Dear Christine, Majorly Concerned in Madison Heights

Dear Christine,

I read your articles every week and enjoy them very much.I never really thought much about writing, but a situation has come up and I don’t have the answers.A friend has recently decided, or been encouraged, to quit drinking.This has been going on for years, but now she has lost her job and her relationship.My friend and I want to help her get some help but we are not sure what resources are out there. She has no insurance and not much money so getting her into a facility to get sober might be out.The drinking has been heavy and daily for a long time now and we aren’t even sure if she can do it without medical help.Any suggestions? Thanks, Majorly Concerned in Madison Heights

Dear Majorly Concerned,

Much as I want to help you help your friend, I am hearing two different issues or problems in your question. You state that your friend has recently “decided” to quit drinking. And after a comma, you said something very different: “or (she) has been encouraged, to quit drinking.” Though my mother was an English teacher and she corrected my grammar all the time, this isn’t just about semantics. This is about what you want versus what your friend believes she needs. If she truly has hit bottom by losing her job and relationship, she may well be ready to decide to quit drinking, but if she is only being pressured by friends and caving for a minute to get you and her friends off her back, then don’t be surprised if she doesn’t stick with it. Even for the most committed and serious alcoholics and drug addicts, there is a very high percentage of those who quit who relapse, often several and/or many times. Your friend has to really want her sobriety more than anything else in her life, and that’s a tough point to push someone else to. Interventions by family and friends confronting the user can be helpful in getting the momentum for treatment going, but as you can see with the Cable TV programs that depict these interventions, and the ones where movie stars are in residential treatment for alcohol and drug dependence and abuse, it’s a very difficult decision for the user to stick to.

A helpful resource online to check out all the options is http://www.recovery.org/browse/michigan/. You can call them at 1 -888-939-3614. It covers all the 177 Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Centers in Michigan and has lots of helpful frequently asked questions for addicts and their loved ones. Another source of finding therapists, substance abuse Treatment services and self-help and support groups is the Michigan Mental Health Net-worker at www.mhweb.org. Resources are listed by county, and by type of treatment and groups, and there is a therapist directory which has therapist bios, where you can see who takes what insurance, who has sliding fees, and who specializes in addiction and recovery. Look for therapists who are Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC).

Most residential treatment centers offering long term programs of 30 -90 days, and they will insist that an addict be sober anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks before admitting them. If your friend has been drinking heavily for a long time, it probably isn’t safe for her to quit cold turkey at home, or with friends. Most, if not all, residential treatment programs want the user to detoxnbat least a couple of days. The reason is that if alcohol is suddenly withdrawn, it can cause the “DTs” delirium tremens, which could kill her. Anyone coming off of alcohol should be in a hospital, under the watchful eye of doctors and nurses, as they can administer medications to make sure the DTs don’t kill your friend. Private hospitals are often unwilling to take indigent patients, but there are hospitals that will take her for a couple of days to dry out safely. And yes, you and I as taxpayers, end up picking up the tab for her stay. But she’s alive, and hopefully willing to go into a treatment program.

Some examples of those sort of programs are Sacred Heart in Memphis www.sacredheartcenter.com, Harbor Oaks Hospital in New Baltimore www.harboroaks.com, The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Clinton Twp, www.usc.salvationarmy.orgin Macomb County.

In Wayne County, there are a number of programs with the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries www.drmm.org, Eleanor Hutzel Recovery Center at the University of Detroit Health Center in Detroit. Also there is the Mariner’s Inn in Detroit, www.marinersinn.org. In Oakland County there are , Havenwyck http://havenwyckhospital.com/programs/residential-treatment/and Maplegrove http://www.henryford.com/body.cfm?id=54409. There are many more you can find quickly through many of the websites listed above. One free resource is Alcoholics Anonymous, which has local chapters almost every afternoon and evening throughout the week in the area. There are groups that are gay and lesbian, some that are openly gay friendly, and others that don’t specify about orientation, but may be mostly if not all straight. A common prescription for someone coming out of detox in the hospital is to do “90 in 90” meaning go to 90 AA meetings in 90 days. This helps the person have structure and accountability and helps the user develop new friendships and support networks with people who aren’t drinking, but they also understand the journey of quitting drinking and working on sobriety. Once she finds a couple of groups she is comfortable with, she can look for someone further along in recovery to be her sponsor, someone she can call as often as needed rather than drink. To find meetings, use the website http://www.recovery.org/browse/michigan/.

Another path to sobriety is to go to Intensive Out Patient (IOP) programs. These are usually at various psychotherapy clinics or centers that specialize in addiction recovery, meeting 5 mornings a week, or 5 evenings a week for 2 hours at a time for education and support.

The most important decision involved is your friend making her own decision that she needs to quit drinking and needs help and support during that process. Some people do quit on their own, but they are a small minority. If you can’t convince your friend to quit drinking and you are working harder at finding resources for her than she is, perhaps you would benefit from Al Anon, which is a 12 step group for friends and family of Alcoholics and Addicts. Often family and friends are “enablers” who try to help the addict, but end up covering for them when the consequences of their addiction are painful, which allows them to not really learn how severe the consequences of addiction are. I wish you and your friend well and hope she decides to make a choice for herself to live and live fully.

Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd, 
Suite C 
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888Click here to email Christine.

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