Fighting Readmission Burnout for Families?


“Why aren’t they getting it?” We hear family members say this to us all the time. I often ask how long the loved one has been using and use the same analogy to help them look at addiction a little differently.

Here is my analogy: If we throw a toddler into a professional baseball game, of course, they will have no idea what is going on. Each time they are up to bat, they learn a little more – the weight of the bat, the weight or speed of the ball, the rules of the game, how to run, how to strategize, what works when they swing, what doesn’t work, what kind of obstacles will try to beat them, and a million more intricacies. That young child will not know what to do the first time in the game and he may not win his first game, but WE are all part of his team, and WE must get him back to the plate to try again.

From research we definitively know that substance use disorders are neurobiological diseases that develop over time and are affected by hundreds of factors. They are diseases that develop as brain connections are affected by bad relationships, lack of support, and many other influences, but most of all, trauma.

“a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions [between] genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”Substance use disorders focus the brain on finding ways to cope. Every drink or use reinforces the disease and strengthens harmful and dangerous pathways in the brain. If it is hard to imagine the neurological reinforcement process, think of the difference between a single thread or string dangling alone and a braided rope that is strong enough to support an anchor on a cruise ship. A new thread, a neurobiological connection, is added on for every use. That is a lot for the brain to unlearn and replace with healthier processes – and it takes time.
“a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions [between] genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. PIt’s okay and natural to not be an expert on recovery after one time at detox or treatment. Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is not easy, but anyone can recover from this disease by doing the work necessary. We can’t expect anyone to fully unpack years of trauma and unhealthy coping mechanisms after just several days in treatment. In a medical detox setting, the focus is on getting the physical body healthy again so they can focus on the emotional and psychological healing once they move from detox to a longer-term recovery program (hopefully that’s the plan).

Let’s focus on what was learned and how the person grew, even if it was only one thing learned or some small amount of progress; that translates to rewiring one of those threads in the brain successfully. If relapse happens, which unfortunately it commonly does, then we deal with the relapse immediately; without hesitation and we move closer to recovery and repairing the neurobiological connections.

It is easy and completely understandable to feel frustrated when a loved one needs to go to treatment AGAIN, especially when you have been a witness to all the pain that their disease has caused and how it affected those closest to the one struggling.

You can maintain your boundaries while still encouraging that person to try again. You can focus on the progress over the failures. You can remember that this person is alive to give fighting this disease another shot. And if you feel like giving up, you can lean on our team to help you build your hope back up. We are here for you, too.


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