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Why I am so excited about the Families Strong program

August 27, 2019

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I have two sons who are in recovery from substance use disorder. There was a period of four years between when we learned of their addiction and when they were ready to finally get treatment and begin their journey towards recovery. During this time, my husband and I had to figure out how to live our new reality. The stress and anxiety of this period took a toll on everything in our lives: our health, our marriage, relationships with our other children, our jobs and even our faith.

We eventually found a couple of good parent groups that were wonderful for support.

Just knowing that you were not alone, that other families were dealing with the same struggles, was immensely helpful.

Conversely, that was also the problem with the groups – they were families in different places on the same journey but without a roadmap, just trying to figure out what to do – and not do, on their own.

Some of the advice I received was helpful, but other things were not helpful and potentially dangerous. I learned phrases like ‘tough love,’ ‘enabling,’ ‘loving to death,’ and ‘rock bottom.’ All these concepts went against everything I felt as a mom. And I knew that ‘rock bottom’ might mean the death of my child.

The Families Strong program uses a peer support model, along with a curriculum adapted from an evidence-based, mental-health professional led model. In this setting, families can build critical social support while also learning effective motivational strategies for interacting with our loved ones and the importance of self-care. Through this process families are empowered to minimize negative effects on the family, to utilize appropriate interventions when the opportunity presents and, although the ultimate goal is to get your loved one into treatment, you can learn to live your life regardless of whether your loved one accepts the treatment or not.

Had this type of support been offered years ago when I was looking for help, I believe it would have made a significant difference in our situation.

It would have shortened the learning curve of what addiction really is, improved family relationships and possibly resulted in our sons accepting treatment sooner. I am excited and honored to be part of launching this program for families across the country.

I think the Families Strong program is one of the most important things we are doing at Addiction Policy Forum.

Learn more about Families Strong here

Michelle Jaskulski