Client Feedback from Family Mobilisation & Intervention Workshop 23rd Jan 2016

Last Saturday we ran our first Family Mobilisation and Intervention Workshop here at the Rutland and it was so helpful to those who attended. Here is a sample of the feedback we received after the event;

"what I found most helpful was finding out the facts about addiction, formulating a plan to help and holding out some hope for a successful outcome...this helped me understand a lot better"

"what helped me was the shared experience of the group and now having a clear path for intervention with my loved one."

"I felt supported today in a good, safe environment."

"Outlining the nature of addiction and explaining how to deal with it helped me...also realising that other families are also suffering too & how it affects families in different ways helped."

"I was here as support for my sister but I feel like we tapped into a whole network of support that can help her husband and her to tackle the addiction."

"The sharing of experiences and the openness of all parties was very empowering. What I said and have been saying was validated today and left me in no doubt that my husband is an addict."

Tom’s Blog – How to Survive Christmas in Recovery

Doing anything for the first time can be a truly daunting experience. My first days in school, college and learning to drive are all times I can remember my anxiety and stress levels rising to frightening levels. Yet all of these seemed very easy by comparison when I was faced with the prospect of my first Christmas season in recovery. After decades of living a fear laden and isolated life of addiction, I was nothing short of terrified to see the first Christmas advertisements on TV.

I was armed with an endless supply of reasons why this was going to be impossible for me; memories of disastrous Christmases past haunted me and as I counted down the days my anxiety increased by the minute. Although I was attending several fellowship meetings a week along with a continuing care program I still believed I could in some way figure all this out by myself.

I have spent my entire life believing that opening up to others and becoming vulnerable was an instant sign of weakness and it was this thinking that kept me trapped in the ever tightening downward spiral of destruction. The main reason that I believed I would never survive the festive season was I had been ignoring the greatest gift that awaits anyone recovering from addiction, Connection with those who understand me.

Once I found the courage to speak about the incredible fears and anxiety that was crippling me, the response I received was overwhelming. What was once so mind bending to understand, became so much easier to navigate as my sponsor, long term fellowship members and continuing care counsellors helped me break down this huge unmanageable Christmas period into day by day recovery plans. They allowed me to lean into their experience and were there to support and encourage me when I wasn’t sure what to do next.

They helped me to identify my triggers and behaviours that would be part of my old addictive rituals. From work Christmas parties to family events we broke each one down and looked at its importance, its location and duration. If it wasn’t vitally important for me to be there or I felt I wasn’t strong enough I wouldn’t attend, choosing to meet a fellowship friend for coffee or attend a fellowship meeting. This would allow me to ground myself and renew my focus on recovery, rather than isolating and allowing resentment to find a way to grip me once again.

For the social occasions I needed to attend we developed a plan for each one, these plans usually start off with some prayer and meditation or a walk in nature begin the day as grounded as possible. I would attend a fellowship meeting as this would allow me to share my anxiety and reaffirm connection with others in recovery. Checking-in with my sponsor and fellowship friends on the phone became the back bone of each of these social situations. The routine of calling people before, during and after each occasion, proved to be of incredible benefit to me.

Simply knowing that someone was expecting calls from me at designated times allowed me to take responsibility for my own peace of mind and during these calls we would assess how I was feeling and make a plan until our next call was due. If I was beginning to feel tired or overwhelmed it was time to leave, rarely during that Christmas was I out passed 10pm. Something that I completely underestimated was the energy that social anxiety demands and how addiction can try to capitalise on it. The days following each of these occasions I often found myself extremely tired and as a result my addiction would try to plant ideas in my mind that were part of old and unhealthy behaviours, so staying connected with recovery and grounded as possible was vitally important.

This is when my incredible support network was there to guide me once again, just like the day of the event I would check-in with my sponsor and fellowship friends several times during the day. The first few times I put this plan of calls into action I felt silly and as if I was a burden on others, but the reality was vastly different. The people I spoke with knew the pain of addiction and danger of isolation and were there for me with incredible understanding and compassion, something that I took quite a while to find for myself.

That Christmas seemed so impossible at the time and now it seems like a distant memory, yet I have used the same plans for every event and occasion since and I have been in the privileged position to be there for others putting their recovery plans in place too.