Dear Jeff and Debra,

I’m feeling overwhelmed. I finally got my wife into a residential treatment program for her alcoholism, but I’m being asked to go to Al-Anon and begin something called Structured Family Recovery. In addition, I’m supposed to work a program of some kind myself, and stop enabling. It seems like too much. Haven’t I done enough?
– Harried Husband

Dear Harried,

Treatment is a launching pad, not a cure-all. It may feel like you’ve reached the goal line by getting your wife into treatment, but it’s really just the beginning of the process.

Dear Jeff and Debra,

My daughter is an alcoholic, and she refuses to get help. People tell me there’s nothing I can do until she hits bottom, but she has two small children, and I just can’t bear to watch this go on much longer. Is hitting bottom the only way? – Worried Mother

Dear Worried,

Why not raise the bottom to right now? You don’t have to wait for a drunk driving or a medical problem or an accident with the children. You don’t have to wait for something terrible to happen. You can take action right now, without waiting for her to hit bottom (whatever that means).

A letter from one of our readers…
Dear Jeff and Debra,

My little brother is successful in business, but his life is being ruined by alcohol. He’s already lost his marriage because of his drinking and verbal abuse, but he’s still playing a blame game. Some of his friends and I tried to talk to him about his drinking, but he wouldn’t listen. Some people say I should cut him out of my life until he accepts help. Should I stop talking to him? – Big Sister

Dear Sister,

Just the opposite. When a person doesn’t accept help for an obvious problem, it’s usually more effective to increase communication. Alcoholics usually want to isolate themselves from concerned family members and friends. They do not want to talk about their drinking. When forced to talk about it, they will reframe the issue and blame others for their dilemma.

Dear Jeff and Debra,

Our adult daughter’s life has been shattered by addiction, causing hurt and harm to everyone around her. She’s been through residential treatment twice, and is now living in a sober house, far from home. She asking us to trust her and allow her to come back to live with us, but we’re not sure what to do. How will we know when we can trust her? – Wary Parents

Dear Wary,

Your daughter is making a common mistake in asking you to trust her, and you are making a similar mistake in pondering the question. She is pulling at your heartstrings and asking for a favor. In most circumstances, her request might be reasonable, but in light of her addiction it could have life or death consequences.

Joseph Campbell was an influential thinker, weaving together the stories of many cultures into a seamless narrative. His most famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, demonstrated that the travails of our individual lives and the teachings of the world’s great religions have a lot in common—namely struggle, divine help (usually disguised), and deliverance.

Many such stories begin with an unlikely hero (think of Moses being orphaned in the reeds), who through divine intervention is delivered to a powerful family. A series of unlikely events unfolds over the years, endangering his life more than once. But in the end, he triumphs and leads his people out of bondage and into the promised land.

In our own lives, a crisis can challenge us to take action, face difficulties, work harder, accept setbacks, and try again. No matter the outcome, we are stronger and wiser than when we began.

Here is a PDF of an article I wrote for Human Development magazine. The article begins on page 8.

Addiction and Redemption, by Jeff Jay

The article contains some material from my book, Navigating Grace. It also contains material on Steps 1–5. I hope you’ll pass it on.

–Jeff

“Addiction and Redemption: The Way Out,” by Jeff Jay, as originally published in Human Development Magazine.

The legendary Jerry McDonald of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, interviewed Debra Jay about her book, “It Takes a Family.” Debra was presenting on the topic of Structured Family Recovery™ and the best methods to increase family involvement and improve treatment outcomes.

I’m doing a new series of articles for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation called “Inside the Twelve Steps.” The first article is now available online (free, of course).

Inside Step One: http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/jay/inside-step-one

Hope you enjoy it!