A case study with... David Smith
David Smith* used the Family Focus service, which is developed and run by the Nelson Trust, in November 2014 by attending a 2-day family seminar aimed for families with members involved in substance misuse. We spoke to David and found out the difference the seminar had made to him.
Before attending the seminar my wife and I were frustrated by repeating the same mistakes in supporting our son, who has both mental health issues as well as a history of substance misuse. As our son is living away from home we were not always aware of his problems and due to him having schizophrenia and delayed maturity, he cannot learn from his mistakes and had become addicted to heroin. This was 7 years ago and he had managed to come clean through an ATU programme but relapsed and was taking various drugs. I was upset at seeing my son in a drugged condition and always needing more money. His spending was far exceeding the amount I could afford. Our son kept asking me for more money, promising he would pay us back. When his debt reached £800 I told him we could no longer countenance this. We agreed on a budget which he would receive every two days. Our son also agreed to attend Turning Point and said he would try to get clean again. It was at this time I became aware of the family seminar weekend.
One of the most important messages my wife and I came across in the seminar was for us to try not to continue to “enable” our son to easily continue his addiction and for our son to realise for himself the consequences of continuing to take drugs. I was made to realise that this would require the family letting go of our feelings of responsibility for our son. We were also made aware of the necessity of establishing boundaries and were shown the strategies to use to achieve these boundaries. Our son has now seen the need to change but there is still a long way to go and due to his mental health compromises were required. We are now trying to establish boundaries, help our son manage his money, and have tried to become more controlled in our own management of the situation.
I felt the seminar was a really helpful opportunity to meet other families, partners and parents who were experiencing the same problems and worries as we were. For the first time ever, I was able to talk to others with similar problems and this in itself was somehow therapeutic. After attending the seminar I was particularly pleased and impressed with the sensitive and caring approach adopted by the course leader, and the way in which she helped everyone to see how the general guidelines could be applied to their individual circumstances.
If the Family Focus service did not exist, I think we would have continued to make the same mistakes and would have continued in enabling the addict. Our family would have continued to be emotionally involved and the family might have fallen completely apart. The addict might have turned to crime, leading to incarceration, melt down and total misery all around.
Looking forward, my wife and I plan to try to continue to be firm in our resolve to not enable our son to easily continue his habit, and we hope he will strive to make a better life for himself. I feel our son’s happiness in ours.
* Name has been changed.
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