Detoxing the Family from Addiction
March 23rd, 2015 | By Jason Brooks
Addiction reaches every aspect of a person’s life – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It affects family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. No one is left untouched by this disease. Addiction Campuses’ focus in the month of March, turns to a five-part series with an esteemed author and colleague, Dr. Jason Brooks, who will share insight on detoxing the mind, the body, the spirit, the family and life. Whether you or a loved one are overcoming addiction or other past traumas, Dr. Jason Brooks will show you how to “Begin, Again.”
Recognized as one of the most prominent emerging voices in personal and organizational transformation, Dr. Jason Brooks is also likely to be one of the most authentic, transparent and “real”. Viewed by many as the “youth pastor of personal growth and success”, his life mission of “bringing hope, healing, and inspiration to everyone he meets and leading on the journey for change, growth, and success” provides the foundation and focus where his purpose and passion are fully unleashed.
As a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and Chief People Officer of Addiction Campuses, Dr. Jason brings a heart for helping others to achieve their greatest potential and success…one step at a time.
Detoxing the Family from Addiction
One of the most heartbreaking aspects of drug and alcohol addiction is the ravaging pain it causes…not just for the person struggling with the addiction, but more so for the family. Addiction is an insidious disease that doesn’t just impact one person but the entire family system. Betrayal, secrets, shame, guilt, broken dreams, financial devastation…the list of the emotions and impact to the family goes on and on. The road to healing and freedom doesn’t just involve individual detox but will most certainly also include family detox, as well. It’s nothing to be ashamed of…it’s part of the healing process. But, it’s also something that can’t be avoided. It must be accepted and embraced, as painful as it may be, or true healing will never come.
During my time in private practice, I met with several families where one member was on the path of healing from addiction. But, they recognized that they also needed to heal as a family. I believe it’s true that a family is only as strong as the weakest link…but it’s also true that no one is an island and the struggles of one impact everyone. I remember vividly one particular meeting with a family (names have been changed to protect confidentiality) who was just starting the journey…
“It’s great to get together with everyone today,” I began. “Let’s start out with a very general question…What brings you to me today?”
“I’ll start,” said Valerie. Valerie was the wife of Jim (married for 16 years), and mother to Sam (15) and Sarah (13). Jim had struggled with a “functional alcohol addiction” for the majority of their marriage. Though he had committed to change several times over the years, ultimately he ended up going back to the addiction. Almost a year ago, after an ultimatum from Valerie, Jim finally committed to inpatient treatment with the goal of breaking the chains once and for all. It had been a painful year, for Jim and then entire family. But, for the first time, they were seeing hope. Although hope was there, the pain of the past still lingered and there were deep issues that needed to be addressed for this family to heal together.
“Jim’s addiction to alcohol has plagued us for years. It was something he and I tried to keep in the dark…from our kids…from his employer…from our extended family…from our friends at church. But, in the end, there was no way to keep it silent. As much as we would like to say ‘It was under control’, ultimately we knew it was growing bigger and bigger in the darkness.”
Jim continued. “We let each other down, we let others down, we were living a lie, and we built walls around our lives. On the outside, everything was fine…a stained glass masquerade. But, in the inside, we were being slowly torn apart.”
I could see that Sam and Sarah were getting a little fidgety. Though it’s often tough to engage teens in conversation with folks outside their circle of friends, I felt they had something to say.
“Sam and Sarah, is there anything you want to share?” I asked.
Sam looked down. Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes as she started. “I always knew it. Mom and dad would argue in their bedroom…but I could hear. Some nights I would cry myself to sleep…but no one knew it…praying that God would heal my daddy and bring our family back.”
“I can hear the pain in all your voices,” I said. “This pain has built over years and years. Lies, shame, guilt, broken promises. These have been the foundations of your family. Just as Jim has been through an incredible journey of healing and change as he has worked to break the chains of addiction from his life, you will now need to come together like never before to detox your family.”
“In listening to your story, you’ve identified three areas of detox that I have helped countless families navigate. If you really want your family back, as Sarah said, all three of these step will need to be taken.”
“The first step is forgiveness. You will need to learn to forgive yourselves and to forgive each other. The easy thing to do is to point the finger and place blame on others, but in reality addiction is a family disease and you’re all in this together. To create a spirit of forgiveness will help ensure that blame doesn’t creep into the relationship in the future.”
“The second step is learning to trust again. The lies that come with addiction go through every area of life. Trust and openness is critical to ensure that addiction doesn’t take hold again. You’ll need to answer some tough questions. You’ll need to evaluate yourself individually and as a family on your willingness and ability to be completely open and completely trust. This will be tough since there’s been such a history of lies, hiding, and betrayal. But, with forgiveness of self and others, trust and openness can come.”
“The third step is to create a new vision for the future. Sarah said it best. She prayed that God would heal her daddy and bring the family back together. You will need to work together to create a vivid picture of what a ‘together family’ looks like for you. What will you be doing? What will you be thinking? What will you be feeling? And then, you will hold each other accountable to maintaining the family vision you create together. This can be a fun time of dreaming together and not regretting the lost times of the past but looking forward to incredible times ahead. The Bible says in Joel 2:25 ‘I will restore the years that the locust has eaten’. In this case, the locust is alcohol addiction and it has robbed you and your family of years of joy, togetherness, and connection. God can restore and He will be faithful to do just that, if you will take the steps He has before you and embrace the vision of the family He’s always dreamed for you.”
“The steps seem simple enough, but they’re not easy. It’ll take time, commitment, and a willingness to let go. Are you willing to take the journey with me?” I asked.
Valerie, Sam and Sarah nodded. Jim spoke. “I know l’ve brought a lot of pain to my family. But, we love each other and are ready to do whatever it takes to bring our family back. I know it will take time but as much as I’ve hurt those I love most in this world, I’m ready to lead on the journey for healing and restoration. We’re in!”
“Great!” I said. “Let’s get started right now…”
Dr. Jason is an expert in leading life change. As a gifted speaker and life success coach, he is available to speak at your next conference event and would love to connect with you on social media on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Dr. Jason can be contacted through the public relations team at Addiction Campuses