What is the One Gift Your Family Will Not Return?
The Season of Hope and Family Recovery
This is the season of hope, joy, and the giving of gifts to honor that hope and joy. A season of this type applies to all people who practice traditions of their culture or faith. I am the Family Program for Addiction Treatment facilitator at Sanford Behavioral Health. So, it is natural for me to reflect during the holidays. I am always thinking of ways to improve our family support.
Elements of the Season
What elements of the season apply to recovery from addiction? Healing activities in recovery offer us many new gifts! My favorite statements I have heard throughout my years of working with people recovering from substance use disorders (SUD) are:
- “It may sound stupid, but I’m glad I got addicted! I have learned so much; I never knew life could feel so good!”
- “I feel so lucky. Some people never get the chance to learn about themselves like this.”
No one wants to develop a SUD to self-actualize. My clients and their family members go through many dark days together. Positive outcomes present challenges and require perseverance for everyone involved. Family members struggle to find a new way to manage their lives together. However, they emerge with acceptance, gratitude, joy in living, and, most of all – hope…
When family members no longer personalize their loved one’s brain disease, perspectives change. They learn to accept that their loved one’s behaviors were caused by changes in the brain, not deliberate attempts to hurt them. Family members no longer feel guilty or carry as much self-doubt and responsibility for their loved one’s disorder.
Gratitude and Joy
Speaking of elements of the season, family members feel more gratitude and joy and less defensive, controlling, and argumentative! They don’t feel the urge to fix things. Indeed, they recognize that they can influence their environment by altering their responses but cannot change another person’s disease. The person with a SUD is not someone to be judged or shamed but encouraged and supported to seek treatment for their physical condition.
Hope enters the picture when acceptance, gratitude, and joy occur in a family dealing with an addictive disease. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Meditation Series publishes a daily meditation book for families called “Today’s Gift.” Here are a few of their offerings on hope:
“The hopeful man sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm.” O.S. Marden
“What matters?… Only the flicker of light within the darkness, the feeling of warmth within the cold, the knowledge of love within the void.” Joan Walsh Anglund
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words And never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson
I have one more quote by Alexader Pope: “Hope springs eternal! If things in your family have become unbalanced due to a substance use disorder in the home, I hope you find a gift in this message. Do not hesitate to call!