Home Workplace Helping people get to Recovery Street

Helping people get to Recovery Street

Basic guidelines, insights and a simple recovery action plan, for approaching a colleague struggling with addiction or a compulsive behaviour.

Painting a picture: Kevin Kennedy is cofounder of Kennedy Street recovery projects

The Greek philosopher Socrates taught us that self-knowledge is the foundation on which all other knowledge is built. Self-knowledge is also a starting point for many recovery pathways.
One way of looking at recovery is as a transition from a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol and/or other drugs and other dysfunctional behaviours – such as codependency, gambling, sex – to a healthy relationship with yourself, your family and your community.

Have a recovery-oriented alcohol & drug policy in place, particularly if you safety is critical.

1 in 4 of us will have at least one mental health issue to cope with at some point in our lives. Rather than ignoring this fact, it’s more productive as a company to encourage honest communication, and to offer recovery support and case management of these conditions, and show your staff that you really do care. In implementing this recovery culture in the workplace, your staff will flourish as will your bottom-line profits. Also, in the very worse case scenarios, where a dismissal might be the only option, if you have a case management system in place, you will have collated all your evidence to suggest you went above and beyond the call of duty to support and encourage your staff members towards recovery.

Seek professional help.

If you learn that a staff member is struggling with substance misuse, drugs (prescribed or illegal), alcohol or another addiction, the first thing to do is to seek professional help in the form of a specialist doctor, a trained recovery coach, an addictions counsellor, or treatment centre, all depending on severity and symptoms the staff member is presenting.

Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life. There are many pathways to recovery as everyone has unique needs, strengths, goals, health attitudes, behaviours and expectations. Pathways to recovery are highly personal, and generally involve a redefinition of identity in the face of crisis or a process of progressive change. The pathway to recovery may include one or more episodes of psychosocial and/or pharmacological treatment. For some, recovery involves neither treatment nor involvement with mutual-aid groups. Recovery is self-directed and empowering, a concept which dovetails with life/executive/performance coaching.

While the pathway to recovery can involve one or more periods of time when activities are directed or guided to a substantial degree by others, recovery is fundamentally a self-directed process. It leads individuals toward the highest level of autonomy of which they are capable. Through self-empowerment, people become optimistic about life goals. There is a personal recognition of the need for change and transformation. Recovery is holistic: it is a process through which we gradually achieve greater balance of mind, body and spirit, and in relation to family, work and community. Recovery has cultural dimensions: a person’s cultural experience often shapes the recovery path that is right for him or her.

Recovery exists on a continuum of improved health and wellness. It might involve relapse and other setbacks, which are a natural part of the continuum but not inevitable. Wellness is the result of improved care and balance of mind, body and spirit.

Recovery emerges from hope and gratitude. Individuals in or seeking recovery see that people can and do overcome obstacles that and they cultivate gratitude for the opportunities that each day of recovery offers.

Recovery is supported by peers and allies. A common denominator in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who contribute hope and support and suggest strategies and resources for change. Peers, as well as family members and other allies, form vital support networks for people in recovery.

Check out ‘open’ Al-Anon and other 12-step meetings.

Al-Anon is a 12-step programme for people who have a relationship with someone struggling with an addiction. You can find helpful information from people who have come through exactly what you are facing. Self-help groups help the patient to meet other people with the same problem, which often boosts motivation as well as being a useful source of education and support; examples include Al-Anon and Families Anonymous as well as Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (click list).

Treatment options for addiction depend on several factors, including what type of substance it is and how it affects the user. Typically, treatment includes a combination of inpatient and outpatient programmes – usually depending on severity of use and level of family support, counselling (psychotherapy), self-help groups, pairing with individual sponsors, and medication. If the patient’s family can become involved, there is a better probability of positive outcomes.

Working with your insurance company.

If you have company policy, it would be wise to check immediately the finer details regarding cover for substance misuse – ensure it is not an exclusion. Get quotes elsewhere if necessary.

Communicate with compassion but have a plan.

Try to speak with your staff member directly. Try not to ‘criminalise’ or shame them. You want to build a bridge and be helpful if they are willing to receive your help. Remember that you are dealing with someone who isn’t well, not a bad person who needs to get good. However, being a pushover will not be helpful either. Setting clear boundaries and knowing how you will respond if certain situations come to pass will help you to avoid emotional outbursts. Encourage recovery.

If you are working with the staff member’s family, be on the same page: communicate with them, encourage them to seek help via Al-Anon and Fam-Anon mutual-aid groups (contact details). It is important to have a united front when approaching someone caught in addiction. Having more than one message can undermine families’ and employers’ attempts to be useful.

Take care of yourself.

The situation at hand is rendered more difficult if you are stressed out and run ragged. Speak to your line manager, have a recovery coach/mentor with whom you can liaise. Take care of your needs and remember the acronym: H-A-L-T. Being Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired are signs that you need to address the basics. If you stay balanced, all will go much better. And do try out Al-Anon.

Do not lie or give money to someone who is struggling with addiction.

This is a general rule and I cannot stress it enough. If your staff member is caught in addiction, the money you give them will only enable them to continue their addictive behavior and lifestyle. This is a trap that the addict could then use against you or your company.

Parents: you have some legal power until your child turns 18.

Parents of problem children might be distracted at work because exercising that power in the right way at home is hard. Do seek professional help. If your kid is in trouble, you can ‘force’ them into drug and alcohol treatment. While some people believe that a person must want to change, sometimes sending someone to a well-vetted rehab facility can be very positive.

Online recovery: http://www.intherooms.com.

InTheRooms.com is an online social network for people in recovery and their families. I consider it to be one of the greatest uses of technology. It has over 307,000 members who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other
through live, interactive video meetings, personal profiles, direct messaging and participation in recovery-related groups. It is important to get out to meetings and connect with people as much as you can, but I also see the immense value that ITR provides. If you are housebound, infirm, sick, tired, nervous about connecting face-to- face, or enjoy having a meeting from home, ITR has you covered.
Another perk to online meetings is to connect in real time with an international contingency of people in recovery from addiction. It is the coolest thing to “attend” an ITR meeting and hear from people from all over the world.

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