S. Jeffrey Jones- BLOG

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18 Dec

Why Mixed Messages Push You to Grow


Mixed messages are one thing around the problem of addiction. So many that we may be numb to them. Some mixed messages are obvious; some are not. The issues are complicated, require focus, attention, and thinking. Even if addiction is not something in your life now, mixed messages are. In the Bangor Daily News, an article updated on September of 2017, “Trump Sends Mixed Messages About Addiction” is an example on a national level. The mixed message is Trump agreeing that the opioid crisis is a national emergency two days after his health and human services director stated that the opioid crisis was not a national emergency. The stakes involve increased funds to better address the opioid epidemic, or not.

On a local level, mixed messages are obvious as well. In January of 2016, recreational marijuana in Colorado became legal. Plenty of dispensaries have gone into business. Teens may hear the facts: Teen brain development is interrupted from marijuana smoking, rewards from marijuana in the adolescent’s brain could have a stronger influence in their decision-making, as well as forming habits that are carried into adulthood. But they may see their parent smoke marijuana and hear them say, “adults brains are fully developed and marijuana is not a problem.” What message do they believe? More importantly, what message does their behavior reflect. If you say one thing and do another, you send a mixed message.

When a teen has been caught smoking marijuana several times, is not going to class, and has failing grades - simply assessing the teen, developing a treatment plan of consequences, and trying to get parents to support the plan usually doesn’t end well. Simply focusing on the teen’s problem of underage marijuana use without cost efficient strategies to engage “the problem around the problem” - the parents, the school system, and the community - the problem with the underaged marijuana use is not solved for any length of time. The Deep Community is also a cost efficient strategy to engage “the problem around the problem,” communicate with other parents and people who have lived this dilemma first hand.

On a personal level, imagine you’re a parent in a situation similar to the one above. Your friends are at your birthday party. Some of them are smoking marijuana in the backyard. They want you to indulge, like you have before. “It’s your birthday!” Whether you indulge or not, your behavior will send a message to your teen, your spouse, your friend’s and most importantly to yourself.

Become open to the possibility of internal mixed messages. Part of us that wants what it wants when it wants it, and another part of ourselves asks, “yes, but. . .” Example: One part saying, “This is my birthday and I deserve to indulge right now.” And another part, saying, “Hey, this isn’t a good idea right now.” Generally, the volume on the first message is turned up and the other turned down or off. Recognizing the mixed messages inside of ourself and setting boundaries with one’s self is key to navigating mixed messages around us and setting boundaries that best serve us over time.

Of course, addiction amplifies one’s own internal mixed messages, but know that hearing mixed message from your loved one with addiction will make it more challenging for you to navigate, but will provide much opportunity for growth. You can do what you’ve done in the past, or try something new. Take the risk. It starts with you, your growth.

The Deep Community is a safe place to learn and connect with like-minded people. raise awareness, practice, ask for an accountability buddy, support others, and become more congruent in your world.

Learn more about“The Family Recovery Solution Deep Community” and creating optimal conditions in your family to promote a healing process to end suffering in this generation. http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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11 Dec

Do You Know Why Interventions Don’t Always Solve the Problem?


Bob’s daughter, Betty had been in treatment twice and was back on heroine in two weeks. Bob was scared. Barbara, Betty’s mom was on the other side of the country. Fifteen years ago, Barbara found a new relationship, divorced Bob and moved a thousand miles away. Betty felt deserted by her mom. Bob had tried to facilitate healing between them but to no avail. Over time, he had watched Betty struggle with her feelings and become more distant. Now she wasn’t coming home and he didn’t know where she was sleeping. He felt desperate and thought about hiring an interventionist. Again.

Unhealed Family Trauma Hides Under Drug Use

Opiates are designed to address physical pain, but they also numb emotional pain. When an individual has emotional pain and opiates are their only strategy to mange the pain, it is a slippery slope to dependence, addiction, and increased risks. When addiction treatment is not able to address the underlying unhealed trauma, their recovery is at great risk.

Temporary Relief

Opiates do provide relief. Temporary relief. Optimally, the individual using opiates understands what pain is being covered up, which is the case for prescribed opiates. Too often, a patient will go from a prescribed medication to heroine, which is also an opiate.

In the addiction treatment world, what underlies the pain is not always clear in primary care (first 28 day in treatment), which is why the next step in treatment is extended care.

You Can’t Make Someone Heal

However, we can create conditions that are most optimal for the potential of healing. This is exactly why treatment can be successful. However, when there is unhealed family trauma underlying the addiction, it may be nearly impossible for treatment to address it given there are structural obstacles: shame, limitations of treatment, time, money and location of family.

Now there are online tools that approach addiction in the family as a structural problem with structural solutions. The family can engage in these strength based solutions to motivate their loved one with addiction, complement, enhance and extend addiction treatment services, as well as improve relapse rates after addiction treatment.

Case Study: Unhealed Family Trauma, Relapse and a Start to Family Healing

Barbara was looking online and found “The Family Recovery Solution Deep Community,” an online family recovery community. She learned more about patterns in families with addiction, the impact of divorce on children, and trauma. She started to connect some dots of potential contribution to her daughter’s lack of success with treatment and history of heroine use. She knew that Betty had been devastated, perhaps traumatized after the divorce, especially after Barbara moved across the country to start a new relationship. Reasoning with Betty wasn’t working.

After not speaking to Bob for years, she invited him to check out the same information online - patterns in families with addiction, the impact of divorce on children, and trauma. Bob was curious, specifically about his hair trigger to anger towards Barbara. Eventually, Barbara initiated a family process with Bob. They both invited Betty to join them.

Here’s an example of the voice message they left for Betty:

Betty, Through your suffering, you’ve identified somethings that we’ve always known, which is how hurt we are and how our divorce impacted you. In our frustration with you and your addiction, we recognize our frustration with ourselves. This did not begin with you, or with us either. It goes back a long ways in our family, and maybe this is the generation where we can stop the transmission of suffering.

We’re going to engage in a healing process to stop the suffering. Betty, we would love to have you join us. But if you’re not ready, we’re going to love you anyways, and we invite you to join us whenever you are ready.

Betty was deep in her addiction and didn’t respond to either parent’s invitation. Bob and Barbara went ahead, but emailed Betty notes from the meetings. When Betty read how Bob had recognized his pattern of anger with his mother and had used this old stance of anger to blame Barbara, Betty responded, “WTF?”

She didn’t think her parents could ever talk again, and here was her dad in this process with her mom. After reading Betty’s email, both Bob and Barbara called Betty. In their own way, they invited Betty into the family process, again. Betty never responded. But after several days, Betty checked herself into the same inpatient treatment center she had been in before.

Summary

After Betty’s experience of being abandoned by her mother and not feeling heard by her for years, Betty found a friend in heroine’s ability to numb her pain. Her mother found “The Family Recovery Solution” online and started to learn more. When Betty saw her parent’s interest in healing this trauma, Betty wanted to go into treatment.

Next Steps

Learn more about“The Family Recovery Solution Deep Community” and creating optimal conditions in your family to promote a healing process to end suffering in this generation. http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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27 Nov

The Problem Around the Problem in Ourselves


The problem is the addiction in the family. The problem around the problem in ourselves is not a deficiency. The problem around the problem is biological - our nervous system. Our nervous system’s reactions to the behavior in the family that comes from the addiction. Wether you are conscious of it or not, your nervous system is always operating.

Just like the slow, gradual process of addiction, the gradual process of more and more negative stress from addiction in the family activates a sequence of events in the body of each family member—automatic reactions and contracted patterns of coping. Internal Warning Signs

Stephen Porges’ visual diagram of the nervous system (see Diagram 1) is one way to understand this slow progression of stress negatively impacting family members. What Stephen Porges calls social engagement (the horizontal axis in the bottom of the diagram) represents the nervous system in a state of calmness. The body is warm, relaxed and present. At social engagement, the cortex has optimal functioning with optimal capacity to catch a lower brain impulse, pause and consider potential scenarios that may result if the impulse is or is not acted on, and make an informed decision. But when there is a stimulus—like concern over an addicted loved one’s behavior—and the person lives with this stressor for an extended period of time, the baseline of social engagement moves up. Post Image

In Diagram 2, note that the baseline of social engagement increases on the vertical arousal part of the scale in response to an ongoing stimulus in the environment (such as behavior of the addicted individual). Post Image

Here’s an example. Imagine you have a loved one newly in recovery, and you feel hopeful about their recovery. But they were supposed to be home from work an hour ago. You are becoming concerned and anxious. You think about the last time they tried sobriety. Your self-talk (thinking) can create a story that doesn’t have a happy ending. Maybe you think they stopped off at a bar. The focus of your attention stays on the story even though you do not know if it is true. Almost imperceptibly, tension increases, perhaps in your jaw and your arms. Your speech may become more rapid. In this escalated state of the nervous system, the cortex’s capacity to function optimally is decreased. That is, you may be less able to catch a lower brain impulse, pause to consider potential scenarios, and make an informed decision. From the above example, you call your loved one, get their answering machine, and leave a message letting them know your concerns and feelings. Over time, your nervous system and thinking processes have become conditioned to respond to worst case scenarios thinking as a way to prepare for addiction problems.

Diagram 3 shows the thinking process in this example when the nervous system is activated. Based on a past belief, we become worried or frustrated and take an action (the behavior) which leads to challenging feelings about our situation, which reinforces our belief system - which we do not know is true. This leads to more negative thoughts, and the cycle repeats. In the very broadest sense, when our thinking process is caught in this cycle, it is an addictive pattern that, over time, leads to less and less self-control or ability to regulate the impulse.

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There are also other problematic outcomes of significance related to the elevated baseline of social engagement in the nervous system. The person who spends long periods of time in a constantly activated state may not recognize that they are in an activated state. Instead, it eventually becomes normalized and may become a part of the person’s identity. The focus of attention is habitually focused outward. They may have little awareness of body sensations from the activated nervous system, and they may also have less awareness of the impact the stress is having on them.

As Diagram 4 shows, with an elevated baseline, the same level of activation results in dangerously near overwhelm and the state of freeze. Through this process, the baseline of your nervous system has slowly, almost imperceptibly, increased. Your ability to fully relax in your own body doesn’t happen like it used to, and you may not even notice. Post Image

The slow, progressive, almost imperceptible process of the baseline of the nervous system increase is similar to the slow, progressive, almost imperceptible process of addiction. In some ways, they reflect one another.

As humans with nervous systems created for survival, we have a natural response to focus on differences rather than similarities - a survival instinct. That is especially true when we are in highly activating environments like families with addiction. The diagram to the left shows that the same level of activation from an elevated baseline results in near overwhelm vs. with a baseline at what Stephen Porges calls Social Engagement the same level of activation results in a greater window of tolerance.

This is a physiological response, which is not the fault of any family member. But understanding this intellectually and practicing regulating your own nervous system when you need it most are two very different things. To best use addiction in the family as an opportunity to transform your family, you need understanding, practice, and the ability to calm yourself or as the diagram shows, bring your baseline down at will. This can start with realizing this is not your fault and you are not alone. You are not alone.

In the Deep Community, there are likeminded people, videos and pdf’s that provide you with tools to practice. Self empowering tools.

Learning to manage your nervous system gives you the ability to catch your impulses before they come out as reactions and words that can be interpreted as “fighting words.”

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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27 Nov

The Problem Around the Problem in Our Families with Addiction


The problem is the addiction in the family. The problem demands attention and intense focus from everyone. Of course, this needs to happen, AND the problem around the problem needs to be recognized and changed. In the problem around the problem are elements to the solution to the problem, elements that do not get recognized. Even more specifically, the family is an element of the solution that does not get recognized.

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to recognize the problem around the problem in the family, and I’m going to invite you to learn how to change it.

In families with addition stress incrementally ratchets up. As the addiction increases general patterns of anxiety and coping emerge. People are doing their best to deal with the level of stress in the environment, in themselves, and trying to stay connected as a family. With everyone doing their very best, patterns of coping appear as roles. Family members can stay in a role, or move from role to role. The roles are behavioral strategies to cope. To see a video where I talk about this pattern go to: http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

The visual diagram I use to make these patterns visible is called the Spotlight Diagram. A large circle in the middle represents the individual with addiction in your family. Three lines at 1, 3, and 5 o’clock come from the center and go out to smaller circles. The lines represent different communication styles and patterns. One is similar behaviors with no problematic consequences. Another is staying connected but not talking about the problem. The last role at 5 o’clock wants to talk about the problem and does so sharply, with accusation. The circle at 7 o’clock snuggled up close to the center circle is another role. This role represents the myopic focus of trying to fix the problem or the person. Another role is at about 10 o’clock with no line. No communication - been there, done that they’ve pulled away. Maybe a boundary to take care of them self. Maybe a complete cut off of communication. All of these roles orient around the center role.

The Spotlight Diagram is useful for a structural approach to understanding patterns that naturally arise in families with a loved one in addiction. Over the next several days, think about this description and watch your interactions with your loved one. There’s a lot you can learn about your own strategies. As you can see in the video, when families expect their loved one with addiction to get into recovery to solve the problem and the family does not change, four problems arise. Four problems that play out over generations. Check it now: http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

Solving the problem around the problem is a matter of changing the structure of the Spotlight Diagram, changing the relationship with your loved one in addiction, and stop the family structure of orienting around them. Changing the structure of the Spotlight Diagram is the potential solution around the solution of your loved one going into recovery.

If you’re going to take this recovery thing seriously, doing your own work of change is crucial. An individual counselor or psychologist can be helpful for you. The Deep Community can be helpful for everyone’s understanding of structural change and actually doing it.

Join me in one of the two weekly chats. http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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27 Nov

Empathizing with & Surviving the Cultural Addiction Paradigm


The Cultural Addiction Paradigm is the invisible many-sided patterns of thinking about addiction that have trickled down on all of us over many generations. What’s important here is the “many-sided patterns of thinking” and the trickle down onto all of us, which distorts the content of our thinking, specifically our thinking about solutions.

From history, an example is Johann Hari’s book, “Chasing The Scream” (on page 27) about the Harrison Act of 1914, “It was more comforting to believe that a white powder was the cause of black anger, and that getting rid of the white powder would render the black man docile. . “ The Cultural Addiction Paradigm has a narrow focus on a problem and comes up with a narrow solution and minimizes the larger context. The narrow focus being on the “evil” white powder and the solution was to get rid of it, which in this example totally misses the larger context - the black/white tension surrounding the problem with the white powder in 1914.

A parable I use in the book, “The River of Recovery: The Family Journey” is “The Parable from The River” which tells the story of a village by a river. One day a baby floating down the river is noticed. Someone immediately swims out to rescue the baby. Slowly, more and more babies float by, needing rescued. The majority focus is on rescuing babies, so much that only one lone voice asks about going up stream to look who’s throwing the babies in the water.

The point is that our Cultural Addiction Paradigm has a myopic focus on the problem and the solution. The reality is we need to focus on both the problem, and the problem around the problem - the context in which the problem emerges. Unless we focus on both, like The Parable of The River Story” we have more and more of the same problem.

We empathize with the Cultural Addiction Paradigm because this is our history, this is the reality. It’s important for us to accept our history. I know there were good folks who did their best to manage addiction in the past. There were also plenty of less then optimal situations in our history as well. If this is of interest to you, pick up a copy of Johann Hari’s book, or check him out on youtube.

But, we can learn a new skill - mindful focus of attention. First, focus on the problem. Look deeply into it. Then step back. Let your awareness expand. Consider everything around the problem. Give yourself some time. Now, think of the points you gleaned from your expanded awareness and bring them to bear on the problem in the narrow focus.

You can use this mindful focus of attention on any problem.

When we have a problem, like addiction in a loved one, just like “The Parable of The River Story” know that the tendency inside of you will be to focus on your loved one’s problem, or to find a solution for them. The Cultural Addiction Paradigm reinforces this myopic focus. Yes, it’s important to know the problem, AND we need to look at the problem around the problem. To come up with the best solution we need both.

Learn how to use this mindful focus of attention. Check out the Deep Community. http://www.thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/families/

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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26 Nov

The Journey to Recovery


Often, the journey to recovery is seen as a journey your loved one with addiction needs to take alone. Cultural thinking would see recovery as a circular journey going from stage to stage, with relapse bringing your loved one with addiction back to where they started. It’s realistic to consider that relapse may happen. However, the circular imagery is less than inspiring, for your loved one newly in recovery or still using, and for the family. Often, a family engagement process is less than inspiring because of the negative labels and insinuations inferred. This creates defensiveness, shame, and another obstacle.

At The Family Recovery Solution (TFRS), we’ve shifted the imagery from the circular image that comes with a felt sense of “waiting for the next shoe to drop” to a linear process with a meandering river image that comes with the felt sense of a gentle flowing river.

Imagine the addiction recovery journey like a river trip. Your family together in the same boat. There’s rapids on this river, but if we learn some skills, practice them, and work together there’s a much better chance that when we hit rough water - or in this case, relapse, we’ll be prepared. The focus shifts from a myopic focus on your loved one to recognizing your surroundings, learning new skills and practicing them for the good of everyone’s safety on the journey. On this journey, the family will do best if each person looks at their own strengths, develops them, and contributes in a way that’s important to them. This may be an idealistic image, but it has potential for everyone in the family to engage from an empowered place, and the potential to use addiction in the family as a transformative process, for everyone.

This is a big shift in imagery. An ideal image provides inspiration, motivation, and teamwork. The potential exists for families to use their individual and family strengths to reorient the structure of the family, and do it with others in the family.

You may feel it’s necessary to go through this transition alone. That you want to keep this secret. It may sound counterintuitive, but the messages that drive this secrecy come from the culture. It’s not your shame! The potential here is using addiction in the family as an opportunity for transformation.

Human Transformation occurs in the context of human relationships. Think back to every important transformative experience in your life – good and bad. We think you’ll find that it happened in a social context; even those experiences that seem, on the surface, personal and individual are almost always connected to people. To transform we need other people. Family. Friends. Community.

Our best opportunity to transform is by forging community with people who have been there – walked in our shoes – and people who are going through what we’re going through, right now. People willing to share perspectives, connect, work together, help and be helped. Whether you need help, or a sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father, or grandparent, there is a place for you in The Family Recovery Solution Deep Community.

We have the People, Resources and Expertise to make a difference in your life and the lives of your family. There’s a place for your family in our family

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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04 Apr

Parents Finding Hope in Community


For six years, Phillis struggled with an autoimmune disease - a medical conundrum. Essentially, human tissue attacking itself. The experience of physical pain, bedridden for days, coupled with dark emotions spiraling into a fog resulted in depression. At the epicenter was loss of her role as mother to her daughter, 14 year old Ella. Because of the frequency and volume of arguments, Ella would spend nights with her 18 year old boyfriend, Buckle where she felt seen, recognized, and heard. Ella’s interest for connection with her mother was numbed by the drug induced ecstasy she shared with Buckle.

With everyone in the family doing their best to compensate for both an incapacitated family member unable to fulfill their role, and drug use of a teen, the invisible structure of the family incrementally increased in rigidity. Unable to provide an emotional connection with Ella, Phillis’ inner world was haunted with guilt, memories of her own childhood, and her mother’s struggle with Lyme’s disease.

Now, more then ever, she wanted to be a guiding presence in Ella’s life. But, her own illness prevented this ideal and she hated it. She tried setting boundaries with Ella, but anger and resentment would leak out. After the police arrested Ella for driving after drinking and found cocaine in the car, Art, Ella’s dad moved from out of state into Phillis’ house to help. Despite her parent’s suggestions, cajoling, pleading, demands, bribery, and threats, Ella spent nights at Buckle’s.

Art couldn’t bear to see Ella tormented and did everything he could to ease her pain. Never raising his voice, Art patiently listened to Ella’s anger and blame of her mother. Art naturally empathized with Ella. Phillis felt alienated. Underlying issues of their divorce was amplified. Ella’s absence in the evenings left space for Phillis and Art to scrape old wounds and ignite old arguments.

Only after Art’s business partner of 22 years expressed concern about him, did Art consider the impact of his family situation on the rest of his life. Art assumed intervention would initiate an outside process that he feared would further disrupt his family. He took action to research options online. The family recovery deep community was the only thing he found that allowed him to listen anonymously, ask questions when he was ready, and get feedback from like minded families in similar situations. To his surprise, the deep community also provided resources for him to assess himself, and his family’s situation. For the first time, he felt hope and started to understand a pathway of actions he could take toward change. The community provided options for Art to learn at his pace, while staying engaged with the family situation. He started to see a pathway to healing. Hope.

He brought information he was learning into conversations with Phillis. She was most struck with Art’s new ability to name when he was getting triggered, name that he needed space, and name that he would come back to the conversation when he was able. When Art asked her to join him in listening to a guest in the Community Show, she agreed. No fear of being seen by a neighbor or having to show her face at a meeting in a local church basement.

In the community, they read a transcript of a doctor being interviewed about multigenerational trauma, “The child is aware of its own body and can also feel the tension, rigidity, and pain in the body of the mother. If the mother is suffering, the baby suffers too. The pain never gets discharged.” Something rang true for Phillis, a curiosity about challenges of the past contributing to challenges today. She was struck with the concept of using strengths from the past to best manage a present situation, and how to transform one’s story about the present by better understanding the past.

Phillis looked at the videos in the community that led up to the family map process. What haunted her in the past, was now a source of curiosity. Curiosity building. Art noticed that the frequency and duration of their arguments had decreased. They both committed to the family map process.

On the day that Phillis and Art were going to be online for the morning with a facilitator taking them through the family map process, Ella stopped in. She couldn't help but hear that her parents spoke to one another differently. She didn’t trust this new change, and left once she got her clean laundry.

For Art and Phillis the family map process that morning temporarily shifted their attention from the focus on their personal positions and feelings between them today, to expanding their understanding of the roots of those positions that automatically occurred between them.

Phillis was most struck with her insight between the lack of connection she has with her daughter and the lack of connection she had with her own mother. Incapacitating physical illness of her mother, and now her own illness was the common thread. She recalled that when her mother was bedridden, her grandmother moved into the role of taking care of her and her sister. Now it was different. Like an imbalanced hanging mobile seeking stability, Art had moved into the care taking role to help with tasks that were not getting done, an effort to stabilize the system. Phillis had resented Art for having a better relationship with their daughter. Now she saw that it was not his fault, and they both were seeing how his style of helping their daughter was also contributing to the problem.

This understanding, helped Phillis to dis-identify from personally holding Art responsible for “intentionally” pushing her out of a relationship with Ella. Something was different. In an argument, Phillis saw Art stop, look down, and take a breath before acknowledging he needed to take a break. Phillis named still being triggered by Art having a “better” relationship with Ella then herself. Small, incremental steps grew towards trust.

In the community, Phillis talked about their daughter’s situation with her boyfriend, the drugs, the police, their worry and not knowing what to do. To her surprise, several people responded with their own similar story and what they tried. One community member made herself available to answer any questions in the future. Instead of shame and embarrassment, Phillis felt supported and hopeful. In time, Phillis and Art aligned on a unified recovery message to their daughter.

Unlike the cultural norm that focuses solely on the addicted individual in the family, Art and Phillis felt fortunate they started their own work and acted when they did. They both set aside pain between them long enough to unify to help their daughter. Through a process of exploring resources in the community, researching options, and individual conversations with community members, Phillis and Art found criteria for treatment referrals and chose one with a strong family program. They were committed to continuing the work they had started; they were committed to continuing to be a part of the solution.

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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24 Mar

Finding Bliss in Community.


Bliss called me from her hospital bed. Emphatically, insisting I do an intervention on her son, Buckle. In an exhaustive tone, she explained that (as a result of past pain) everyone else in the family cut Buckle out of their lives. She described details of three previous treatment programs, and that Buckle had just relapsed 13 days after discharge from his last treatment. Because of their excellent website, she considered it one of the finest treatment centers in the West. “But they failed me.” Bliss saw her role as persisting, fighting, and advocating for her son, which often meant pushing the treatment center’s policy. With a lilt in her voice, Bliss insisted I convince Buckle to go back into treatment. Treatment number four.

Years of history have clarified the symbiotic relationship between the addicted individual and the advocate role in the family. The progression of the addiction is proportionate to the level of focus and concern from family. Of course Bliss was deathly concerned for Buckle. So concerned that she struggled to see her own needs. With initial reluctance, she began to accept that her pushing through a traffic light about to turn red and getting into an accident, put her own life in danger. Potential death - the same kind of danger she attempted to prevent with Buckle.

From her hospital bed, Bliss was able to connect with like-minded peers online who had stories of struggles with their own adult child’s addiction. The stories percolated slowly into the corners of her mind. Incremental insights. Momentary acknowledgement before sliding into familiar shame. Connecting her past desperation to save Buckle, with skills learned in the community, specifically the Belief System Cycle, inspired her to create new beliefs. Days confined to her bed, resulted in awareness of her habitual thoughts that historically lead to unrealistic expectations she had of herself.

She needed to understand what contributed to risking her own life in a car accident. From the Spotlight Diagram, she learned that her habitual strategy of advocacy with Buckle was not her fault. But now she knew, it was her responsibility to take different actions. Continuing through videos in the family community inspired her to consider going back into therapy, for herself. She felt a surge of hope.

Something was changing inside. Upon seeing Buckle while discharging from the hospital, she said, “Son, because of your suffering, you have helped me to see my own suffering and how frustrated I am with myself. This patterns go back a long ways in my family. Maybe this is the generation where we can stop the transmission of suffering. I’m committed to a healing process. You can join me. If you are not ready, know that I love you and you are always welcome to join me.”

Buckle expected her complaints and pleading. But instead felt very alone, maybe for the first time in his life. Was she giving him permission to drink or giving him full responsibility? He drove Bliss home in silence.

Jeff Jones LPC, CACIII, CAI and Certified Intervention Professional, has created a online family community for two reasons: 1) practice, support and gradual mastery of core teachings from their loved one’s treatment center, and share it with like-minded peers, 2) provide a confidential, low cost entry for families to reach out, learn, and gain skills, ideally before a crisis.

You can learn more at: http://thefamilyrecoverysolution.com/community/


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20 Sep

Addiction & Family Transformation Potential


On the surface, The Family Recovery Solution™ (TFRS) is a three phase process that offers families two levels of engagement. Under the surface, TFRS offers family members a pathway to transformation.

First, we create opportunities for families to talk about, understand, and make decisions about specifics that are happening right now in the family. We work with what the family brings, which is often concerns about their loved one. Often families focus on some aspect of their loved one behavior, potential triggers, problematic events that have happened, and areas of highest risk that may lead their loved one back into the problematic addictive cycle. These conversations are important for the day to day issues that arise, and creating an environment for the family to have them is one level of engagement.

This level of engagement alone can feel like the whack a mole game, or chasing one’s tail. The family’s patience can wear thin. They may be reminded of past attempts to help their loved one’s addiction and can’t see how this time will be different.

In the first two phases the TFRS, a second level of engagement supports the first – the equivalent of two days of family retreats/intensives designed to best support them in a transformation in how they see and respond to the problematic behavior or addiction in the family. The family moves from recognizing underlying factors that have contributed to the problem, to potential transformation and healing.

The Signature Process of The Family Recovery Solution™ (TFRS):

TFRS can be used at any stage of addiction/recovery.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 10.28.28 PM

The first phase of TFRS’s 3 phase process can be initiated before the family is ready for an intervention, with an intervention, after an intervention, at any stage of the addicted individual’s treatment, or after a couple years of abstinence and the interpersonal patterns in the family have not changed. Of course, the earlier the family is engaged in a process of change, the more positive influence they will have on potential healing in the family, as well as decreasing the chances for relapse down the road.

As mentioned the potential with TFRS is transformation, which is totally linked to the commitment from family members. It’s ideal that everyone in the family would be on board with the change. The reality is that a small group with a sustained commitment can make powerful change over time. The changes in the “rules of engagement” and the structure has an impact on the entire family.
Here’s an example of the shift in thinking that can occur for family members

Often families see their loved one as the source of their problems. For too many reasons, this happens quite often and creates a polarization between the addicted individual (AI) and their family. The polarization is reflected in their thinking.
Here are some examples of thoughts for family members that can occur in the early stages:

“We don’t have much to do with this; I’ve had enough blame by so called ‘experts’”
“The assessment from the doctor/treatment center/psychologist is bunk. There may be some truth there, but I don’t believe it”
“When they change, I’ll feel better”
“If they would just stop ________, our family would be better off”

These thoughts can easily invade one’s mind, but it’s important to know these thoughts are some of the biggest obstacles to potential transformation.

When some or all family members get to a deeper understanding of the problem and where it comes from, their thinking about their loved one, about the problem, and about the addiction, changes radically. Here’s an example of a transformative thought process family members have, specifically when the underlying driver is trauma that has been passed down from generation to generation, or has occurred in this generation. The words are an example of a recovery message in this example, applicable to whole family healing.

Through your suffering, you’ve identified something that we’ve always known about, which is how hurt we are and how disconnected from ourselves we are. In our frustration with you, we recognize our frustration with ourselves. This did not begin with you, or with us either. It goes back a long ways in our family, and maybe this is the generation where we can stop the transmission of suffering. So you’re welcome to be a part of this change. We are going to engage in a healing process so we don’t pass it on, and you’re so welcome to join us. You can do that right now. And if you’re not ready, we’re going to love you anyways. And we invite you to be with us whenever you are ready.

Sure, this is an example. But think if people in your family personalized this message to your person of concern, or addicted individual. How might this start a world win of change?

Curious if your family could benefit from The Family Recovery Solution? We can get started today when you fill out the form, Let’s Get Started.


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11 Dec

Holiday Stress?


Holidays are meant for a sharing of joy. However, the holiday season can be a time of increased chaos in family relationships. Unfortunately, if past holidays are associated with challenge and pain, there can be an automatic reaction to coping. When we are not conscious of of a defensive / habitual pattern – a pattern meant to protect us. A way of relating that succeeds in getting us through a difficult time perhaps – but, often it comes at a price. I think you know what I mean.

If there is addiction in the family and a concern that someone will possibly indulge too much in an addictive substance or process, becoming difficult, belligerent – this concern may be legitimate, but know the concern may taint your attitude, expectations, ability to connect and overall holiday experience.

The family may seem to revolve around this person; this person is in the spotlight. The spotlight is about behavior, in this case bad behavior that is triggering an activated state in everyone around the spotlight person. This situation (the holiday festivities) results in increased stress and everyone doing their best to cope. “Doing their best to cope” can mean people resorting to their own past coping strategies.

With alcohol being an example of the substance the spotlight person uses to excess, know that roles form around the spotlight person. Some roles that may be created are:

The role of someone also drinking alcohol, however when they drink they do not have the same problematic outcomes as the spotlight person.
The role of someone wanting to stay connected through communication, but they don’t want to talk about the alcohol or the problems that come from it – they may want connection but avoid the difficult conversations.
The role that is the opposite of avoidance. They may want to talk about the alcohol and the problem that comes from it, and they may communicate in a shaming, blaming or criticizing way. The volumes of voice escalate, and heart rates go up. Arguments result.
The role of someone who really wants to help – help the person in the spotlight role, or help fix the problem. However their helping may not be completely honest; they may be denying the problem and covering for the spotlight person. “Helping” can get problematic here.
Other roles may be someone who is distanced or has distanced themselves from the family. People in these roles may have been in other roles at one time but either were fed up and pulled back or may feel pushed out of the family.

Do some of these seem familiar?

Know that all of the people in these roles are really trying to do their best – do their best to deal with the situation at hand. Whether they are aware of it or this “doing their best” also attempts to regulate their own nervous system. All of the above roles are stressed induced roles. I’m guessing, stress that has been in the family for a while, and the role has become the learned response – the easiest way to cope for that person. People in these roles can shift from role to role and/or become identified and attached to one role. The attachment to the role can become personal. Know that much of this is unconscious. There is more at play here then the surface story, and often we get attached to the surface story. Our attachment can result in self-justified anger and/or underlying hurt.

The holidays which are meant as a time of joy and sharing, can easily turn to opening old wounds, attempting to cover the pain in whatever way we are use to, which too often means covering the pain with headaches, excessive drinking, arguing, avoiding, over-eating, or difficulty sleeping.

It helps to be proactive here. Go into the holidays with a plan. Of course, everyone’s plan needs to be personalized and make sense to them.

Here are some potential elements of a plan for you to think about and see if they make sense for your situation. I say, “potential” because these are only suggestions and you need to decide what makes sense and is a best fit for you. Notice that some of these may be contradictory. Try what isn’t automatic.

Keep expectations for the holiday season realistic and manageable.
Talk with others in your family about coming up with a unified plan.
Rely on others, lean into your support systems.
Before an event really think about what makes the most sense for you.
Try something different then whatever habitual role is automatic. Go easy on you.
Realize you are in a stressful situation, and at every moment you are doing your best.
Slow down. Pace yourself. Ask for help.
Organize your time. Keep busy. Stay productive.
Be someone others would like to interact with.
Stay balanced. There are two sides to every interaction.
Allow yourself to sit with your emotions, before acting them out.

Granted, it isn’t realistic to think that you will make one change and the structure of the whole family system (the roles that form around the spotlight person) will magically change. It is however realistic to start making little changes that you can do with the knowledge that any lasting change takes place over time. Changes you start today can lead to big changes down the road. Your odds of changing another by yourself are limited. However, everyone of us has the power to change ourselves, and this change impacts others. It’s contagious.

This article was written to stimulate thinking about what you can do individually. The Family Recovery Solution provides a pathway for everyone in the family to make changes that lead towards healing.