Karen L. Kehler, MA,  MSHA - Private- Professional- Affordable Counseling Services
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Kehler Counseling Blog

Support for the Love Ones of Opiate/Heroin Addicts

In my pursuit to truly help our addicts I've become much more inquisitive about the details of their thinking to try to figure out more effective ways to make a difference – understand their decisions – pass on what they teach me. 
Here are some things I learned or formulated this week . . .
·         One of the reasons that ‘rehab’ – treatment centers – ‘addiction only’ facilities don’t ‘work’  is that they are keeping the addict ‘hostage’ (my word) to the drug user culture!   They may find them ‘safe’ from outsiders but inside that is where they are meeting ONLY drug users – most resentful and resistant – and with that they are spending even more time  talking about drugs – drug use – drug ‘code’ –drug consequences – drug manipulations and lying. . .  especially if we are limiting their activity to ONLY treatment – they aren't meeting ‘regular’ people!     How can they change ‘people – places –things’ if all they are exposed to are other addicts. . . I’m for ‘saturation’ to learn new behaviors but are we doing it ‘right’?   Even at epidemic levels -its only 10% of the population - that means there are 90% of us who are doing 'straight' just fine.  If you talk to people 'in the rooms' they often share as if 'everyone' is addicted.  Urban myths start this way.   
o   My ‘answer’ and I have seen it ‘work’ – is to get the addict WORKING – working ANYWHERE – multiple jobs even chores – multiple places the second they are ‘clean’.   The reason this ‘works’ is that they quickly have to get on board with ‘real’ people – the person training, the boss, the co-workers – the customers, clients, patients – the public.   They also get instant feedback – hopefully positive – about their performance – through verbal – financial – body language – and attention – that they ARE NOT getting if they rarely leave home.   We need to offer jobs – chores –projects to them if they can find normal employment.  Warm weather is coming – outdoor work can be very satisfying! If we want to reduce the level of addiction - we need to have alternative activities to do 'instead'.  Not having something is the fastest way back to relapse. 
§ The more I've been counseling – lately I captured this difficulty with multiple clients with severe disabilities – who are isolated in their homes – are depressed because they aren't ‘out in the world’ where we get FEEDBACK –the greetings, the ‘how are you’, the ‘like your dress’ , ‘boy you look good’, ‘thanks’ or ‘you did it’!   There are no awards – achievements, championships, rewards, promotions, or bigger paychecks – all things that ‘regular’ people get and what keeps them going and motivated!!
§  Even if they help out with chores, projects, errands, handyman activities – its BETTER than nothing!!   I ALWAYS encourage my clients to DO something VISIBLE – because then OTHERS notice it – and comment – hopefully positively – and that is the ‘feel good’ that we need!!   Never under-estimate that.  
  Unrealistic expectations are another downfall.   Addicts and alcoholics tend to be dreamers.  I call them ‘Barstool Billionaires’ – they can scheme – dream – plan the biggest and best life anyone could ever imagine but they never get off the stool or couch to move ONE step FORWARD –to GET THERE!    Fear of failure – rejection – condemnation -shame– judgment are the roots of it – but they need to be encouraged to ‘Just DO it’ – in small steps – that improve chances of success.
· Drug using replaces the lost ‘status’that was gained from high school and college experiences.   Think about it.  We practically drown our ‘best’ in awards – rewards – publicity- newspaper coverage – TV news-announcements of championships, sign ons, honors, dean’s lists . . . it goes on and on – then comes to a sudden slammed door if the graduate didn't have a ‘Plan B’ – the high school hero – the college grad with high honors and elitist memberships – suddenly has to deal with ‘real life’ where they are one of MANY –often from even more/better and suddenly have to deal  with being a tiny fish in a very large ocean – if they don’t move onto a job (who does??) that has lots of rewards – bonuses – award dinners –and other positive feedback tools – they get ‘depressed’ for lack of a better word.    I have also found that Pot users miss the ‘gang’ of fellow users – as they move on to other places-jobs-colleges.   Without their ‘fellowship’ they easily feel ‘lost’.     With ‘hard drugs’ that requires high levels of criminal activity – serious gear – use rituals – they get caught in the ‘status’ of being a leader – ‘cool’ – the ‘man’ when others depend on them for their supply, protection, scamming, manipulation.
·   The sense of belonging is the most important feeling to FEELit is behind the ‘success’ of the 12 Step ‘rooms’ –Church attendance – memberships to civil/civic groups – the more challenges to get in – the more prestige it carries – and once IN – you avoid the dreaded ‘rejection’  that is the most difficult feeling to feel – even worse than grieving. . .   Consider how can we ‘replace’ the ‘drug gang’ with a better source of ‘membership’ – the ‘rooms’ are one place – but churches and volunteer/sports can offer others.   I’ll go back to the need to incorporate our addicts into membership of NON-using – activities – where they discover that 90% of us are ‘out here’ and DON’T USE!!
·       Remember it may FEEL like ‘everyone’ is doing it – when in fact – only 10% are – (that’s epidemic level) – the other 90% are dealing with ‘real life’ without drugs – everyone needs to know that – lessen the ‘panic’ !!   and worry! 
I started a Support Group for the Love Ones of Opiate/Heroin Users - we meet at the Frackville Library - rear meeting room -7pm next meeting - April 15th.  It is open to anyone dealing with Opiate/Heroin addiction in their home, family or friends.   No charge.   Bring a friend.  

As my logo claims. . . Caring    Encouraging   Empowering
If you prefer privacy I have individual sessions -available weeknights and Saturdays. 
Call or email today. 
One Step 
One Day at a Time 



1 Comment to Support for the Love Ones of Opiate/Heroin Addicts:

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news on Thursday, April 26, 2018 2:47 PM
Absolutely loved the entire post, quite interesting and had a great time going through it. Thanks for sharing this with us and I hope to see more such good shares from you.
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