+ Advocate for your loved one's recovery NOT for their desires! - BALM

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Advocate for your loved one’s recovery NOT for their desires!

Addiction Recovery for Families, BALM, Early Sobriety, Family Recovery | October 11, 2014

Perhaps you’ve met a family like this.

The daughter was constantly saying she would stop drinking, that she could do this, that she didn’t need ANOTHER treatment, that it just wouldn’t help anyway, that she needed to do it on her own. The family, having already put her through five treatment experiences was wearing out. They hired a Recovery Life Coach to help them help her, and he brought a sober companion to the house to help make it work, but the daughter simply REFUSED to allow that sober companion to stay longer than a couple of weeks at a time, and of course, when the sober companion left, she would start drinking again.

The team met regularly to assess progress and determine next steps. At a certain point, dad admitted that his daughter had been threatening to kill herself. The family had been holding this information back from the team as the daughter had told them she would tell her coach she was thinking of hurting herself (but she didn’t tell him). Upon hearing this, an intervention was held, the daughter agreed to go back into inpatient, this time for much longer than the typical month program, and the family began their own intensive growth program by working with a BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach.

It was at the point of family surrender to becoming Advocates for their Daughter’s Recovery RATHER than advocates for her WILL, that things started to change. This story is repeated again and again in families around the world.

One of the biggest challenges family members face with a using loved one is figuring out how to help them when they seem to not want help. This challenge leads many family members to actions such as:

  • giving up on getting them into treatment
  • thinking that they, the parents or spouse, and not the professionals, know best on how to help them get better
  • going along with them when they say they have to come home early or otherwise break the rules of treatment
  • not challenging them when they refuse to go to aftercare or sober living or halfway house
  • supporting them when they decide to leave these facilities early against the advice of the professionals caring for them
  • simply ignoring what is going on right in front of the family members’ noses (such as use, drinking, blackouts, theft, etc.) because the implications of noticing are too difficult, frightening, or upsetting to face
  • babysitting them when their own approaches don’t work
  • being there for them in ways that don’t lead to positive change, and in fact, may lead to negative consequences
  • taking them on lavish vacations or giving them fancy cars when they complete treatment or or giving them gifts in order to ‘reward’ them

So, you may ask, what are you saying? Are you suggesting that I fight with my loved one? I thought this approach was all about love.


Great question.

First of all, let’s talk about fighting (or challenging) vs. love. Who really is the enemy? Your loved one? Hardly.

The enemy is the usage that is day by day, doing its very best to KILL them. That fight is one worth having and it is one that family members have fought throughout the ages, often to no avail.

Today, there is help that can make a difference for your loved one. But when they say they are not be willing to avail themselves of it OR insist on doing it their own way, it is important for family members to see through the resistance and see their addiction speaking through them.

BALM® offers a peaceful approach to help you challenge the addiction. When you have a Be A Loving Mirror (BALM®) conversation, your words travel under the radar of defenses the addicted part of your loved one puts up as a shield.

In a BALM® conversation, you:

  • stay calm
  • drop all judgment
  • share only the facts of their use and its consequences
  • set boundaries ONLY when you are sure you will stick to them.

Thus, your loved one has the best chance to hear you with their inner ear, the one that knows the truth and wants recovery.

So you are NOT actually fighting them, you are working WITH them to fight the addictive parts of them that are holding on to use so tightly. (Yes, we know it sometimes feels and looks like you are fighting them, but this attitudinal shift of seeing yourself as advocating for their recovery can help you implement BALM® and can help open them up to hearing you.)

Okay. So, what does it mean to Advocate for their Recovery rather than for them?

When a loved one is caught up in their use (and even well into early recovery), they have a strong inner addictive voice pushing them into actions and activities that will give the addiction a strong chance of returning. So, while your loved one may be an adult and you may be used to respecting their will in all things large and small, THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DO SO!!!

Rather, now is the time to see them as struggling for their life, in need of someone to advocate for the small voice in them that wants OUT of their addictive patterns of behavior!

YOU can be that advocate!

Here is how:

  • Learn everything you can about how to help them.
  • Learn how to have BALM® conversations and practice doing so.
  • Do something different. Instead of hearing your loved one say “No, I won’t go to treatment,” and simply going along with it, decide on what leverage you have and consider using it. (You will learn how to do this in lesson one of The Daily BALM® and your coach will help you develop a plan.)
  • Do NOT set a boundary if you are not ready to stick to it!!! Setting a boundary or applying leverage and then backing down is worse than not doing so at all. Your boundary setting needs to be planful AND you need to be ready to apply the consequences that will result if they choose to NOT go along with the boundary you have set.

A using addict’s will wants to keep the status quo. This can go on for quite some time and a family’s intervention is NOT always successful the first or even second time around. Yet, as Addiction Psychiatrist/Researcher Dr. John Kelly of Harvard shared on The Daily BALM® last spring, early intervention CAN shorten the amount of time it takes for a loved one to choose recovery. His research confirmed what we have been telling families for years:

When you advocate for your loved one’s recovery rather than for their will, you (the family) become their BEST chance at recovery!

When you become an Advocate for Recovery, you educate yourself thoroughly on addiction, recovery, and the family’s role. As a result of doing so, you:

  • help rather than enable
  • choose your words carefully, always thinking and planning your conversations with your using, newly sober, or struggling, loved one
  • script and practice the conversations you will have with your loved one (with help as needed)
  • work closely with the treatment professionals you choose to work with to help your loved one
  • follow their well-schooled guidance, rather than your loved one’s wishes and desires
  • Act wisely and let go of results, knowing that the time table of when your loved one will wake up from their addiction is not in your hands but you CAN make a difference by choosing healthier ways to communicate with them.

To learn more about how to get the help and practice that will result in your ability to be a Powerful Advocate for your Loved One’s Recovery, go to:


 If you would like to get started now, before the holiday craziness adds to the difficulty your family is facing with your loved one, consider this!

BALM® is here to help you TURN DOWN THE STRESS on the holiday season, even if your situation seems to be doing its best to raise it!  AND we are offering you TWO BALM® programs to help you do so!

While others are ‘all stressed out’, you will face the holiday season with a quiet sense of calm. And, the support of your classmates and other group members will help you get through one of the most difficult times of the year for families affected by addiction!

Plus, the value of participation will go way beyond the holiday season. In fact, family members who implement BALM® practices in their lives report:

  • a sense of growing serenity and sanity regardless of others’ choices
  • the increasing ability to ‘know what to say and how to say it’ as they utilize the principles and practice them with their coach.


We are offering a one year coaching group (available on three different days per week) that includes one of our two classes in it as part of the payment package for the group.


  1. If you have not yet taken the Daily BALM®, your Daily BALM® enrollment will be included in your group coaching package at no additional cost!
  2. If you have taken the Daily BALM® and could use more education and support, you can sign up for group coaching, and the 7 Steps to BALM® course will be included at no additional cost!
  3. Please note: If you are already a one-on-one BALM® Family Recovery Coaching client, all of this is included in your package and you will be receiving an update about these upcoming programs in the next few days!