An Addict’s story that spans 3 countries and 3 generations took another constructive turn, last week at Seasons Bali.
The mother and sister of one of our current clients referred to here as Client X attended Family Week from 5th until 10th of February. The family originally met with our Senior Therapist, Tim Morris, after he was called by Steve Stokes the family’s therapist in Sydney, Australia approximately 3 months ago.
This was the start of an international intervention spanning Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. A few days after the initial contact with Client X’s relatives, Tim flew to the Philippines, currently one of the most dangerous places to be a using addict, to conduct an intervention. Client X was then successfully escorted to treatment at Seasons where he is nearing the end of the Primary Program and is set to continue into the Transitional Housing here in Bali.
A Family Disease
Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease of the brain characterised by distorted thinking, obsession and compulsion that results in insanity, incarceration and ultimately death. As with any life threatening illness, this has consequences for relatives of the addict because nothing happens in a vacuum. The behaviour of the addict and their primary relationship with their drug of choice, creates a strangulating hold around the family dynamic impacting the stability of the home, the family’s unity and frequently the mental, physical and financial health of everyone concerned.
Family Week aims to help relatives gain a better understanding of the disease of addiction and therefore learn how to effectively support the addict’s recovery while also looking after themselves. The mother and sister of Client X were understandably nervous and did not really know what to expect from the process or from the other members of the current therapeutic community. Joining a bunch of unknown addicts and alcoholics in treatment is a nerve-racking prospect especially when the behaviour, you know so well from your own experience with an addicted loved one, is so very off the scale.
“As a family, coming into all this I thought we would be intrusive. The first morning I really thought: How are they all (the other clients) going to take this. But there was never really a problem from the first minute. It opened up so many wounds and things for other people, giving them a chance to reflect on their own relationships. I didn’t realise that would happen. It’s very strong and I think I’m right in saying that every member of the group thought it was good thing that there was families here.”
She went on to explain how quickly the current community had accepted them into the fold and the unexpected kindnesses she had received from members of the group.
“One of the guys who left this morning (upon successful completion of the program) came and gave me a little fan that plugs into your I Phone. He said he had seen how hot I was getting in the meetings. That touched me so much, I could have cried. He said it was only $5 and I said, that is not the point.”
The relatives join the group for the full set schedule of therapeutic activities during the week as well as having their own Case Manager to guide them through their own recovery work. Treating the whole family for a period of time is a hugely beneficial process which seeks to break down old patterns of behaviour within the unit and introduce new healthy ones.
“Family week is not just a benefit for the families that are in treatment with the clients, it’s a benefit for every client that is in the rehab, even if their family is not here because they see their relationships reflected in what is happening within the group.”
“I’m not saying that because I just think it, the members of the group have all said that to me individually. One of the clients said that he has heard his Mum say a million times how much he has hurt her and that she loves him and she wishes he’d change but it wasn’t till she heard my Mum say it that he actually heard it.”
Hope and the Seasons Staff
The Case Managers at Seasons Bali are all in recovery themselves providing a wealth of personal experience and an important example to both clients and their family members of what is possible in recovery. Our current team includes 3 members who successfully completed the rehabilitation program here in Bali and have over a year of successful recovery each, which is an impressive and tangible embodiment of the program at work.
“I think all the staff are amazing, they have all been lovely and have checked in with how we are feeling throughout the week. You look at them (the staff) and they all look fresh and wonderful and they (clients) see it and it gives them hope.”
“The model used here is amazing. The fact that everyone is in recovery means that people are really being led by example. I can’t think of a better model for rehab to follow, I completely get why you do it.”
“The fact all of the staff give of themselves makes this very special. Jayson, who was leading group this morning just did an amazing share. In so many therapy/social work roles people are taught never to give anything of themselves but the fact the staff here give so freely of their own experience is just amazing and very powerful.”
“I didn’t know anything about Jayson until he shared and I really thought: Oh my God, isn’t it amazing that you are here doing this, and they (the clients) are listening and they can see the hard time that he has been through and the different person who is sitting there now.”
During the time the mother and sister joined Client X, two members of the current group graduated from their treatment program.
“The two boys leaving today having completed their time are also a great example and it gives my son something to aim for. It’s like magic, I know it’s not and that they have worked hard but that is kind of what it feels like.”
Family Week features educational sessions, organised exercises based around communication and setting boundaries and guided discussions that explore addiction, the family system and relationships. Additionally, there are family counselling sessions with Tim Morris who is an expert at establishing a safe environment for each person to explore their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The varied schedule also includes fitness and recreational activities as well as personal time for reflection. On top of this, every evening, families attend a 12 step meeting with their loved ones. One of the activities that is frequently employed is the process of family constellations which seeks to explore the family dynamic and provide resolution to past conflicts.
Sister: “I hate family constellations but being involved in one that was reflective of our family was a hugely powerful process.”
Mother: “It was really interesting because Client X moved his father away down the end (during the family constellation) and when the Senior Support Worker was sharing in group this morning what he was saying was really relevant to what happened in our family constellation and I thought: Client X, I really hope that you are listening – this is really like your situation, you must make amends because they are victims too. I hope he gets it. It’s all about learning from someone else.”
Mother: “I got a lot out of going to the meetings. I have been to a lot of Al Anon meetings but until now I had only been to three AA meetings in my life. So it was full on having it every night but it has given me so much more understanding of where this all comes from.”
Sister: “Going to AA I had so much empathy for every person in that room with no judgement which made me realise that I must have that same empathy without judgement for my brother. He is just the same as everyone else in that room. I know they have probably done as many bad things, if not worse but I didn’t judge them. I thought it doesn’t really matter what you have done, you are here now. I must give that gift to my brother and I can now.”
It’s usually the small things that families notice first.
“I think I am usually the first one up and this morning I couldn’t believe it. I have never experienced my son getting up before me. He was always tired or grumpy or sleeping or using or in-between and this morning he was up before me and happy.” Mother
Recovery for All
Recovery is a process for everybody and Family Week helps to give people a real head start with everyone moving forward together with the same information. This is a deeply empowering process, not just for the relations within the family but also on a personal level.
“I said to one of the support staff: Why do only addicts get to go to rehab? I love going to health retreats, for example, and I always leave feeling really clean and amazing but I don’t change. I’ve really changed in this week, nothing to do with my brother. The independent personal gain I have had from this experience is huge.” Sister
In the experience of Seasons staff, it’s not just the Client X, his mother and sister that reap the rewards of these changes but also the children on both branches of the family tree. Tim Morris said: “So many people don’t think that interventions work and this is a pretty dramatic example of how they do.”
If you or a family member have a problem with drugs or alcohol give one of our experts at Seasons Bali a call for a free, no obligation consultation about how we can help.