For Partners and Family Members

When someone in a family has an alcohol or other drug problem, everyone is affected. At first, as the problem develops, the family may not understand what is happening. The person with the problem may not see his or her use as a problem, or the person may not be completely open about what is going on.
As the problem becomes clearer, family members may have different ideas about how to deal with it. As individuals and as a unit, family members may struggle to balance their desire to help and protect the person with the need to let the person take responsibility for his or her behaviour. When faced with this situation, family members may:
  • feel guilt, shame
  • feel grief, depression
  • feel loss of control, anxiety               
  • feel anger and resentment      
  • experience denial.
If the problem worsens, family members may also begin to feel hopeless.
There may be:
  • vague, unclear communication
  • escalating conflict, breakdown of relationships
  • a gradual shift in roles and responsibilities
  • efforts to clean up after or otherwise rescue the person with the problem to protect him or her, or to hide the problem from others
  • nagging, threatening
  • counting drinks or making other attempts to check how much the person is using.
Finally, family members may attempt to control the person and his or her use, or they may increase their own use of alcohol or other drugs. Family members may also begin to neglect themselves emotionally, physically or socially.
 
How families can help

Families can play a strong role in recovery. With support from families, people are more likely to stay in treatment and have a successful outcome. Providing that support, however, is only possible if family members take care of their own needs first.

Partners and family members need to look after their own physical and mental health. To do this, you can do the following:
  1. Set limits. Decide what things you will or will not do, and let your relative or partner know. This sends a message to that person to take control of his or her own behaviour. Family members sometimes “rescue” by covering up or not allowing the relative or partner to experience the consequences of his or her use. This can reduce motivation for change or even make it easier for the person to keep using.
  2. Make time for yourself. Keep up your interests outside the family and apart from your relative or partner.
  3. Consider seeking support for yourself, even if your relative or partner is not in treatment. Understanding the problem and the impact it has on you will help you cope. Consider either entering therapy for yourself or joining a self-help or family support program. Local community addiction treatment centres may offer or be aware of these programs.
  4. Take a look at your own substance use. Might your substance use be a cause for concern? Is your drinking or other drug use a “trigger” for the problem use of someone else in your life?
  5. Acknowledge and accept that sometimes you will have angry or negative feelings about the situation. Having conflicting emotions is normal. Knowing this can help you to control these emotions, so you can support your relative or partner through recovery. Try not to feel guilty about your feelings.
  6. Protect yourself physically, emotionally and financially, as necessary. If children are involved, keep them safe.
  7. Keep up your own support network. Avoid isolating yourself. Keep in touch with friends and family outside the home who can offer support.
  8. Don’t allow the problem to take over family life. As much as possible, keep stress low and family life normal. Continue to do family activities such as celebrating birthdays and holidays.
  9. Having a relative or partner with a substance use problem can also strain the relationships of family members who are not using. Different family members may see the problem differently and interact differently with the person with the problem. Family counselling can help to promote family unity, and enable family members to support each other and the person with a substance use problem.
Getting treatment for your relative or partner

It may be hard to get your relative or partner to accept help. Even if the person does realize his or her use is a problem, he or she may not see treatment as useful. The decision to seek help has to come from the person who needs it. There are, however, some ways that family members can encourage a relative or partner. Generally, a concerned and supportive approach is most effective.

Tips for helping your relative or partner

  1. Learn as much as you can about the causes, signs and symptoms of problem substance use. This will help you to understand and support your relative or partner in recovery.
  2. Communicate positively, directly and clearly. State what you want to happen, rather than criticizing your relative or partner for past behaviours. Avoiding personal criticism can help your relative or partner feel accepted while he or she is making difficult changes.
  3. Encourage your relative or partner to follow the treatment plan. Encourage the person to attend treatment sessions regularly and to use the support from his or her counsellor or group. Support the person’s efforts to avoid things that may trigger substance use.
  4. Ask your partner or relative how you can be supportive and create a safer environment (e.g., would the person prefer it if alcohol were removed from the home?).
  5. As your relative or partner recovers, encourage him or her to begin to take back some of the responsibilities and connections that might have been disrupted. Getting back the healthier parts of his or her life, such as family, friends, work and hobbies, can help to maintain changes and to rebuild more balanced relationships with family members.
  6. Recognize that recovery may not be completely smooth. Relapse is often a part of recovery. Have realistic expectations and encourage realistic goals. Prepare a plan for your response to relapse, if it should occur. A relapse can escalate to a return to problem use. If this occurs, decide on your actions and limits, and communicate these clearly to your relative or partner.
  7. Give hope. Remind the person that no matter how hard the struggle, recovery is possible.
Relationship with a partner

A substance use problem can profoundly affect an intimate relationship. Feelings of resentment, anger and loss of trust can lead to distance and hostility in the relationship. The non-using partner may feel betrayed due to past actions. He or she might also have taken on more responsibilities than seem fair. Over time, a partner may begin to feel more and more in a parental role, eroding the couple’s bond. If the partner with the substance use problem does reduce or stop use, it will still take time, patience and a great deal of effort to rebuild what might have been lost. The partner might have been using substances to deal with stress and need to learn new skills to deal with life pressures.

If your partner is willing, meet with his or her counsellor. A meeting can help you to better understand treatment and to learn ways to be supportive and encourage progress.
Support groups for family members can also help. Later on, as your partner enters the action or maintenance stage, consider couple therapy with a marital or couple therapist who understands addiction. Such therapy can help improve communication and strengthen the relationship.

 


Recent Posts

  • EKASS is Hiring!
  • EKASS is Hiring!

    Posted on: 02-Sep-2020

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 02-Sep-2020 EKASS is Hiring!

    EAST KOOTENAY ADDICTIONS SERVICES SOCIETY

    Youth Substance Use Counsellor - Invermere, BC

    Closing Date: September 15, 2020 

    East Kootenay Addiction Services Society is hiring a permanent part-time 0.8 FTE Youth Substance Use Counsellor for our Invermere location.

    Job Summary:

    Working from a Harm Reduction perspective and a Bio-psycho-social-spiritual model, the Youth Substance Use Counsellor provides screening, assessment, treatment planning and individual, group and family counselling to youth and their families affected by their own or someone else’s substance misuse. In addition, the Counsellor participates in the planning, development and delivery of treatment, education and prevention programs to youth, families, schools and other community groups in the Invermere area; and provides outreach services to youth in non-traditional settings.

    Qualifications:

    • Minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate discipline suitable for substance use work such as Social Work, Counselling Psychology, and minimum of three-years relevant substance use experience.
    • Experience and training working with individuals, groups and families
    • Experience and training working with youth with concurrent disorder issues
    • Working knowledge of the mental health and substance use system of care, including a comprehensive understanding of current approaches to substance abuse and mental health treatment.


    Skills and Abilities:

    • Be flexible and use analytical and critical thinking to respond to changing work conditions
    • Provide therapeutic counselling services to individuals, groups and families
    • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, and maintain accurate and timely reports
    • Establish and maintain relationships based on trust and respect, and maintain healthy interpersonal boundaries with work colleagues, community partners and clients
    • Develop and implement public education and prevention activities for various community groups with a Harm Reduction focus
    • Work with an inter-disciplinary team approach
    • Demonstrate adherence to professional ethical values
    • Maintain valid driver’s license.  Must have own vehicle
    • Hold a Valid first aid/CPR certification
    • Provide a current Criminal Record Clearance

    Salary: Commensurate with Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association and HEABC, Disciplines Allied to Social Work I, Grid Level 8

    Submit cover letter and resume to:

    Dean Nicholson, Executive Director

    East Kootenay Addiction Services Society

    202, 1617 Baker Street

    Cranbrook, BC, V1C 1B4

    Fax:  250-489-1020

    Email:  [email protected]

    Only those selected for interview will be contacted.

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  • International Overdose Awareness Day 2020

    Posted on: 18-Aug-2020

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 18-Aug-2020 International Overdose Awareness Day 2020

    International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year. The day aims raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. It also acknowledge the grief felt by families and friend remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. 

    To help reduce the risk of overdose:

    • Buddy up when you are using, stay 2 meters (6 ft) from your buddy to remain physically distanced, but remember using with a buddy is safer than using alone!
    • Remember, smoking substances can still lead to overdose, take measures to prevent overdose.      
    • Avoid using different drugs at the same time or using drugs and alcohol together. 
    • Don’t use alone. Leave door unlocked. Tell someone to check on you.
    • If you feel you must use while alone, consider using the Lifeguard app www.lifeguardDH.com which can connect you with emergency medical dispatchers in the event of an overdose. Download at the App Store or Google Play.  
    • Test by using a small amount, then go slow.
    • Carry a Naloxone kit and know how to use it. Naloxone is available at:
      • ANKORS, EKASS, IH Public Health & Mental Health Substance Use Locations
      • Pharmacies located throughout Cranbrook
      • Recognize the signs of an OD: slow or no breathing, gurgling or gasping, lips/fingertips turning blue, difficult to rouse (awaken), non-responsive.
      • Call 9-1-1 immediately It is still safe (and important) to use emergency services during the COVID -19 pandemic
      • Open airway and give rescue breaths using face mask
      • Give naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
    • Check your drugs. Fentanyl test strips are available at:

    ANKORS #209 – 16th Ave North Cranbrook  250-426-3383

                            EKASS – 202 1617 Baker Street  250-489-4344

    www.drugchecking.ca

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  • Cranbrook Drug Alert
  • Cranbrook Drug Alert

    Posted on: 16-Jun-2020

    Posted by EKASS | on 16-Jun-2020 Cranbrook Drug Alert

    CRANBROOK DRUG ALERT 

    Interior Heath has issued a Drug Alert for Cranbrook due to drug checking results through ANKORS that revealed highly toxic levels of fentanyl and benzodiazepines in a DARK PURPLE pebbly substance. People who use drugs are reporting passing out for extended periods of time after consuming this substance.  
    If you wish to share this alert with others – please note that this alert is localized to the community of CRANBROOK only. If you choose to display this poster, please remove by June 23rd, 2020 as per best practices.
    Thank you for your help in getting this important information out.  
    For your safety:
    ⭐️Buddy up when you are using, stay 2 meters (6 ft) from your buddy to remain physically distanced, but remember using with a buddy is safer than using alone!
    ⭐️Get your drugs checked - available at ANKORS and East Kootenay Addictions Services Society. More info: www.drugchecking.ca
    ⭐️Remember, smoking substances can still lead to overdose, take measures to prevent overdose.      
    ⭐️Avoid using different drugs at the same time or using drugs and alcohol together. 
    ⭐️Don’t use alone. Leave door unlocked. Tell someone to check on you.
    ⭐️If you feel you must use while alone, consider using the Lifeguard app which can connect you with emergency medical dispatchers in the event of an overdose. Download at the App Store or Google Play.  
    ⭐️Test by using a small amount, then go slow.
    ⭐️Carry a Naloxone kit and know how to use it.
    Know the signs of overdose and how to respond 
    🌟Recognize the signs of an OD: slow or no breathing, gurgling or gasping, lips/fingertips turning blue, difficult to rouse (awaken), non-responsive.
    🌟 Call 9-1-1 immediately It is still safe (and important) to use emergency services during the COVID -19 pandemic
    🌟Open airway and give rescue breaths using face mask
    🌟Give naloxone (Narcan) if you have it.
    Naloxone is available at:
    💫 ANKORS, EKASS, IH Public Health & Mental Health Substance Use Locations
    💫 Pharmacies located throughout Cranbrook
    Drug checking is available at:
    ✔️ANKORS #209 – 16th Ave North Cranbrook250-426-3383
    ✔️EKASS – 250-489-4344
    For more resources and links related to overdose and substance use, visit: https://www.interiorhealth.ca/AboutUs/Leadership/MHO/Pages/PHEmergency.aspx

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Upcoming Events

  • International Overdose Awareness Day 2020

    Event Date: 31-Aug-2020

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 18-Aug-2020 International Overdose Awareness Day 2020

    International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is a global event held on August 31st each year. The day aims raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of drug-related death. It also acknowledge the grief felt by families and friend remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. 

    To help reduce the risk of overdose:

    • Buddy up when you are using, stay 2 meters (6 ft) from your buddy to remain physically distanced, but remember using with a buddy is safer than using alone!
    • Remember, smoking substances can still lead to overdose, take measures to prevent overdose.      
    • Avoid using different drugs at the same time or using drugs and alcohol together. 
    • Don’t use alone. Leave door unlocked. Tell someone to check on you.
    • If you feel you must use while alone, consider using the Lifeguard app www.lifeguardDH.com which can connect you with emergency medical dispatchers in the event of an overdose. Download at the App Store or Google Play.  
    • Test by using a small amount, then go slow.
    • Carry a Naloxone kit and know how to use it. Naloxone is available at:
      • ANKORS, EKASS, IH Public Health & Mental Health Substance Use Locations
      • Pharmacies located throughout Cranbrook
      • Recognize the signs of an OD: slow or no breathing, gurgling or gasping, lips/fingertips turning blue, difficult to rouse (awaken), non-responsive.
      • Call 9-1-1 immediately It is still safe (and important) to use emergency services during the COVID -19 pandemic
      • Open airway and give rescue breaths using face mask
      • Give naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
    • Check your drugs. Fentanyl test strips are available at:
    ANKORS #209 – 16th Ave North Cranbrook  250-426-3383
    EKASS – 250-489-4344

    www.drugchecking.ca

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  • New additions to the COVID-19 resource section

    Event Date: 31-Mar-2020

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 31-Mar-2020 New additions to the COVID-19 resource section

    East Kootenay Addictions Services is building and adding to the COVID-19 Response Resources section of the website. Follow the link here COVID-19 Resources for more information

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  • Managing the Covid-19 Virus Update
    Event Date: 25-Mar-2020
  • Managing the Covid-19 Virus Update

    Event Date: 25-Mar-2020

    Posted by Theresa Bartraw | on 25-Mar-2020 Managing the Covid-19 Virus Update

    March 25, 2020

    Dear Clients:

    As part of our ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic, EKASS has followed the recommendations of the Federal and Provincial Governments, and has closed all our offices effective March 18, 2020.    

    To stay in line with the precautions suggested by the Federal Government of self-distancing, this office will be closed indefinitely.  Please check our website www.ekass.com for updated information and links to resources and supports.

    We are continuing to provide counselling services to our clients via phone or web based options.  

    Clients on the OAT Program will be contacted by the doctors at the Interior Chemical Dependency Office in Kamloops to ensure that they continue to receive scripts.

    Harm Reduction supplies continue to be available as we continue to provide supplies to our community partners.

    We recognize that these are stressful times.  We are here to support you and want people to stay in touch as we navigate this situation together.  If you have questions or concerns, or to book an appointment, please call the Cranbrook office at 250-489-4344 for further information.  We will be checking the phones messages daily and responding as quickly as we can.

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