Adam Jablin, Hanley Center Alum
Addiction is a family disease. It not only affects the person with addiction, but their family members and the family system itself. When one has the courage to sign up for the Family Program, they are given the opportunity to learn quite a bit from other families who are participating. It’s an amazing journey with a lot of sharing. The facilitators of the family program at Hanley Center will explain to the group what the disease is like and its effects on their lives – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. The family members get to share in a safe place how alcoholism and addiction and losing their loved to the disease is devastating to them. But—together, all will gain knowledge about the family disease, family systems and roles, recovery skills, relapse education, and much, much more
My Experience at Hanley Center’s Family Program
Winona, who was the head counselor of the family program at the time, stood up and headed to the blackboard in the front of the cafeteria. “First and foremost, addiction is a disease. It is primary, chronic, progressive, and fatal. Those are the four qualifications that make up a disease and why one can use insurance for substance abuse treatment. This is not a bad habit or lack of willpower.”
When a loved one, spouse, child, or parent suffers from alcoholism and addiction, the whole family suffers.
That’s why we call it the “family disease”. I remember within just a few intense hours of introductions, the families understood the real torture of alcoholism and addiction—how our minds and bodies were different from those of normal people, how the first drink or drug was a choice, but the addiction that followed was not. They gained some compassion for us while we were starting to recover from the disease and grew more appreciative of our loved ones and realized the destruction we caused.
The goal through this process is to teach how to detach with love.
To love more by caring less. To allow our loved ones to feel consequences, and to become…independent! Quite the conundrum.
I’ll personally never forget when Father Ron Beshara came into our Family Group and taught all of us about spirituality and how the 12-Step program can help heal all of us!
Here’s an excerpt from my book, Lotsaholic—From a Sick to Sober Superman that details more of my experience.
We finished lunch and headed back to the Family Program classroom. “Hello, my brothers and sisters.” Father Ron entered the room abruptly, like Kramer in the television sitcom Seinfeld, wearing his usual clerical garb. He passed out a document on integrating spirituality into the family’s recovery. He looked around the room making direct eye contact with each of us, ensuring sure we paid attention. “Spirituality is the art of revealing and experiencing a life of consciousness and a consciousness of life—an appreciation for and a gratitude of life. It is waking up to the mystery of life within and being fully alive. Spirituality is a way of living life. We can be asleep or awake, a survivor or celebrator. It reveals the quality of our relationships, of our conversations, and our daily lives.”
He gave an amazing presentation—more like a performance. His presence brought a special energy to the room. I felt like I had left my body. I pulled in a deep breath and looked around the room. Everyone was engaged, listening…healing.
Father Ron paced back and forth, “The Twelve Step program treats the whole person—spiritual, emotional, and physical. A recovery program based on spirituality focuses on our awareness, on changing, and on practice. It includes our relationship with self, with others, and with God.” Father Ron paused, then continued in a softer voice, “Many people are afraid of the word God. Please, don’t be. We are not a religious cult here. Spirituality is not a religion but a way of life. It is not acquired, you see, but discovered and nurtured since we are born with it.”
I could not hear these lessons enough. Past attempts of studying and seeking through the Bible, Torah, Kabballah, and Buddhism flashed through my mind. I searched, but it was impossible to find when I was drunk. I truly believed that one day it would all just click—burning bush—white-light moment. I didn’t realize I had to change. What a breakthrough. Now, I watched the faces of the family members in the room light up, like mine did during treatment. Father Ron broke down everyone’s walls and taught them to believe. I wanted to do that!
“On the back of the page I provide you with a brief guide of Twelve Stepping through Life.” Father Ron pointed to the back of his worksheet. We all followed his lead and flipped our pages over. “One, we admit we are powerless over alcohol, drugs, people, places, and things and that our lives are unmanageable. This is honesty. Two, we believe God can restore us to sanity. This is hope. Three, we turn our will and lives over to God. This is awareness and faith. Four, we make a moral self-inventory. This is courage. Five, we admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being our wrongs. This is integrity. Six, we are ready to have God remove these character defects. This is willingness. Seven, we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. This is humility. Eight, we make a list of those persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them. This is transformation and discipline. Nine, we make direct amends to those people. This is forgiveness. Ten, we continue to take personal inventory and admit our wrongs. This is acceptance. Eleven, we pray and meditate to improve our contact with God and carry out his will. This is awareness. Twelve, having had a spiritual awakening, we share this message and live these principles. This is service.” He put the paper down and paced slowly in front of us with his hands together steepled. “This is my abbreviated version. To all family members, these are the same exact twelve steps that you can use in your recovery.”
Father Ron slowly looked around the room and smiled genuinely. “Please remember that life is a precious gift. God bless you all and be well.” Everybody stood up, applauding like we were in a rock concert wanting an encore. Father Ron waved and slowly walked out the door.
I cannot stress enough how valuable and healing the Family Program is at Hanley Center.
It truly catapults one into a deeper level of recovery, love, and hope! I will always look back on my experience with a great sense of joy at being able to witness family members and their loved ones find understanding and healing.
Adam Jablin is an author, speaker, Certified Life Coach, mentor, and alum of Hanley Center.
Msgr. Ronald N. Beshara, STL, JLC, was Vice President of Mission and Spiritual Care at Hanley Center. Father Ron passed on September 5, 2011, after a brief illness. He touched so many of our patient’s lives. He is both remembered and missed.
Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.