Families are affected in many ways when a person suffers from a substance use disorder. La Hacienda’s Family Program was created to help family members understand addiction and learn how to support their loved one’s recovery.
Utilizing groups and interactive discussions, the Family Program staff provide education regarding alcoholism/addiction, recovery, codependency, family dynamics, assertive communication skills, and relapse prevention.
Despite efforts to help, family members can inadvertently enable the addiction which will lead to feelings of guilt. This leads into a seemingly endless cycle between enabling and guilt.
We want family members to learn how to empower, learn how to take care of themselves, and learn how to influence their loved one.
The Family Program equips family members with the skills necessary to help the treated person.
It is important that family members be educated about the progression of substance abuse and how they can best support their loved one.
Most people are surprised when addiction hits their family. At that point, they are not sure what to do, and it can be extremely confusing.
The Family Program is a significant commitment but worth the effort. The Family Program staff is dedicated to accompanying them through the process.
Relatives are uncertain what they will face, based on their experience with the patient before treatment. A family member once said he knew he needed to come, but it was not in his list of the top five things he wanted to do.
Each patient is offered the opportunity to be involved in the Family Program at La Hacienda. They initiate the process by signing a consent form to allow specified family members to participate.
Family Program staff phone family members on the patient’s consent form to invite them to the program.
In most cases patients participate in Family Program during their third week of treatment. The program begins at noon on Monday and concludes at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Family Program is primarily for adults and not appropriate for children under the age of 15 and La Hacienda does not provide childcare services.
There is no tuition fee for participation in the Family Program. Participants are responsible for their own transportation, lodging, and meal costs.
Persons needing assistance with lodging reservations may get a list of accommodations in nearby communities from the Family Program office.
If a patient and their families cannot participate in the Family Program during the patient’s treatment stay, the patient and family members have up to one year to return to campus and complete the Family Program on an outpatient basis at no additional cost.
A virtual version of the Family Program is also offered. Staff can provide details on the virtual program when they contact the family after patient initiates participation.
Presentations by staff about codependence, communication,
boundaries, and expectations.
A talk about the medical aspects of addiction by one of our
A presentation by Alumni Staff about the 12-Step
Group discussions about feelings and recovery, boundaries,
codependency, returning home, recovery for the family, patient, and
family needs, 12 Steps and Traditions, and how to create a family
Process groups that enable honest communication and lead to open
sharing of thoughts and feelings.
A popular part of the Family Program is a presentation on addiction and the human brain by members of our on-campus team of addiction medicine physicians. This comes from their own experience and reports on scientific research.
Their medically based information about substance use disorders helps families better understand their loved one’s illness. Family members often rank it as one of the highlights of the program.
A member of the medical team presents a talk on addiction and the brain, with vital information about how we understand addiction to be a disease. Understanding what they are up against is an essential point in rebuilding trust.
The Family Program starts with informational sessions led by staff.
Family members also learn about Al-Anon and other organizations which support the loved ones of people addicted or in recovery.
Family members may wonder why they should go to 12-Step meetings such as Al-Anon when their loved one is the one with the addiction. In short, Al-Anon is designed to help family members understand that they did not cause and cannot control the addiction while also helping them focus on their own well-being.
Wednesday sessions involve patients and family members exchanging statements about how they feel, then discussing what they’ve heard each other say.
It’s an exercise in healing with most participants on board. There’s crying and laughing, and most participants feel better afterward.
On the last day of Family Program, patients and families review recovery plans they co-produce. A primary goal is to identify how to communicate about any concerns that arise in the future in a way that is direct, but still supportive.
Family members fear asking questions in the wrong way and causing a relapse. But if they are expressed from a place of concern and love, they’re going to be OK.
Similarly, we tell patients that their families are going to be anxious, nervous, and afraid. We try to help the patients understand that families are going to make mistakes, but that is OK.
At the conclusion of Family Program, families frequently express gratitude for the program and for each other. In addition, instead of feeling like adversaries with the addicted person, they become partners in the recovery process.
A recent participant compared his experience to physical training. “It’s like working out, you don’t want to do it, but when you’re done, you’re glad you did it.”
Another family member summed her experience this way, “I still have some fear but because of the Family Program, I also have hope. I feel like now we can move forward.”