As part of our monthly Facebook Live series, in which we regularly connect you with various addiction experts around common issues in treatment and recovery, on Tuesday, August 29, we welcomed Philip Causey, with the organization Family Recovery Solutions of Florida, to share his insights with our audience from around the country. Causey has been a longtime advocate for families in recovery, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. As a father of four, he watched three of his children struggle with substance abuse — so he knows firsthand what it’s like to have a child battling addiction. That intimate knowledge, birthed from experience, is what has given Causey a national platform for helping other parents and families in similarly harrowing circumstances. What is key to family recovery? Below are four insights, among others, that emerged in answer to this question—as highlights from the conversation that was led and facilitated by our very own Micah Robbins (get the unabridged conversation here):
- The best thing you can do for your loved one is get well yourself. Causey said parents will often ask him, “What’s the best thing I can do for my child?” His answer: “Get well yourself.” That’s because parents and family members of people in active addiction need to learn how to take care of themselves, rather than be in “rescue and codependent mode,” in Causey’s words.
To get well, Causey emphasizes you need the support of others. “I never heard of a recovery program that begins with ‘I,’” he said. He recommended joining a 12-step family support group—there are many options—and choosing a group that best fits your needs.
- Emotional acceptance is a necessary first step to further healing. In contrast, if you’re in emotional denial, (which can be a big obstacle to recovery in families impacted by addiction), you won’t be able to see what you need most in order to heal. That’s why Causey often leads an exercise in his family workshops that involves having participants identify the emotion they feel most in relation to a loved one’s addiction (be it fear, anger, shame, etc.). That process of acceptance is critical to self-care.
- Don’t let fear paralyze you. Here Causey referred to fear as more “illusion” than reality, quoting Churchill: that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The important thing, Causey went on, is to take some action (even when you’re afraid), and find what suits you best in the way of a support group or other recovery resource.
- Don’t try to fix your loved one: that’s not your job and it doesn’t work. With respect to parenting, Causey noted that there are healthy and unhealthy ways to be there for your child. Your job is to find healthy ways to be there foryour loved one—which will take the love and support of others on the same path who understand what you’re going through.