“The Treatment Center Is Not Communicating with Me”
“During my child’s first 7 treatment experiences, I was HIS mouthpiece. If he complained to me, I complained to the treatment center. If he wanted something to be more to his liking, I advocated for that. I also wanted to talk regularly to the treatment center about how he was doing, what he was doing, what I could do, how they were helping him overcome his weaknesses so he could stay sober THIS time and of course, tell them all his complaints. Regardless of my constant phone calls, tears, nagging and haranguing, each time, my son came out and used and I was miserable, thinking he was doing this to ME.
“Then, I started my own recovery and found out that I had it all wrong. His recovery journey was his, not mine. It wasn’t my job to ‘make things go smoothly for him’. It was my job to learn as much as I could about what it takes to be a family member in recovery and to pursue that. This time around, he is in his 10th treatment center and when the treatment center misses our weekly call, I take a deep breath and go on with my day. I know they are working with him to deal with his issues and help him grow up. I know that if I focus on what they are not doing to inform me, I’m wasting my time and energy. I wish I had known what I know now about family recovery during the first treatment experience…maybe then, it wouldn’t have taken 10.. for both of us.
“By now I know that even if he doesn’t make it, I will be okay. I’ve learned how to not enable him. I’ve learned how to have conversations that allow him to think through his next steps. I’ve learned how to put myself first while also being there for him in a loving way. Today my blood pressure is down, my health is better, my life is better.
“Why? Because of BALM®. I spent a full year attending classes, studying the principles, learning and practicing the 7 steps. Today, I’m BALMing and if I could give parents one piece of advice, it would be this: Put your focus on YOU, on YOUR recovery, on YOUR life. Don’t expect the treatment center to FIX your child. Treatment gives him time to think through him life and provides a beginning for a life in recovery. You will be a part of his life much longer than any treatment center. Learn how to BALM® so you can be a recovery advocate for him and build a happier life for yourself.” – A BALM® Parent
One of the most common complaints family members share with me is that their loved one’s treatment center is not communicating with them.
If this is a challenge you are facing, here are some tips to consider:
- Most treatment centers are built to help your loved one, not you, so the majority, if not all of their energy is going to helping your loved one.
- If your loved one has signed releases, the staff is allowed to speak with you, but may not have or make the time to do so. OR the level of release your loved one has signed may not allow for much disclosure.
- Ask for a weekly report and/or meeting to find out how your loved one is doing. Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth to get this. If that is the case, it doesn’t mean the treatment center is not ‘good’, just that they either don’t have the staff or the systems set up to do so. Advocate lovingly and persistently without judgment. Use your BALM® tools to share the facts in a loving, non-judgmental way with the treatment center. Your coach can help you with that.
- Remember that your role is to be an advocate for your loved one’s recovery NOT their will! So, if your spouse, son, or daughter wants you to speak with the treatment center about a complaint or preference (roommate issues, food issues, activities, etc.), don’t even think about doing so! This is a good time to allow your loved one to deal with their own issues of living in community, not a good time to interfere.
- Let your loved one know that you are no longer an advocate for their will or desires, that you now an advocate for their recovery. Then follow through by studying and attending your balm classes and coaching sessions so you will really ‘get’ what that means and be able to do what it takes.
- Get your facts straight! You will learn how to do this well when you study the 7 steps. It is important to document what you see and hear as soon as possible afterwards – facts only – because it is easy to mis-remember when emotions are running high!
- If your loved one is an adult, take the scant communication as an opportunity to help you LET GO. Breathe, talk to your teachers and coaches, write in your journal, write the treatment center a letter listing your concerns (in a BALM® way of course – your coach can help you with that).
Here is what it means to be an advocate for your loved one’s recovery:
- support their desire to get help
- encourage them to follow the rules at the treatment center and to put their energy into actions that will reinforce their recovery
- let them know that you are all about recovery now. that they are not at summer camp, so you won’t be sending daily or weekly care packages
- don’t send money beyond what is requested by the treatment center for weekly expenses and be sure to give that money directly to the treatment center
- Practice BALM® – 12 principles and 7 steps. Have powerful loving planned conversations so you can be their BEST chance at recovery!
- Focus on YOUR life. Build one and allow yourself to enjoy moments and hours and days and weeks with and without your loved one!
If you are a BALMer, you have access to all the information at your fingertips you need (by phone and Internet) to learn how to do all that is recommended above.
If you are not a BALMer yet, please know that you are reading blogs directed to people who are part of our community. If you would like to learn more, give me a call at 786 859 4050 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Bev, let’s talk. Be sure to include your phone number!
Be A Loving Mirror!
Beverly A. Buncher, MA, PCC, MRLC, CTPC
Family Recovery Coach/CEO
Family Recovery Resources, LLC
786 859 4050