be willing to complete the process. We will, however, make every attempt to contain the client in the event that they decide to RHT. The process includes defining the Risks and Benefits associated with not completing treatment as well as the Risks and Benefits of having completed the program at ARC.
The family dynamic plays an important role in this kind of situation and it is important for family members to define consequences well in advance in the event that your loved one may not decide to complete their treatment.
It is important to note that if you define boundaries and consequences, adhere to them. The wrong message will be sent if you do not. This type of behaviour is called enabling and you will learn more about it during your family education sessions on a Tuesday.
Educational meetings are held for family members every Tuesday at 17:30–18:30. A visitation is allowed with the client 30 minutes before the educational meeting