Perhaps you are one of millions who have struggled successfully with an alcohol or drug problem which is now solidly under control. Even though some days still feel hard, your life is definitely better. But there remains a sense that something is wrong. And you notice that you keep getting stuck in ways that feel old and all too familiar.
Perhaps you have been successful in managing your alcohol or drug problem because you have taken advantage of some of the many supports available. You may have actively participated in self help programs, substance-abuse recovery groups, and/or worked with a supportive therapist who has helped you to stay on track.
And now you are feeling ready to move on to another phase of treatment where you can more systemically attend to underlying problems and long-standing issues. If you are one of the many substance abusers who grew up in a dysfunctional family where alcohol abuse was part of the picture, this may mean focusing on issues related to being an ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic). And your work in this phase of recovery may move from an emphasis on support to a deeper kind of therapy that involves examination of the ways in which your current problems and ways of interacting are related to early experiences in your family of origin.
While your involvement in this deeper kind of therapy is not intended to ‘fix’ the family, it may impact the ways that you interact with family members. And this may have ripple effects that impact in positive ways the behavior of other family members.
If you are currently a parent, or planning to have kids in the future you may also have a sense, correctly, that the work you have done in shoring up your recovery is critical to the health of your family. Your investment in attending to deeper issues from your family of origin may be equally important in terms of interrupting transmission of non-adaptive behavior patterns into the next generation,
The challenge for the next phase of treatment is to find a skilled therapist with a track record of working with people in recovery who is also knowledgeable about ACOA issues. The work for this next phase of treatment may occur working with a therapist one–on-one in individual therapy, in a therapy group (especially a group with others in recovery who are working on family of origin issues or a combination of the two.
© 2018 Marsha Vannicelli