Peter Palanca, TASC Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
(Chicago) – What do family members need to know about addiction treatment and recovery?
TASC Executive Vice President Peter Palanca was the featured guest on the August 20 Addiction Today radio program, where he offered information for families of individuals in early recovery.
Hosted by veteran broadcaster Russ Morley, the 30-minute show delved into the hopes, expectations, and experiences of family members after a loved one completes treatment.
“When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, family members often breathe a sigh of relief when their loved one gets into treatment,” said Morley. “Sometimes it’s an outpatient program, and sometimes an inpatient residential situation. But going into treatment is only the beginning of the path to recovery. What happens after treatment?”
Families sometimes assume that once a person is in treatment, the problem is fixed, and everyone can get on with their lives.
“As a matter of fact, they just wait until that treatment episode is finished so that they can have their son or their daughter, or their spouse or their partner back,” said Palanca. “The fact is, that’s just not how it works, and it’s important to recognize that.”
There still will be challenges and questions for the family, he said.
“One of the things that recovery certainly can do is it can help to restore hope, and it can help to restore trust, and it can help to restore confidence in relationships within the family,” he said.
“However, that doesn’t happen overnight… That’s why it’s referred to as recovery, not recovered.”
There is a difference between treatment and recovery, Palanca added.
Similar to other chronic conditions, treatment begins to address the presenting symptoms of the illness. As with most health issues, Palanca explained, there are different types of treatment, such as individual therapy, group counseling, the use of medications, and some combination of these. There are also different modalities, including residential treatment, hospital-based inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient, and programs with a strong 12-step orientation.
Extending from that, recovery is a lifelong process of managing one’s health and quality of life without addictive substances.
“What recovery looks like,” he said, “is living a life, on a day-to-day basis, with improving health, improving wellness, improving quality of life that includes relationships, especially with family, but also work-related relationships, or school-related relationships… Treatment begins to teach people how to do that.”
Referencing the 3 Cs often heard at Al-Anon meetings and in other family support settings, Palanca noted that it’s important for family members to understand that “they didn’t cause their loved one’s addiction, they can’t control their loved one’s addiction, and they certainly can’t cure their love one’s addiction.”
The same is true for recovery; family members cannot control loved one’s recovery process.
Morley and Palanca discussed the fact that even as recovery begins, the original issues linger within the family. Addiction has components of shame and guilt, and “if only” scenarios that don’t help the addicted person in recovery or the family members. Managing expectations is important for family members, they agreed.
Listen to the 30-minute program here.
Addiction Today is presented by the Hanley Center at Origins.
Palanca is a prominent voice for prevention, treatment, and recovery. Based at TASC’s administrative offices in Chicago, he has worked for nearly 40 years in the field, from leading prevention initiatives to heading treatment organizations to directing TASC’s service delivery for more than 25,000 people in Illinois each year.
To learn more about TASC, please visit www.tasc.org.