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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.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Gladstones Clinic in Bristol, England

Why should family members come to Gladstones Clinic, either on their own or as part of a client’s family?


We invite families to Gladstones clinic to participate in one of our family days that take place weekly and is a huge hit as family members are able to share their experiences with each other and the addicted loved one in a group setting. Families are encouraged to share their individual journeys of trying to cope with the consequences of the addiction which can often be frustrating, worrying and an extremely helpless time that in many cases has lasted for many years. We have found that an extremely high percentage of family members have ended up experiencing one or both of the following two things before their arrival at Gladstones:

1. Feeling anger, frustration and exasperation, which they repress until an explosion point which then results in arguments and even aggression or violence being flung back at them by their addicted loved one. Needless to say there is great potential for harm here.

Or

2. Not being honest with the addicted loved one through either fear of the above or fear of upsetting the addicted loved one who the family member believes can't cope with stress and wants to protect in hopes that the abuse of substances will reduce or stop. The family “pretends” everything is fine, stays silent and tries to carry on boldly. This places an unfair burden of responsibility, guilt and stress upon the innocent family members themselves.

Either way, both responses can actually enable the addicted loved one while causing unnecessary harm and or stress to the family itself. This does no one any good. We aim to
reach a middle ground where the family finds their own often neglected healing right along with the addict who more obviously needs healing too. It may sound corny but we aim to achieve this by fostering emotional connection and love combined with tested strategies and coping mechanisms.

The benefits of a family day are largely reliant on natural group dynamics and transference. The coping strategies of family members (above 1&2) result in enabling the addict without realising they have done so. This behaviour becomes more visible and recognisable from an outside perspective which the group setting provides.

This process is aimed at penetrating the denial of the addict and the family member and dispersing of shame which is toxic to the healing process. The communication is then steered towards the connection of love and emotional intimacy.

There is an educational group and more importantly, a process group that we hold after the group session with only the family members aimed towards a reflective learning and healing process.  We introduce an ex service user into this process to share his/her experience of active addiction and from a recovering perspective and introduce SMART boundaries that are acceptable for family members to implement and work from as a recovery platform.

Why is 1/1 family member counselling important and how does Gladstones Clinic handle that?

Family one to one sessions are important for many family members as there can often be much shame from having a loved one in active addiction and many families resist this opportunity to self-heal. Many families hold privacy as a strong family value and need the confidential environment to talk out openly without fear of judgement. In many cases family members are controlled or even subject to threats or even violence. We give them a safe space to unload and teach coping mechanisms, boundary defences, defuse enabling patterns and ways to constructively help both themselves and the addict at the same time. Our goal is a win win situation for all parties. Healing the family is a process that starts with love, a connection we facilitate from the beginning of the programme right up to the end and even beyond should family members request it.

1 comment:

JBthatsme said...

Linda, I must applaud your efforts in trying to find some sort of rehab facility with resources for the families as well. It is sad that it doesn't seem to be out there. While I've seen glamorous rehab facility commercials showing workouts and acupuncture for the addict / alcoholic, I'm guessing their lived ones are sitting at home sobbing or working their ass' off to pay for the rehab. I've heard different stats with regard to the number of addicts / alcoholics, somewhere around 1 in 10, and although that's a high number let's also keep in mind that with such shame based diseases I would imagine the number to be higher. It's been said in meetings why isn't this place packed then? The truth is some of us are as much ashamed as the addict alcoholic. And with rehabs, maybe the insurance companies just don't deem it worthwile, I don't know. I do think it would be wonderful for you to have such a facility, but I don't have money for such a start up either. I also appreciate the easy terms explanation of the simple fact that alcohol does contribute to heart issues. I think about these sorts of questions all the time, but what gets me angry is that some big corporation is making lots of money off of my pain, suffering, and misery, as well as yours, your readers and many others. I can't thank you enough for all that you do. Please know that you are appreciated, and keep up the good work my friend.