Dear Jeff and Debra,
Our 29-year- old daughter is just completing inpatient treatment for alcoholism. We think she’s done well in treatment, but she doesn’t seem interested in her aftercare plan. What can we do to encourage her? –Anxious Parents
What’s your aftercare plan? The best help you can give your daughter at this phase of her recovery is to model the behavior you hope to see from her.
Is she being encouraged to attend Twelve Step meetings like AA? We assume these meetings will be a key component of her continuing care plan. In that case, it’s critical for both of you to begin attending Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is the Twelve Step program for friends and family members of alcoholics. (Tip: just Google “Alanon” and your home town)
In your daughter’s case, it won’t be enough to attend a few AA meetings, and then get back to her normal schedule. Like any major diet or exercise plan, recovery from a substance use disorder requires commitment to be successful. You can lead the way be showing her your commitment to your recovery program in Al-Anon. Don’t just go to a few meetings; pick a meeting or two you’re always going to attend, and then stick with the schedule to the best of your ability.
Participate actively in the meetings by getting a sponsor and working the Twelve Steps. All AA and Al-Anon meetings are self-sustaining. They accept no outside contributions, so be a part of the group and help with one of the little tasks that make meetings possible (like setting up the chairs). This seemingly innocuous task will do more to cement you into the group than almost anything else. It’s called service work, and it requires humility and commitment. Not coincidentally, these are exactly the qualities you will hope to see from your daughter.
Lead by example. We can guarantee she will be amazed if you announce that you’ve selected a home group, that you’ve asked someone to be your sponsor, and that you’re working the Steps.
If you want to super-charge your recovery (and hers), read the book, “It Takes a Family,” and follow the weekly meeting format included in the book. You can either work with a trained Structured Family Recovery® counselor or follow the step-by- step guide on your own. The book provides structure and accountability, so the whole family starts building a positive program. It also provides basic education on the disease and the recovery process.
It’s natural for parents to be worried about their child’s recovery process, but put the focus on yourselves. When you provide a positive example and demonstrate real commitment to the process, you make it far more likely that she will follow suit. We do recover!