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The Myth of Being Ready to Recover

Feeling exhausted and discouraged when you’re the parent of a young man struggling with a substance use disorder is natural. When someone you love is an addict or alcoholic, it throws your whole house into chaos, straining relationships and causing family members to behave in ways that are out of character.

It’s the nature of being parent to want to do anything to keep your child safe. When you’re the parent of a struggling addict, this takes a toll on your bank account, your sanity, and the harmony of your household. And everyone reaches a breaking point when they feel physically and emotionally drained in the process of trying to manage their loved one’s disease.

The clinical team at Voyage has decades of combined experience working with families, and helping them navigate the difficult and triggering landscape of early recovery.

Our compassion for family members is rooted in the knowledge that while each family who comes to Voyage is different, they all share something in common: hope for something better for their sons and themselves.

Living with and loving a young man who’s struggling with addiction or alcoholism is exhausting, unpredictable, and nerve-fraying. But experience shows that men have a better chance at recovery when they have the support of their family.

Families who commit to treatment are committing to the idea that improvement is possible.

When a young man’s treatment begins, families often feel a wave of relief that they no longer have to bear the brunt of their loved one’s disease alone. But without the distraction of constant crisis, resentment and doubt can begin to creep in.

Pushed past the point of exhaustion, parents can sabotage themselves with faulty beliefs about recovery. The most common, and perhaps most damaging, is the idea that a man has to want to recover, or has to be ready to recover, or it won’t work.

During Family Week, a week-long on-campus program for family members and partners of our patients, we examine faulty beliefs such as this.

The truth for most of the men who come through our doors is that they don’t want to give up their drug of choice. To these men, drugs and alcohol are more than substances—they’re a coping mechanism, a safety net, a security blanket, and even a companion.

Family members see a man’s drug of choice as the source of all his problems. He sees it as the solution, and he can be resistant to treatment because it forces him to give up the only thing that has ever worked.

Parents have already gone through so much by the time the get to us—they’ve been lied to, manipulated, stolen from, and have often shouldered the consequences of their son’s poor choices. It can be hard to believe that recovery is possible, or that their son can have a life of passion and purpose without drugs or alcohol.

False beliefs like “if he doesn’t want to recover it won’t work” are problematic in two significant ways:

First, it dismisses all of the hard work these young men put into their recovery everyday with us, as well as the strength it takes for each man to trust our team and our process.

Second, it robs a family of hope, which can prevent parents from working hard on their own recovery (“If he’s not going to work at recovery, why should I?”)

Consider this: If a man shows up to treatment, does the work and begins his journey to recovery in earnest, does it not count because he didn’t want it in the first place?

Like exercising a muscle, doing it consistently will deliver results even if you didn’t want to get stronger.

The men of Voyage spend their weeks shoulder-to-shoulder with other young men in recovery. They explore the natural world and test their physical abilities in experiential. Then, in a therapeutic setting, they address their dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors, and learn how to be honest and accountable with their counselor and with the rest of the men.

There’s no opting out of our daily schedule, and with our small group size the men can’t hide in a crowd. In other words, regardless of their willingness to recover, they’re surrounded by recovery all day, every day.

That young man who was unwilling to surrender his drug of choice at the beginning of treatment has spent months away from that cycle of addiction. He has learned new strategies for dealing with overwhelming thoughts and feelings, and has developed a trust and knack for reaching out to his peers for support.

Family Week is a special time for our families.

After weeks of working with their counselor over the phone, they come together with a few other families for an intensive week-long experience. It’s an opportunity to immerse themselves in recovery processes led by our clinical team, and also to check in with their son and see just how much he’s progressed in the time he’s been with us.

Family Week offers groups and exercises that are just for family members, focusing solely on their own recovery, to help them work through some of the damage done in the course of active addiction. We address communication, boundaries, hopes and fears, and we take a hard look at faulty beliefs that can hinder healing. By addressing and dismantling these faulty beliefs we help families remove the obstacles to recovery.

With our help, family members build their own continuing care plan, learning that they can find recovery, healing and sanity of their own by seeking out their own therapy or self-help and support groups specifically for families of alcoholics and addicts.

Our goal is to help families live a whole-hearted life in recovery.

We want to help families free themselves from the destructive cycles of the past that kept them stuck in hopelessness and bitterness, and to feel hopeful about the possibilities the future holds. When everyone is engaged in the recovery process, the whole family can get better together.

Voyage supports parents and their sons throughout their time with us, and even beyond. We’ve got more information you can read (or share with a parent who might need it) in our section For Families.

We’re here to answer your questions about our Family Program and our innovative treatment program for young adult men with substance use disorders — call us at (772) 245-8345 to find out if we’re right for you or someone you care about.


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