Chemical Dependency & The Family – from the Dawn Farm Education Series

family 2This program will provide participants with a basic understanding of how addiction impacts each member of a family. The About the presenter will describe the roles and behaviors that family members often acquire when living with addiction, ways in which each family member is affected by addiction in the family, and options for family members to obtain help to cope with addiction in the family.

Handouts and other goodies:


Related reading suggestions:



Chemical Dependency and the Family – 10/30/2012 from Dawn Farm on Vimeo.

Audio Only

About the presenter:

LynnLynn is the director of Eastern Michigan Universities 21st Century Community Learning Centers Bright Futures out-of-school-time programs.

Lynn has worked with challenged youth and their families, teaching, counseling, and leading for over 35 years in K-12 education as well as developing and directing an adolescent outpatient program for substance abusing youth and their families.  Lynn has a deep knowledge of the challenges of children of alcoholics, family systems as they relate to addiction and the process of recovery.  She is a strong supporter of 12-step recovery.

Lynn received her doctorate in educational leadership from EMU where she studied the culture, history and politics of local communities along the Michigan Avenue corridor in Southeastern Michigan.   She recently co-authored a book chapter published in Women as Leaders in Education (Praeger, 2011), entitled “Both Sides of Mentoring:  A Leader’s Story”.  She has two grown sons, a husband and two Shetland Sheepdogs, teaches graduate courses at Eastern Michigan University and is passionate about photography.

Intervention – Dawn Farm Education Series

This program will describe how the “Love First” process of Intervention can help chemically dependent people find recovery. Key elements of the “Love First” model for effective intervention with addicted individuals will be discussed. This program will bring PRACTICAL INFORMATION, HELP and HOPE to anyone who cares about a chemically dependent person, and to anyone who wants to learn more about the intervention process.

Handouts and other goodies:


Related reading suggestions:


Intervention by Jeff and Debra Jay from Dawn Farm on Vimeo.

Intervention by Jeff and Debra Jay from Dawn Farm on Vimeo.

About the presenters:

Jeff JayJeff Jay is a professional interventionist, educator and author. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, and a certified addictions professional. His work has appeared on CNN, the Jane Pauley Show, PBS, Forbes Online and in professional journals. He has served as president of the Terry McGovern Foundation in Washington, DC, and on the boards of directors for several professional organizations.

Jeff Jay is the co-author of Love First: A New Approach to Intervention for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, and co-author of At Wit’s End: What You Need to Know When a Loved One Is Diagnosed with Addiction and Mental Illness, a book on dual disorders published in April 2007 by Hazelden. He heads a national private practice that provides intervention and recovery mentoring services. He is a former clinician with the Hazelden Foundation and Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center.

Debra JayDebra Jay has worked as an interventionist since 1996 and is currently in private practice, providing intervention training and consultation services, with an additional specialty in older adult intervention. She previously worked for the Hazelden Foundation as an inpatient addiction therapist with both men and women in primary and extended care. She also facilitated the Hazelden family program and coordinated the older adult program.

Debra Jay is the author of No More Letting Go: The Spirituality of Taking Action Against Alcoholism and Drug Addiction, published by Bantam in 2006. She has also co-authored two Hazelden Guidebooks: Love First: A New Approach to Intervention and Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol or Medication Dependence.

Debra Jay is a nationally known speaker and has regularly appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Most recently, she was seen on The Dr. Oz Show. She is a graduate of Ohio State University.

Jeff and Debra live in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan and travel nationally. They write a monthly column on alcohol, drugs, and family for the Grosse Pointe News.

Tough love?

LrgWord_FamilyIn a public facebook post, David Sheff rails against “tough love” advice to kick addicted loved ones out of the house:

Like so many others, he’s been indoctrinated by counselors, therapists, and people in 12 step groups. Al-Anon is wonderful –it helped me– but it doesn’t tell us to let a child or spouse or other loved one live on the street. It doesn’t tell us to give them ultimatums or cut off contact with them. Yes, in those meetings we can learn from one another’s’ experiences and we can support one another, but we in those rooms are people like us, not addiction professionals. Some may have been lucky and that sort of touch love may have worked for them. But it’s dangerous.

Over and over, in program after program, we’re told that we must kick our loved ones out in order to get them into treatment, that they must hit bottom and drag themselves into treatment if ever they’ll fully embrace recovery. This warped and dangerous definition of tough love is killing people.

. . . within the limits of our own sanity, resources, etc, we mustn’t give up on someone we love who’s ill. As I’ve said, I don’t believe in tough love. I believe in love.

Maia Szalavitz offers a few critical points.

What people are misunderstanding here is the purpose of kicking a child out or cutting them off. Parents may have to kick a child out for their own sanity or to protect other family members— that’s reality and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the reality is *also* that this is more likely to hurt the addict than it is to help them. If you want to help a person get into recovery, you need to take positive, specific steps to do so, such as using techniques like CRAFT, motivational interviewing, harm reduction, etc. You can’t take those steps if you’ve cut that person out of your life, although you can try to ensure that they have access to people who do this. Again, you may need to cut ties *for you*— the point here is don’t pretend it’s for the addict. If you do that, you risk the outcome that happened to Terry McGovern— she died drunk in a snowbank after her parents cut her off and they never forgave themselves for taking the advice to do this. Again, it’s not selfish to try to save yourself and other family members— the harm comes from pretending that leaving addicts in prison or on the street *helps addicts*.

If you reach the point where you need the addict out of your home, it’s ok. But, be clear that you’re doing it for you (and the rest of the family), not them. When done to get the addict sober, it’s really just a high stakes gamble rooted in an illusion of control over the addict’s behavior and the illness.

The lives of addicts families often drift into being organized around the chaos, crises, secrets and shame that the addiction brings. What often gets lost are the goals and values family members. Deciding to reorganize personal and family life around healthy goals and values can be traumatic and lead to difficult choices.

However, one option left out of her list is family intervention–not the hit and run tough love interventions that you see on TV. Rather an intervention that’s rooted in love and honesty.

Here’s George McGovern on the subject:

Perhaps more to the point is the manner in which the Jays’ work through the mistaken views frequently held by an addict’s family. During the years of Terry’s drinking with its frequently sad results, she did seek help in treatment, counseling, and Alcoholics Anonymous programs. But we were repeatedly told by well-meaning, supposedly informed friends, that we would have to wait until Terry really “hit bottom.” The trouble is that when she “hit bottom,” she died.

Intervention is a way of erecting a “bottom” before such a tragedy.

Jeff Jay describes family intervention here. Note that he had been out of the house and on the streets. That didn’t get him sober. A loving family intervention was the beginning of his recovery. The Love First website is full of great information and resources.

The “trauma of recovery”

unexpected-road1Bill White with Stephanie Brown on the unexpected  “trauma of recovery”:

Bill White: Yes, you used the phrase “trauma of recovery” that just stunned me when I first read it.

Stephanie Brown: By 1994/95, we were well into analyzing family data and clearly saw that the experience of trauma, so starkly evident during active addiction, continues in the beginnings of recovery. Most people expect that when the drinking stops, everything is going to be fine, and it isn’t. It isn’t for the individual, and it definitely isn’t for the family. New kinds of problems actually emerge with recovery, totally unexpected because no one knows what to expect with abstinence, and the family members do not know how to operate without the drinking. The family system in active addiction achieves homeostasis by adapting to the pathology of addiction. The family system works during active addiction to maintain the status quo, but when you enter active recovery, those mechanisms no longer work. And, there are no family system mechanisms yet developed to support healthy living or healthy relationships. That leaves the family in the beginnings of recovery without structure to nurture and support the health of family members or the family as a whole. There’s a vacuum in the system, which often creates more trauma—new trauma—which we labeled the “trauma of recovery.” Clearly, this vacuum is a time when the family needs much greater external support to help “hold” them in their new recovery process. The transition from exiting formal treatment to achieving stable family functioning is still a huge vacuum for many families.

My Dad Will Never Stop Smoking Pot

sad girl by .indigo
sad girl by .indigo

The Atlantic published an personal essay about the impact of her father’s marijuana addiction on herself and her siblings.

Then there’s my sister, the baby, the one who struggled harder than any of us. She tried so desperately to finish high school, a rare feat in my family. Then she tried community college. As we sat outside at a café this year, talking about my dad’s temper and his rambling mind, she told me how she herself has started to smoke.

“I’m so sorry,” she kept repeating. “But it’s really not that bad, is it? And it’s relaxing. It makes everything okay for a while. Don’t be angry, please don’t be angry.”

I can’t be angry. I understand the appeal of marijuana: its soothing properties, its potential to help chronic pain sufferers, its medical implications. I also believe it should be legalized. In a world where alcohol and nicotine can be purchased at most corner shops, the argument against bringing pot sales out into the open is a weak one.

Yet I can be sad. So very little is understood about how marijuana impacts families. I can’t help but thinking that the cool, carefree users of today will be the parents of tomorrow.

My dad will never stop smoking pot. Sometimes I wonder about the man he might have been, and the lives we all might have had, if he’d never started.

via My Dad Will Never Stop Smoking Pot – Leah Allen – The Atlantic.

Anticipatory Grief and Family Recovery

familyBill White recently wrote a great post speaking to the experience of family members—first, the trauma of loving an addict, then the unexpected trauma of recovery:

There are numerous obstacles that inhibit family recovery from addiction.  One of the most critical is the cumulative effects of anticipatory grief (AG).  AG is a process through which grieving begins in expectation of an imminent loss.  It is the rehearsal–the progressive letting go–that unfolds as a loved one approaches death or as we experience the forthcoming relocation of a friend or the end of an intimate relationship.  AG is particularly evident when families have experienced numerous near-death experiences of a family member with a terminal illness.  AG helps prepare family members for the final loss event and may be experienced so intensely and completely that some family members feel little emotion in response when the anticipated death occurs.  While such lack of emotion can spark guilt in oneself and condemnation from others, it often reflects not a lack of grief but that a prolonged process of grieving has been prematurely completed.

For families facing addiction of a family member, every unexpected absence, every late-night phone call and every knock on the door elicits images of injury and death.

via Anticipatory Grief and Family Recovery | Blog & New Postings | William L. White.

Home is where the meth is

meth-lab514_0An anthropologist embedded with meth addicts in Missouri and has an interview in the New Republic.

The trailer parks of Jefferson County, Missouri, are a far cry from the international cartels of Breaking Bad, but this is the real picture of meth in America: Eveready batteries and Red Devil Lye on kitchen counters, used syringes mixed in with children’s homework, drawers full of forks bent out of shape by chronic users’ obsessive tinkering. Over the course of nearly a decade studying home meth production in the rural U.S., SUNY Purchase anthropologist Jason Pine has looked on as Jefferson County’s practiced ‘chemists’ cook their product, watched addicts inject their own veins, and visited houses destroyed by meth lab explosions. “Jefferson County is largely rural,” Pine told me. “Houses can be quite secluded. It has rocky ridges that make it unsuitable for farming, but great for meth cooking.”

If you’re interested, a couple more articles by the author are available here and here.

via Meth: Adderall for construction workers | New Republic.

What it’s all about

I’ll head into the holiday with a story from Dawn Farm’s holiday mailing. After all, recovery is what it’s all about.

singing about freedomKeri1-640px

Keri grew up in a close, creative family. From an early age, music was there. “I think I started performing when I was in preschool,” she remembers.

She had real talent—everyone saw it. But when Keri was 15 years old, she took a sip of alcohol at a party. “I loved it. I didn’t want to stop.” That night, she had her first blackout.

She danced and sang her way through high school—but alcohol was always there and, soon, cocaine. While she thrived on the attention she received for her talent, she was deeply insecure.

“It seemed like nothing was enough—and my alcohol and drug use got bad really fast. I knew my life would never be the same.” By 16 she was in her first treatment facility—one of nine. Coke, pain killers and eventually heroin became a daily part of her life.

Keri2-314pxKeri dropped out of school and went to work at a head shop. Despite drug treatment centers and psych units, her addiction progressed. “Heroin became more important than Christmas—more important than all the things I loved.” Her writing and her music stopped.

On one especially grim day, Keri was standing in a pawn shop, trading her beloved Martin guitar for drug money. The pawnbroker said, “Are you sure?”

On a cool day in April 2011, a broken, 21-year-old Keri arrived at Dawn Farm. “It was the one place on earth I really didn’t want to go.”

She had been at our detox before, but had resisted attempts to enter the Farm. She relapsed repeatedly, but one day she was desperate enough.

“I really didn’t want to go to prison. I had run out of money and ideas.”

It was hard at first. But Keri began to connect to the women at the Farm, as well as to the recovering community. “The first couple weeks were full of fear, but then I began to hope. I started to get better—I picked up a guitar and began to sing.” Despite the rigors of treatment, she blossomed.

Keri completed treatment and entered transitional housing. She is sober today—and grateful. “Dawn Farm helped bring me back to life,” she says.

Keri has enjoyed musical success—including being a contestant on television’s American Idol. But when asked about what makes her happy today, it isn’t fame.

“I get to help other people—my sponsees, people at Spera (where she cooked meals weekly as a volunteer). To see a person get that spark of recovery and hope is the coolest thing ever.”

The judge released Keri early from probation so she could fly to Hollywood for her “Idol” tryouts—but not until she sang a song for the court.

What would Keri say to the hurting alcoholic or addict?

“Call the Farm. Give yourself a chance. These people believed that I could change—until I had faith in myself.”

Today Keri plays, sings and stays clean and sober. She loves her life.

“If you’re like me, you can still ask for help,” she says. “If I can stay sober, you can too. There’s always hope.”

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

You can make a difference

Nearly 20% of our residential beds are filled with people receiving scholarships–people who would otherwise be unable to get high quality treatment of adequate  duration and intensity. The generosity of our donors makes this possible. These donations also support 1000 admissions per year to our Spera Recovery Center, our 149 beds of transitional housing, as well as our education series and Family Matters groups that help struggling families.


Learning Non-Reaction in Recovery

Make Me Laugh
Make Me Laugh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anna David shares her 10th step work with us. One of my favorite things in recovery is that way many people with solid recovery share their 10th step stuff with us in a way that provokes laughter with them. This laughter, which in other contexts could be cutting or toxic,  somehow fosters insight, fellowship and growth.

I cannot afford to continue to have the reactions that I do.

The fact is, even at 13 years of sobriety, I’m a big reactor. You could argue that part of this is good: I have a near childlike exuberance for things at times. Yay, I’m fun! But you could also argue that most of this is bad—and when I say bad, I mean bad for me more than anyone or anything else. At the end of last week, I had a few stressful things come up—things that a person with a very calm sensibility might have taken in, nodded at and gone about their business.

A related epiphany: I still pretty much think the rules don’t apply to me, that I shouldn’t have to put up with certain things. Part of this is the result of the way I was raised and things that happened that showed me I didn’t have to follow the rules but at this point it doesn’t matter why I’m like that; the point is that believing this only causes me pain. Right now I have a piano player who lives above me, a guy I’ve attempted to reason with about how much his musical theater act upstairs at all hours interferes with my wellbeing and ability to work. We’ve come to no resolution. But the one thing I’m realizing that I haven’t tried is to just see if I can tolerate it—to see if I can remind myself when I hear it that this is the risk you take when living in an apartment building, that I can move out when my lease is up (and always, from now on, take an upper unit) and that I can leave when the noise gets to be intolerable. I’ve noticed that I jump right to This is a disaster which makes me believe I need a dramatic solution, skipping through humbly trying out various ways of making a situation more tolerable.

via Learning Non-Reaction in RecoveryAfter Party Chat.

“Recovery High” a Respite for Young Addicts


Maybe this is a better way to address pediatric addiction?

Called The Bridge Way School, the specialized high school in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia focuses on getting teenagers back on track with their education and lives after exiting rehab. It is the only school of its kind in the region – one of only some three dozen nationwide.

“We have kids come in with 30 days [sobriety], they’re not sure how school is going to go, they haven’t done well in school for a while and then they see the environment that we have here,” says Rebecca Bonner, who runs the school. “And in two or three weeks, you see kids who haven’t worked in class for years who say ‘Oh, I’m getting a B’ and they’re actually working.”

Ranging from 9th to 12th grades, every student is recovering from some type of addiction and goes through regular coursework like English, Math and Science. But unlike typical schools, the teens talk about their recovery regularly.

Students begin their day with a 20 minute face-to-face with a counselor and staff to discuss how they’re feeling and whether they’ve been triggered to use again.

“If it’s serious enough, our counselor may just pull that kid for 20 minutes. It is so different from what a regular school does where a kid might sit on something all day,” Bonner said. “They learn nothing because they’re processing whatever that is. We try to catch it early so they can process that and get right back on track.”

Before leaving for the day, the students have another sit down to discuss their plans for the afternoon and evening. They also spend about 50 minutes, four times a week, in group sessions talking about their addiction and recovery with peers.

“The adults can say whatever we say and we can be supportive and encouraging, but the kids are the ones that give each other the support. That is positive peer pressure,” Bonner said.

via “Recovery High” a Respite for Young Addicts | NBC 10 Philadelphia.