Families in Recovery (Part 1): Explaining Addiction

Families in Recovery (Part 1): Explaining Addiction


– Hello, and welcome to
“Families in Recovery: A Family Education Video,” produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration. The video you’re
going to watch today talks about how family members
can support loved ones during substance abuse treatment
and early recovery. The people in this video
are in recovery themselves or are family members
of people in recovery. Listening to their experiences
may help you understand the role of family in recovery and help you. You’ve taken
an important first step by coming to treatment
with your loved one. When a family
is coping with a loved one who has a problem
with drugs or alcohol, life can be frustrating
and chaotic. The person might behave
self-destructively and family members may resort
to desperate measures to cope. Living with this situation
is difficult. That’s where
treatment can help. When we use the word
“family,” we mean “immediate
and extended family, significant others,
friends, mentors, sponsors,
partners, colleagues– anyone who is
supportive of recovery.” You are encouraged
to bring these people to the Family Education group. – We learned that there were
certain parts of his recovery that had to be taken care of
by professionals. That we had to be there,
but step back and let the professionals
who knew what they were doing. In order for Tom to have
a successful recovery and this to work for everyone,
we had to step back. – Research shows
that treatment works better if family members
are involved. Treatment helps
family members understand addiction
and recovery. Friends and family members
do not always know how to be supportive, or how to act in ways
that are not harmful. They also may not understand
why the person in recovery does or says some things. If everyone has
the same information and understands
the process, success in treatment
is more likely. – And I was talking about how
it’s critically important to have your family
be supportive. And I know
that I caused a lot of pain, I know they were hurt,
I know they were angry. I know all these things,
and so, to have them be there, despite all that, was really,
really important to me. – Two parallel processes
are involved in the development
of addiction. This is a very simplified
explanation of addiction. Basically, two areas
of the brain are involved: the cortex,
and the limbic system. The cortex is the reasoning,
thinking part. It’s where rational
decision making occurs– the brain’s computer. The cortex
directs our behavior and evaluates both the positive
and negative aspects of a situation
when we make decisions. Addictive use of
drugs and alcohol is driven by
powerful changes that substances,
especially stimulants, cause in the lower part
of the brain– the limbic system. Each use of a substance
activates the limbic system, and, eventually, this more
primitive part of the brain becomes conditioned,
to the point where it overrides the rational thought processes
and decision making done in
the prefrontal cortex. – I think the family group
was great, anyway, which was very helpful
to my wife, but, actually,
it was a great way to explain
to a family member how our addict brains
really kind of work. And I think my wife
got a lot out of it, when it comes to the lower brain
and the upper brain and, really, what alcohol
and drugs do to your brain and how long it takes
to sort of recover. And I think,
without that, there wouldn’t really
be an understanding, so I highly recommend the family
group for any family member.

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