Here are 5 articles showing conversations that can be had on these subjects:
The Nature of Addiction
Desire for Recovery
Will & Work for Recovery
Relationships for Recovery
Grace for Recovery
Therapy in Action: Nature of Addiction
Goal: Help Jon and Mary Understand that the nature of addiction is more of an illness than a chosen habit.
Purpose: Teach that addiction is an advanced stage of illness which no one willingly chooses, and which no one can easily leave.
Discussion: Ask Jon and Mary if they have spoken with each other about the nature of addiction. Ask them if they see addiction differently than each other. Help them see that they can come to an understanding of what addiction is, which will help them to have less contention in their lives, and help them become a team rather than oppose each other in the journey toward recovery. Jon is the addicted candidate, and Mary is learning how to best support him.
Jon, 1. How does it feel when Mary tells you to “just stop already”? 2. Mary, how does it feel when you continue to tell Jon he needs to “just stop already or we will divorce”? You have not seen much improvement from this, and resentment is building in your marriage to the point that a divorce does seem eminent. Jon and Mary, do you want your marriage to last? Perhaps at this point you don’t know. Let’s talk about the nature of addiction. Addiction involves powerlessness, meaning Jon can resolve to quit, and know that his biology will kick in hours later compelling him to abuse substance in conditions other than confinement or straight jacket. Powerlessness comes on gradually, but you have now reached the stage of true shackled addiction, where your will alone becomes unable to break the chains of addiction. Mary, do you think Jon has been sincere? How does it make you feel when he relapses after sincere commitment to be sober? How has it taxed your financial life, and your friendship? What do you think we could do to help Jon other than petitioning him to be sober? Jon, what ideas do you have about how to end the powerlessness cycle of your addiction, seeing as you’ve tried to quit many times without success? Are the both of you willing to look outward to find more support in treating this addiction? Have you heard of
Exploration: Invite Jon and Mary to analyze their lives to look for the missing pieces: What could Jon be using his addiction to cope with? Ask yourselves why he is seeking fantasy and alter-ego and euphoria when those things should be available in a regular life. What is Jon feeling that is leading him to substance abuse? Is there loss in his life which he has not grieved over? Has he developed coping strategies for his day to day problems which have grown to consume his life? Will you make a list of how Jon reacts to various stressful parts of day to day living, and alternate coping skills he could be using? Jon, will you list your 100 favorite lies involved in why you justify using substance in your day to day life?
Goal: Help Jon and Mary Understand that though biology has a large part to do with addiction, desire for recovery will be inherent in his recovery.
Purpose: Teach Jon and Mary that by looking to the roots of their marriage they can find the hope for exercising the willpower to overcome bad addictive habits.
Discussion: Ask Jon what his goals in life are. Ask Mary what her goals in life are. Ask them how they felt on their wedding day and when their first child was born. Ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up as they were children. Ask Jon and Mary what things are not as they foresaw they would be. Ask Jon what sacrifices he can reasonably make to bring him closer to his desired life. Ask Mary how she can positively support Jon in the changes which he has committed to make. Ask Jon and Mary how they will respond if relapse occurs. Teach them that relapse should not be taken lightly, that anger and frustration and withholding of privileges are part of what comes from this, but show them at the same time that they don’t have to express hopelessness and faithlessness in Jon if he stumbles. Teach them that relapse does not mean starting over at ground zero, but that it means taking a step back in aspects of trust. The skills Jon has learned will help him to recover more quickly from relapse than he was able to do in the past. Teach them that Jon will have more power to exercise willpower even when he falls as he continues to learn positive coping strategies for the stresses and grief of his life.
Exploration: Invite Jon to make actual lists of how he will cope with the stresses of day to day life, and invite Mary to make actual lists of how she will react when Jon does a positive or negative thing, these lists will help them to not act on the emotion of the moment. Invite Jon to keep by him talismans of motivation which remind him of his life goals. Invite them to post their life goals and their family goals in a prominent location in their home, vehicles, and personal planners. Invite Jon to isolate one behavior that he wants to change, and practice responding correctly to the environment of that problem over and over. This will increase his faith that he has the power to change.
Goal: Help Jon and Mary Understand that recovery will not be easy, but that so long as they apply correct principles, it will be not only possible but a certain outcome.
Purpose: Teach Jon that he will need to cancel many of the extracurricular events in his life to focus on recovery. Like the obese person that gives up crocheting to spend an extra few hours at the gym each day, so will Jon need to find areas in his life which are not supporting his goals, eliminate them, and identify areas which need more strengthening.
Discussion: Ask Jon to make a list of all the useless things he does. Ask Jon to make a list of his weaknesses, and then to make another list about ways he could improve on those weaknesses. Jon, these weaknesses could be social, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, recreational, vocational, sexual, etc. You see, to have a healthy life we want you to find balance in all areas of your life. If you never have energy, what are some things you could do other than cocaine? If you’re never happy, what are some things, perhaps social and relationally, which you could do to give yourself more opportunities for happiness other than alcohol? If you’re not feeling sexually satisfied in your marriage, what are some things other than pornography affairs and masturbation which you could do in your marriage which could help you both to find more satisfaction in this regard? Beware however Jon that many who use pornography and masturbation and other wise unhealthy objectification and overly emphasize sexuality in life are doing this out of a desire for health in some other aspect than sexuality. Sexual deviance could be a way of seeking happiness to deal with grief, or a myriad of other things.
Exploration: Invite Jon to spend 3 hours a day at the gym getting in good shape (this can help regulate his emotions and increase his willpower to make good choices). Invite Jon to spend time talking to his wife each evening rather than going for sex off the bat (this can increase the likelihood of them having sex at all, and increase the pleasure therein, and increase the connectedness in their relationship, which will heal their sexual life as well, because connection is a proven higher motivation in life than sex or power.). Invite Mary to take care of her health by regular exercise, reading wholesome books, worshiping at a church, and other activities which will sustain her during the crucible of Jon’s addiction recovery.
Therapy in Action: Relationships for Recovery
Goal: Help Jon and Mary Understand that connection is the highest motivator in life, and that their relationship as a married couple is the primary relationship for supporting recovery. Also show them that healthy environments and friends are needed for recovery.
Purpose: Teach Jon that his friends influence his choices. Teach Mary that she also needs a support group to help her through the addiction of her husband. Teach Jon and Mary that this is a critical time to build their marital relationship by going on frequent and regular outings/dates together involving work and recreation.
Discussion: Ask Jon and Mary how they feel their relationship is overall, and to write down memories of their relationship at its highest point. Jon, what are the places you go where you are most likely to relapse? What are the places where you are most likely to be sober? Ask Jon what people make him want to be sober, and which people make him want to relapse. Ask Jon what he can do to cultivate the healthy relationships, and polity put on the shelf and otherwise eradicate the non-working relationships? Ask Mary how she can make life pleasant for Jon, and ask Jon what he can do to make life pleasant for Mary. Ask Jon how his children are being affected by his addiction, and what he wants his children to be when they grow up, and weather his choices are supporting or working against that desire.
Exploration: Invite Jon to enroll in AA/NA and Mary to enroll in Al-Anon so they can be surrounded by others who have similar struggles whom can offer advice, and so that Jon and Mary can have the redemptive experience of teaching others who are not as far along as they are in the process of recovery. Invite Jon to get a sponsor whom he can call when he is tempted to abuse substance. Invite Mary to get a sponsor whom she can call when she feels tired and depressed in the recovery of her husband. Invite Jon to keep pictures of his family and other role models nearby when he is traveling on business, as well as making friends when he is out on business rather than being reclusive.
Goal: Help Jon and Mary Understand that they cannot recover by mere willpower and skill, but that the aid of a higher power is needed for recovery.
Purpose: If you don’t want to get specific and its often helpful to not be too specific when working as a therapist rather than a pastor, show them that there remains a need for spirituality in their recovery, that recovery consists in 1. Spiritual involvement with their higher power and 2. The undivided resolve of themselves to use their willpower for recovery, including seeking all skills possible to work out their recovery. Teach them that their higher power can help them in their journey for recovery, and show them case examples of others like Bill W. whom have turned to a higher power for help in recovery. Teach them the doctrine of powerlessness and dependency, and the need for supernatural help to recovery from such strong enemies. Show that the field of addiction is perhaps the only scientific behavioral science field where it is long time recognized that the involvement of deity and or a higher power is needed in the recovery process. (If you do for some reason find it okay to get into specifics of Christianity as this being their professed faith, consider teaching the following: Teach Jon that he is loved by God, and teach Mary that she is respected by God for standing by Jon the best way she can. Teach them of the universal need for repentance and a change of heart. Teach them that a change of heart comes as a gift from God to persons whom sincerely repent of their sins. Teach them that Jesus Christ will help them satisfy the justice required in life, and that God their Father will accept the combined efforts of themselves and Jesus Christ as Jon and Mary turn their lives over to Jesus Christ.)
Discussion: Ask Jon who is higher power is, and what he feels his higher power expects of him. Ask him if he has prayed for help to his higher power in the journey of his recovery. Ask him what might be the consequence of praying for help vs the consequence of not praying for help. Ask Mary how she has been involved with her higher power in her journey of supporting and helping Jon.
Exploration: Invite Jon to pray to his higher power for help, and to read his religious text on a dramatically increased regular basis. Invite Mary to make time to worship her higher power during this consuming trial of Jon’s addiction. Invite Jon and Mary to forgive each other for any nagging or neglect or other damages, and invite them to join in their worship together, and to create family traditions of worshipping the higher power, including regular religious meetings with others who feel similarly to them in these regards, and a regular dedication to searching sacred texts of their faith.