It’s often difficult for family members to see the real extent and nature of the damage addiction has caused to themselves and the family.

iStock_000005827812SmallA Beginner’s Guide to Family Recovery

Getting key family members involved, educated, and supportive of clients’ recovery is a major predictor of success for substance abuse treatment, but it’s not at all easy. Some family members assume that their help is done when they’ve delivered their family member to the treatment program. They may be looking forward to a “rest” from the craziness before their loved one is returned to them, clean and sober and ready to make up for everything that went wrong while s/he was drinking or using.

They’ll usually admit that it’s been hard. They may even have heard that addiction is a “family disease,” and that a newly-recovering loved one can benefit from their support once they leave treatment. But as with the addict or alcoholic themselves, it’s often difficult for family members to see the real extent and nature of the damage addiction has caused to themselves and the family.

If your program is ready to reach out and involve family members, you may find “Whose Life is it Anyway” a helpful and flexible curriculum. It can be presented as a group program, a family counseling session guide, or even a lecture/discussion format for classroom-style settings. And it’s free.

Nine program units can be delivered as separate sessions, or combined into five sessions. (Session One stands alone, the others can be telescoped into two units per session.)

  • Families can join the program at any point in the cycle.
  • Additional “Extra credit” unit for parents of adolescents.
  • Family therapy training is not required to deliver “Whose Life Is It” effectively—it is based on simple disease-model treatment concepts familiar to the treatment professional.
Family Members Learn
  • You can’t control someone else’s behavior
  • You can control your responses to it, and in this way, become a positive influence in recovery

“Whose Life is it, Anyway” uses handouts–articles and tools– available FREE on this website. Here’s a handy list for downloading:

You are welcome to download this FREE version of the “Whose Life” curriculum and its associated resources, and use it for your program or personal use. You may also contact us to discuss a customized version for your program or organization:


NEVER tired of getting your comments, Lisa! We are here because our own journey is based on learning from, and sharing with, everyone else on the healing path.
Knowing our resources are useful to professionals like you is more than encouraging. Hearing from you and others helps us see connections, find new sources of learning (Sober Identity blog, yay!) and “sharpen the tools” we share.

Comment by Cecile — May 21, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

Are you tired of me commenting yet?
You guys are such a GREAT resource.

Onto the post:
The title says it all. There is more to say than can possibly be said in this comment box. This is the title of a book (at least in my mind). I appreciate your approach to recovery because THIS IS WHAT RECOVERY IS ABOUT… healing … all of us healing. We don’t live in a bubble. We do have an effect on each other and mostly on our immediate family. The idea that we (addict or not) journey up or down alone is false.

On that note, I feel like we journey with RecoverySI. We are the beneficiary of your work and are better coaches for knowing you and learning from you.
Thank you for your resource-filled site.

Comment by Lisa Neumann — May 21, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

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