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Family Programme

Virginia Graham, MA, MSc, Dip, MBACP

Virginia Graham, MA, MSc, Dip, MBACP

Venue: 11 Kendrick Mews SW7 3HG
Time: Wednesdays, 7pm – 8.30pm
Frequency: Weekly
Facilitator: Virginia Graham
Consultant: Johnny Cunningham-Reid
For: Family members of people in recovery and active addiction

Virginia Graham runs our Family Programme. Virginia has been working in the addictions field with groups and individuals for the past twenty-two years. She specialises in working with the loved ones of people in both addiction and recovery, and feels strongly that there is a profound need for family members and loved ones to be better supported as they go through their own recovery processes.

Extensive research from the USA has consistently shown that family involvement is a key predictor of successful treatment and recovery outcomes. This shouldn’t be surprising — both addiction and recovery occur within family systems. But what is surprising is that while so much help and support is available for people in addiction or recovery, relatively little professional support is available to their loved ones.

The Family Programme is intended to address this imbalance. It is aimed at individuals who may have been affected by a loved one’s emotional ill health, or are now trying to adapt to their loved one having entered a recovery process – both of which can be equally challenging to manage.

Subjects covered include: boundaries; how to manage the addict; how to manage the self; self-esteem; identity; communication; living with recovery; appropriate ways to respond to lapses; care taking; forgiveness; and codependency.

The focus will be on participant contributions, and the group process will provide solutions to the challenges described – the objective is a positive one. Group members can book in and attend the group at their convenience and need; there is no requirement for weekly attendance. At Start2Stop/The Mews House, we are passionate about trying to help and support the loved ones of those in active addiction, treatment, or recovery.

Living with addiction

Active addiction will almost certainly have caused suffering and pain to partners, children, and pretty much everyone in the family system.

Do you ever think?
“It’s my fault. If I had done things differently this would not be happening.”
“It’s someone else’s fault. If they change then the problem will go away.”
“I should be able to fix this.”
“I should be able to do this all myself.”
“If the person stops using, everything will return to normal/ be OK.”

It often takes a long time to figure out what the real problem is. When someone is in active addiction, they hide and cover up a great deal and may behave in ways that it is hard for others to understand. They become self-destructive and inconsistent. This is scary to live with, if you care about or depend on them. As a family member, you may start to believe that your mistakes are responsible for a life-threatening condition in someone else. You may start to put a lot of pressure on yourself to ‘get it right’ or be ‘perfect’. This pressure is stressful and debilitating and creates more problems. Families very often blame themselves or others for the addicts’ behaviour, and not know who to turn to for help, or what to do.

Living with recovery

This can also be very confusing. Although your loved one is now in treatment or recovery, you are still scarred by having living through their addiction. Common traits that continue into the recovery process include:

  • Self-neglect: Putting yourself and your needs ‘on hold’, or spending less and less time taking care of yourself, while you spend more and more time putting the recovering addict first.
  • Anxiety: Constantly worrying about the future: what might happen if they relapse and what you should do about it?
  • Confusion: Not knowing exactly how to support your loved one.
  • Isolation: Withdrawing from people and activities; having less energy for other relationships; feeling increasingly judged and misunderstood.
  • Depression: Feeling like a failure, not good enough, hopeless and alone.

You may have felt alone while your loved one was in addiction, and you may continue to feel alone, and perhaps abandoned, now that they are in recovery and always out with recovery friends, or at meetings. Your loved one may have changed immensely, and you are struggling to adapt to the new dynamics within your relationship. You may still feel hurt and angry from the behaviours you had to live with during the addiction, and are scared that if you own these feelings, your addict might relapse. Perhaps your loved one has relapsed, and you don’t know what to do for the best. Perhaps it is very hard to learn to start trusting your loved one again, after so many broken promises and betrayals.

If you have any of the above thoughts, then you are not alone. The weekly Family Programme will offer a safe space in which to educate yourself, get support, and become empowered.

Please contact: Fi Mackenzie, our Practice Manager, for more details.
E: fi@start2stop.co.uk
T: +44 207 581 4908