Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (MARC) has always operated under the philosophy that addiction is a family disease and that it is just as important to treat the family as it is to treat the patient. When the center began, the primary therapists consistently maintained a high standard with this and engaged family members of patients immediately upon admission and throughout the entirety of the treatment episode. On some occasions, family members even stayed in contact with the therapists after their loved ones had discharged. The clinical team understood that the most important aspect of a person’s recovery, aside from their own recovery program, was the recovery of the family. Unless family members were able to make changes to support their own recoveries, and the recovery of their loved one, it can be difficult for the addicted person to maintain and sustain changes.

The Family Recovery Program

However, it became clear with time that the many demands on the individual therapists made it difficult to provide the families with the support they really needed and deserved. As a result, MARC developed the Family Recovery Program (FRP) and launched it in late 2019. This program was created to complement the existing supports provided by the individual therapists to families and enhance the overall therapeutic experience of the patients and their family members.

Since many of our patients and families had been through other treatment programs is the past, it was important to MARC ownership and the MARC clinical team to create an experience that differs from standard family education programs. However, the team also understood that some families were new to the treatment experience and needed some foundational education. The team also recognized the struggle many family members had with attending their own support groups (Al-anon, Nar-anon, and other family support groups). Due to these three primary areas of concern, the objective was to each month identify and create a small group of families that would offer each other support, be provided with psycho-education about addiction, family dynamics, and family recovery, and receive an intensive therapeutic experience similar to the types of experiences their loved ones received while in treatment. The result of this is now known as MARC’s one-month long FRP experience. This small group of several families of MARC patients would work together throughout the process.

Building Connection

MARC’s FRP begins with the clinical team hand picking a small number of families (4-6 families) to participate in the experience. The clinical team takes into account the needs of those families in an effort to find some similarities among them to help create a cohesive and supportive cohort. The family members chosen to be involved (which can include parents, siblings, spouses, and children of the MARC patient) participate in two two-hour long Zoom calls together with the MARC family therapist. These calls are focused on providing psych-oeducation and cover the topics of addiction, recovery (for the patient and for the family), relapse, trauma, attachment, family systems (roles and rules), enabling and codependency. These are interactive calls during which family members share ways they can relate to the material and start to build connections with each other. These calls are two weeks apart from each other and are meant to provide a framework for families and a foundation that they can use to prepare for the intensive family weekend experience. Family members are encouraged to reflect on the material during their own time and discuss it with their loved one’s individual therapist at MARC for additional support.

After these calls, the family members are then invited to the MARC clinical offices to engage in a long weekend of therapeutic work. The weekend begins on a Thursday evening and ends Sunday afternoon. The weekend includes: speakers sharing their experiences of recovery as family members, experiential groups to dive deeper into the fears and hopes family members have for themselves, and process groups both with and without the patient to provide an opportunity for healing within the family system. The overall goal of the program is to jumpstart the recovery process for the family members, who are often so focused on their loved one who is in treatment that they frequently neglect their own recovery. It is also to identify areas for continued growth once the weekend has concluded.

Equally important to the calls and weekend itself are the follow-up phone calls and family therapy sessions the families have with their loved one in treatment. In these calls and sessions, the goal is for the family and patient, with the help of the family therapist and their loved one’s primary therapist, to build on what they started during the family program. Family members are also very strongly encouraged to continue or start engaging in their own therapeutic work with their own therapists and/or recovery support groups.

Family Recovery at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center

At MARC, it is understood that a patient suffering from addiction has a greater chance of success in recovery and quality of life if their family and loved ones engage in their own process of recovery. MARC’s Family Recovery Program is meant to aid a patient’s family not only in a better understanding of their loved one’s addiction and how to support their recovery, but as much so to support the family in their own recovery process. This process moves family members from denial/delusion to awareness/clarity; from compulsive reacting to conscious choosing; from undifferentiation to differentiation; from blaming to self-responsibility. MARC’s FRP is meant to not only help understand and support the patient suffering from addiction or substance use disorder, but to set the family unit on a journey that ultimately heals the family.

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.