+ Sallie's Granddaughter Relapses

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Sallie’s Granddaughter Relapses

Addiction Recovery for Families, Beverly Buncher, Early Sobriety, Family Recovery | April 3, 2014

“…you have enabled Melissa in the past. I also believe you stalled Melissa’s recovery process by not setting boundaries and by being a safe haven for her drug usage.”

“I remember,” Sallie said solemnly. “but this time can be different. I know now it is important to advocate for a loved one’s recovery, and not for them. But surely recovery can’t ONLY take place in a sober living environment?”

Then we talked about her husband’s drinking which meant that her home was hardly a sober environment.

“I know, I know. but his drinking is hardly the same as her heroin use,” Sallie shot back. She was determined to ‘be there’ for her granddaughter.

Tip #31:

Recovery can happen anywhere if the person is ready to get clean and sober. Yet, certain places are more conducive.

When I talk with clients about whether to take a loved one back before the plan had previously indicated, we discuss all of the possibilities and parameters: whether the environment will encourage sobriety, what boundaries to set around aftercare, therapy, drugs and alcohol, etc., what will happen if those boundaries are broken. I talk about these specific things in the program I mentioned earlier.

The program reminded Sallie, while in the middle of her fears, to not enable Melissa,  which in turn may get her clean again.

“Yes, I get it. She will have to have boundaries and requirements. I’m on board with all of that by now. I’m not the same Sallie as before.”

“And you realize her parents will have to be on board with this as well?”

Sallie agreed that this needed to be a larger family discussion, still focusing on the long term recovery care management plan even with this possible change in the venue.

Tip #32:

Family Recovery requires flexibility along with inner resolve.

Of course, Tom and Melissa were so upset. With Melissa out on the street, they were frightened and confused.

I reminded them of the long term nature of the recovery process. That it can take several years of this in and out dance before a user settles into long term remission. They hadn’t been on the call with Dr. John Kelly on the program the week before, so I thought they would benefit from a refresher.

I’m going to pause here. I want to share Dr. Kelly’s discussion with all of you. An Associate Professor at Harvard, he is one of the top experts in addiction and recovery in the nation. In fact, he literally co-wrote a  book on it:  Addiction Recovery Management: Theories and Practice with William White. I was so impressed with his list of contributions I took up the first few moments of the hour reading his biography aloud (sorry about that – i couldn’t resist! Anyway, go here to listen: http://bit.ly/1d986Qr

His talk was pretty amazing, wasn’t it?

Among his main topics were:

  • the science behind basic recovery idea

  • how families can best help a loved one

  • how loved ones can best help themselves

  • how long it takes, on average, for a loved one to get and stay sober

  • the statistics on how many people who struggle with addiction are actually able to stay sober over the long haul.

I suggested Tom and Salllie listen to it since they missed it.

I had a copy of the interview I could send to their email quickly. “Listen to the interview and then let’s talk.”

“Good idea, Bev,” Tom said. “I know when I listened to Tim Harrington’s interview on the importance of long term recovery planning, it helped a lot. But then again, we put all the pieces into place and look what happened…”

“Yes, but remember how we learned that relapse, I mean recurrence, is a part of early recovery? Tom, that was all the way back in lesson one of the program and in Tim’s talk! Maybe Melissa’s just going through her process. It doesn’t mean there is no hope,”  Millie reminded him.

I could see from Melissa’s voice that she was feeling a bit better from our conversation. “Thanks for your help, Bev,” she said. After we listen to the interviews,and review some of our lesson notes, we will call you back.”

Before they hung up the phone, I heard a loud, banging at the front door.



I mentioned “the program” throughout the story today. It is The Daily BALM®. The program helped Sallie deal with the day to day issues that come along with her granddaughter using drugs. I’ll tell you next week the 3 things I shared with her on The Daily BALM® that kept her sane and helped Melissa in her recovery.

You may have missed parts of Sallie or Melissa’s story. If you’d like to read more about Melissa, her family members and the tips I mentioned earlier, you can go to the upper right hand side of this page and add your best email address to receive a free guide to being in relationship with a loved one who is dealing with addiction. It tells you a bit more about “Being a Loving Mirror”. You’ll also be able to follow stories like Millie’s through regular emails delivered to your inbox. One more thing… Do you know a Millie, a Tom, or a Melissa? Share these stories with them.