There are characteristics of family systems that make family members vulnerable to problems with drugs and alcohol. Imbalanced or dysfunctional family interaction is the most critical feature making family members at risk for drug/alcohol dependence and addiction. Within the family system, patterns develop that can make the individual more vulnerable substance addiction.
It is important to look at the family as a system. Some key elements of family systems are that they all have rules, values, verbal and nonverbal methods of communicating, boundaries, roles and patterns of interaction. Systems always seek some level of balance. Alcoholism and drug dependency is a dysfunctional element in family life. The result is an imbalance forcing family members to compensate and give up aspects of their own sense of self in an attempt to keep the family in balance. One could describe the alcoholics/addicts family as a top-heavy top that tries to spin in a functional pattern but instead swerves to one side and skids in a diagonal direction until it comes to a stop.
The individuals in this system are all compensating in different yet similar ways. It’s as if they were walking around with a heavy weight on one shoulder; they either have to lean to one side to walk properly or they have to use all their energy to try to compensate and look like they are walking upright. Both positions require a great deal of energy.
Looking at the family as a system is imperative in addressing the problem of drug and alcohol dependency and addiction. If the family system does not change and the family members do not do their recovery work, the same dysfunctional styles of communication and interaction make the addict/alcoholic at risk for relapse when the addict/alcoholic returns to the family after getting into recovery.
To effectively treat the alcoholic/addict, the rest of the family system also needs treatment. The dysfunctional aspect of the disease has affected all members of the family. The high drug/alcohol relapse rate is often attributable to the lack of recovery by the family members. Too frequently, the alcoholic/addict is the focus of help, and the family members deny their own enabling and codependent behavior.
Families can make a difference by seeking help – not just for the alcoholic/addict – but for the entire family system.
Real Stories of Recovery
As soon as I walked through the doors of the Ranch I felt hope. My life had spiraled into depths of shame, misery, guilt, depression, sadness, and suffocating darkness prior to reaching those front doors. The 2 months that followed would forever change my life and provide a foundation within that is unshakable.
I had a head full of gospel knowledge and a heart full of shame. I felt like a failure. I hated who I was. That all changed during my stay at Renaissance Ranch. I quickly realized that I wasn't alone and that there were others who felt the same feelings of self-hatred, failure, and shame. This realization, coupled with the nonjudgmental environment of the Ranch, I was able to be completely honest and open for the first time in my life. From the guidance and empathy of my counselors and brothers, I learned it was okay to feel and I started to believe that there was hope.
Renaissance Ranch will always be a special place to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I had already attended one rehab facility. The Ranch truly saved my life by teaching me and allowing me to understand and love who I am.
My sobriety date is July 15 2008. And for that I am very grateful. The ranch has given Me the tools to live a life I never thought was possible. I have never forgotten the feelings I felt when I was there in treatment and that's what gets me through the day, is the feelings and brotherhood that I was so blessed with while I was in the ranch.
I have been called to serve a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the Fort Collins, CO mission. I am eternally grateful for the sacrifices and love of everyone at The Ranch. I attribute my recovery to God, hard work, and the things I learned while I was there. I am so excited to go serve my Heavenly Father, it has been a long hard road to get here but I know it is what he wants me to do. My heart is full of gratitude and love for those who have cared for me... Thank you for all you have done for me...
Renaissance Ranch gave me a gift that no amount of money can ever repay. Through their unique, caring approach I learned how much I was loved, and that I never had to feel alone every again.