A Family Finds Their Way to Recovery through the BALM Program
A Family Finds Their Way to Recovery with the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Program
By Beverly A Buncher, MA, PCC, CBFRLC, CTPC
When a loved one struggles with substances or other use disorders or mental health challenges, family members often find themselves in a whirlwind of upset, worry and confusion. This article describes the journey of Connie and Bill as they navigate the struggles and recovery of their son John, finally finding a family recovery program that helps them find a way to help themselves and their son.
College days threaten to destroy a young man and his family
Connie is a mom of 2 sons. One struggled with substances and the other didn’t. Ever since she found out about her older son John’s struggles, all of her attention and emotional energy became focused on trying to help him. Meanwhile, her younger son Garrett repeatedly asked her to spend time with him.
“All you ever think or talk about is John,” he used to say. “Don’t I matter at all?”
Connie knew he was right, but what was she supposed to do? She worried nonstop about John, ever since he got in with the wrong crowd at college. First semester grades were low, as they often are with freshmen, so she wasn’t too worried. But by the time he got to second semester, he crashed and burned.
She and her husband tried everything they could think of: threatening him, screaming, yelling and begging, followed by grounding him, hiding his car keys, and hiding his phone.
Nothing worked. Nothing helped.
Connie helplessly watched as her son spiraled out of control.
He was on probation sophomore year, and was suspended for use of illegal substances by spring of that year.
Suspension Leads to Treatment Admission
Soon after his suspension, John’s parents put him in a treatment center.
Throughout his stay, he cried constantly about how he didn’t belong there. Couldn’t they get him out? He had learned his lesson and had to get back to school.
“We paid for 28 days, John. Just stick it out,” Bill told him, but their son’s complaints were beginning to wear them down.
“These people don’t know what they are doing,” he said. “They’ve given me lousy roommates, the food stinks, the counselors ignore us. What they call group is just a bunch of people sitting in a room. Get me out of here!”
28 Days is Not Enough!
In John’s third week, the treatment professionals told the parents, “Your son needs more help. He is beginning to get it, but if he leaves after 28 days, he will just go back to using very shortly. We suggest that he stay here another month and then go into our recovery residence, where he will continue with Intensive Outpatient, followed by Aftercare. He needs at least a year of supervised help to get him thinking straight again and we believe we can help him if we are given the time.” (1)
Of course, John balked when his parents told him the recommendation.
“They just want more money. I feel much better. I don’t need their help or their supervision. I need to get back to life and my friends.”
John’s parents were confused. Their son was almost an adult. If they told him to stay, he could leave of his own accord if he wanted to. He seemed well now. Maybe the center DID just want more money.
A Friend Guides the Parents to BALM Family Recovery!
One day, while discussing this problem with their friend Barbara, whose son went through another treatment center, Barbara told them about how her son’s treatment center had a family program that included the Be A Loving Mirror® (BALM®) Family Recovery Education Program. (2)
“When they told me it was on the web,” Barbara said, “I thought, ‘How could this work?’ But the treatment center enrolled me as part of my son’s admission. One of the BALM® Family Recovery Coaches called me and took me on an online tour of the program, and I suddenly had more support and guidance than I had ever had before.”
Connie and Bill were intrigued. They got on the Family Recovery Resources website, read the materials and filled out an info form. Within a few days, they received information about the program and enrolled. A coach took them on a tour of the virtual school and they began the program.
So Many Options!
Choosing from a variety of live online expert interviews and recordings, live classes to help them communicate more effectively with their son, a live journaling workshop, and live coaching groups, they began to get a real sense of the toll addiction had taken on their son and their family, and a viable path out of the chaos. Barbara had also told them they could get a coach to work with them on their specific issues with John, so they scheduled a complimentary session to find out if that could help them.
Soon, they were feeling much less confused. They had tools to help them help their son, understood the kinds of questions to ask at the treatment center, and learned how to partner with the professionals to be their son’s best chance at recovery. After awhile, they found themselves less afraid of saying no to him and more confident in their own ability to get their own lives back while also helping their son get his life back, too.
Using the BALM®, they learned evidence-based practices including, but not limited to Mindfulness, Motivational Conversations, and Brief Interventions. These allowed them to stay peaceful themselves and reach out to their son without putting him on the defensive.(3)
Scripting and Having a Powerful Conversation with their Son Made All the Difference
As the 28th day approached, their BALM® Coach helped them script and have a conversation with their son that convinced him to stay in treatment for another month and then continue with his IOP and Aftercare while living in Recovery Residence. The treatment center had college connections and was able to help him make the transition back to his education, gradually and effectively.
Yes, there were stones on the path, and their son’s recovery was hardly a straight line. But now they knew how to respond, how to be truly helpful, and how to stay calm even when things became difficult. Their challenges became more manageable now that they were BALMing. (4) They finally had a way to help themselves and their son that brought them peace and the ability to be there for him effectively and powerfully.
And as for their younger son Garrett, he began to relax as he watched his parents get back to themselves and become a part of his life again, too.
1. NIDA (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition
2. A Healing BALM® for Families Dealing with Addiction. Re-New Online from:http://www.reneweveryday.com/a-healing-balm-for-families-dealing-with-addiction/ ©2011 RENEW MEDIA, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
3. Evidence-based practices are those practices that have been shown through research to be most effective in helping those who practice them help their own recovery and/or that of their loved ones or clients.
4 BALMing is a term coined by members of the BALM® community who have learned how to Be A Loving Mirror® with their loved ones and bring peace back into the home
About the Author:
Dubbed “The Leading Family Recovery Coach in the Nation”, Beverly Buncher, BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach and CEO/Owner of Family Recovery Resources, LLC, (FRR), is the author of the book BALM® The Loving Path to Family Recovery.
She and her growing cadre of BALM Coaches and faculty members train future and experienced life coaches who want to work with families through the BALM® Institute for Family Recovery Life Coach Training and help family members of individuals with use disorders turn their chaos to sanity, through the Be A Loving Mirror® (BALM®) Method of Family Recovery Life Coaching and Education. In addition to her book, articles and blogs, Bev is the author of two e-books.
She is internationally recognized as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by the ICF (International Coach Federation), a Certified BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach (CBFRLC) through the BALM® Institute, and is also a Certified True Purpose Coach (CTPC) through the True Purpose Institute.
Beverly is an international speaker. To learn more click here to go to her media kit page or you can reach her by phone at 1-888-998-BALM (2256), by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website at https://www.balmfamilyrecovery.com.