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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I dare rehab facilities to take this challenge!

I was sitting in a waiting room when I struck up a conversation with another woman. It turns out that she was also the wife of a retired submariner.  Her husband has long since passed and she spoke freely about the long deployments and lack of communication and the parties with free-flowing booze. Both our husbands were dedicated Navy men who put the families on a shelf and took them down when they wanted to be fathers and/or husbands. The similarities were eerie.

Back in the day, the command would reward the men with barbeques and baseball games. There was plenty of hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, salads and kegs of beer. The wives watched in dismay as the men over-indulged
on the foamy headed golden brew. If one of the crew members got drunk, it was OK. The drunkenness was an indication of a relaxed sailor and relaxing the men was the objective of the event.

Alcohol was present everywhere and at every event. It was as though the military was the co-dependent enabler for all the alcoholics in service. If a wife complained or asked for help, they were met with an attitude of “stop meddling.” Wives were intruding if they asked for help. The command never liked having a wife or family member call the Captain or Commander with “home” issues.  If a couple married when the man was in the Navy, then the wife knew it was the Navy when she married him and now needed to accept Navy life. Wives were entirely responsible for the home front and not bother the sailor with such trivial stuff. At least that’s the way it seemed to me and my new friend.

Today it’s a whole new Navy. Alcoholism is frowned upon and the commands no longer support or encourage drinking. That’s good to hear. But, when I called the local Navy Alcohol Rehab Center (or what used to the Navy Alcohol Rehab), I found it wasn’t the old NARC that both Riley and I attended back in the 1980s. Now the focus is on mental health rather than addiction. There is no “per se” alcohol rehab center and there is absolutely no family support program. I was very disappointed.

When Riley and I attended his first ever rehab facility, compliments of the Navy, I found what the best possible thing for both of us. The family program was a daily, four week long program covering every aspect of alcoholism and the family dynamics. Riley’s was a six week program, which was not long enough but a good start to his potential recovery.

Now that I have experienced many other rehab facilities, most of which had NO family program, I am convinced that the Navy’s program was the very best program for families. The only thing keeping it from being the best was the short duration of treatment. Also the Navy did not strictly adhere to their own guidelines concerning when the sailor could go back to previously assigned duty station and/or sea duty.

In my research of civilian rehab facilities, I have found that family programs are just a hit or miss sort of thing. Most offer no more than a weekend or five days at the most. These programs are simply informational and don’t address any of the real problems the family will face when the alcoholic returns home. They also don’t do any one-on-one counseling to help the individually unique situation of each couple. What these rehab facilities offer is just a Band-Aid over an oowwie.

I have a challenge for any readers who are involved with a rehab facility. If you think you have the best family program available, send me an e-mail and tell me about it. What makes your facility the best? How are you different from any other facility? I don’t want to hear about your program for the alcoholic. I’m only interested in FAMILY programs.

I will choose what I consider to the best and post them here as a main post and provide a link to your facility. I’ll also post them in the “There’s Help” page.  Also, at the request of the winning facilities, I will speak to your clients as a group for the cost of my expenses only.


There’s the challenge – let’s see what ya got!

1 comment:

Jennifer Williams-Fields said...

Interesting. When my now ex-husband entered a Navy alcohol rehab center, there was no family program at all. In fact, after his short two week stay, his command received a report that he was "capable of moderate social drinking." Obviously things only went downhill from there. Now whether the Navy counselors were ill equipped or my ex knew how to play the system, the outcome was an alcoholic who had paperwork to show he wasn't an alcoholic. This was in 2005-2006, so hopefully the system has improved by now.
I'm happy to see your focus on family treatment. Between my ex and now with my son, I've found what little family treatment we've received to be pathetic at best.