Family Recovery in Action

 

Inventing the Recovery Wheel

This article is brilliant. It is by a mother who takes the bull of alcoholism by the horns and turns it into a strengthening learning experience.

In common with many loving parents, seeing her youngest son in the throes of alcohol addiction drove Sue H. to despair and the point of illness. Constructing her own ‘Recovery Wheel’ gave her a way of coping, as well as highlighting the professional support that would have made a difference earlier on.

It’s a November evening and I am sitting in the Bristol UK Hippodrome watching Cats, a wonderful production, people all around me with looks of sheer enjoyment on their faces. So why is it I feel so sad? So very sad that I feel tears starting to roll down my face.

It’s just one of the many confusing feelings going on for me right now. Next week my youngest son enters treatment for his addiction to alcohol.

Why am I sad? Because of 12 years of living with addiction in the family. It’s something that as a parent I never thought would happen to us – particularly with alcohol, a legal substance, that lots of people have a great time with.

My youngest son’s drinking has taken our family down a road of darkness I would never have dreamed about. Sadness is only one part of it.

Guilt and shame, anger, frustration, hate, loss, fear, isolation, confusion, despair, and the big one – powerlessness – all take their part on a daily basis. For a long time I did not cope. I went into a deep depression, a black hole that I could see no way out of. Looking back now it feels scary that I was so close to ending my life because I just could not stop my son from drinking. I had reached the point of giving up because I could not find the help I needed.

But something happened that put me on the road to where I am now. It feels good to be alive now – I have a serenity in me that I thought did not even exist. I was asked to speak at the SGDAS (South Gloucestershire Drug and Alcohol Services in the UK) three-day Family Forum as a family member. I had to speak for about 15 minutes on what I needed, and perhaps what I did not get.

How could I illustrate 12 years and the pieces of the puzzle that had got me to where I was now? This was how my Recovery Wheel began. Armed with board and coloured pens, I stepped back in time 12 years and began my journey once more. The feeling of desperation for help felt as real as it did then. One particular memory of a visit to the GP sprang to mind. I was in absolute surrender for help and it brought me nothing. When I left that day if I had thought of it, I would have laid down in the main road outside of the surgery. I had hit my rock bottom and I hope that no family member now would ever need to feel like that. I changed my GP.

So what do I need? Topics in this article include;

This is the beginning of My Recovery Wheel…

  • I need an understanding GP.
  • I need a service that will fit me.
  • I need a support worker that has sensitivity and patience.
  • I need as much information as possible.
  • I need education on family roles.
  • I need groups to empower me.
  • I need to have some fun again.
  • I need tools to help me along.

‘My youngest son’s drinking has taken our family down a road of darkness I would never have dreamed about. Sadness is only one part of it. Guilt and shame, anger, frustration, hate, loss, fear, isolation, confusion, despair, and the big one – powerlessness – all take their part on a daily basis.’

For full story download PDF file at; Drink and Drugs News, 3 December 2007.

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