By: Kari Merk, MACP LMHC Residence XII Family Counselor


Being impacted by the disease of addiction can be a traumatic experience for all involved. The women who come to treatment at Residence XII are being provided an opportunity to restore body, mind and spirit, to learn the tools necessary to live a healthy lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol. Often their families and friends are left trying to clean up the debris field left behind. Feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, fear and disappointment seem to overwhelm each person close the addict as they ride the roller coaster of this disease. This emotional impact of the illness is what constitutes the family disease.

The role of the family program at Residence XII is to help friends and family develop respectful acceptance, understanding and support to reduce the blame, shame, or guilt that is often experienced by the loved ones of the addicted woman. Residence XII looks at treatment as the family’s opportunity to receive guidance, acceptance, support and new coping skills for their own healing. By participating in Residence XII’s Family Program the people important to the women in treatment learn that recovery is a process for both the addict and her family. Informational classes, facilitated group discussions and individual family sessions provide the opportunity for family members and friends to learn the tools necessary to begin the healing process for all involved.

In the ten years I have worked at Residence XII, I’ve had the privilege of watching families slowly begin to heal through the tools they have obtained in the program. A willingness to change behaviors for everyone in the recovering woman’s support system is the first step toward moving the entire family into a life of recovery.

A family in recovery is more than a family without alcohol or drugs in their lives, it is a family that is completely different than it was before.

It’s the newly recovering mom playing and reading to her young child.

It’s a couple laughing as they practice their newly learned communication skills.

It’s a parent learning to set boundaries to save the life of their child.

It’s sitting in a room full of family members talking about their feelings and forming their own support system that will last long after their loved one leaves treatment.

It’s the babies and toddlers that come back with our alums that are only on this earth because their moms had the courage to get sober.