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The Impact of Addiction on The Family System

This blog post is contributed by Ashley Taylor, MSW, LMSW, of Heights Family Counseling and Rachel Evans, LMSW, of the Center for Recovering Families

When someone we love deals with addiction, wishful thinking tends to surround their recovery. We think to ourselves, “If this person just gets better, then everything else will fall into place.” No matter how desirable that outcome, substance use disorder is a systems disease that requires a systems solution. Substance use disorders not only affect the person suffering, but also the people closest to them.

“By the time people get treatment, the family system has often regulated around the addiction to maintain the status quo,” says Rachel Evans, family therapist at the Center for Recovering Families. “The addiction has become the locus of control.”

Everyone who is involved in the system has adapted in ways they might not even recognize in order to maintain a sense of normalcy and peace, while watching someone they love battle a difficult disease. Because of this, many families are exhausted by the time their loved one enters treatment. Regardless of the ways in which the support system has regulated itself around the addiction, the relationship between the person dealing with substance use disorder and their families can be an important one.

impact of addiction on family system

“The collaborative effort of treatment is very beneficial,” says Rachel. When appropriate, having family members present for treatment improves success rates, and treatment benefits both the person struggling with substance use disorder, as well as the family members. When it comes to recovery, it is crucial that everyone is willing to do things differently in order to set family recovery at the core of the system. Through family recovery, everyone is able to gather and understand different strategies for coping with the new way of life for this person, as well as unlearning potentially harmful practices that had been in use prior to the recovery process.

This help can take the form of family treatment, support groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, and even individual therapy. When an entire system is affected, addressing the entire system is the most effective treatment. This takes the responsibility off one individual and makes the process a collaborative one. In this way, the person going through recovery can feel more supported in their journey, and feel the love and encouragement from those closest to them.

The process of addiction recovery is rarely linear, nor does it only impact the person working to overcome substance use disorder. When addiction is viewed as a systems disease, it can be addressed throughout the whole system. By viewing this process in a more collaborative light, we are able to better support and understand the journey of our loved ones.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, call us today at 713.914.0556, or contact us through our website.

A Message to Those Affected by the Opioid Crisis

This blog post is authored by Mary H. Beck, LMSW, CAI, President & CEO of The Council on Recovery

Most of us are well aware of the opioid crisis facing our communities. We read the grave statistics about addiction and overdose deaths experienced by so many. Impassioned advocates call us to action, treatment specialists inform us on the most cutting-edge practices, legislators pass laws and allocate financial resources to combat this public health emergency. All of this is vitally important.

Yet we are facing a parallel crisis, which is tearing apart families and leaving people in severe distress – a crisis to which our communities are often blind: the trauma and grief experienced by family and friends of those struggling with addiction or who are trying to live in the wake of an overdose death.

Our loved ones die – it is a sad, painful truth. For years, many of us live in fear of this truth – knowing that when someone we love so deeply is suffering from a chronic illness, death may be the outcome. We cherish the moments of reprieve and hope for recovery. At other times, we are doing everything in our power to save them – we suffer in silence once they are gone.

This is true whether your loved one dies from cancer, heart failure, brain disease, and yes, addiction too. If you are feeling the pain of a loved one’s substance abuse or their death, you are not alone. Over 100,000 people have died of a drug overdose in the past year alone – leaving spouses, parents, siblings, and friends behind.

How did we get here?

Americans take 80 percent of all prescription painkillers in the world. New reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area confirm that drug overdoses have surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Houston and nationwide. The sharpest increases were deaths involving opioids, primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl. In the last year, fentanyl related deaths in Houston increased by 40%.

opioid crisis image

The extremity of this surge is a cause for grave concern for our team, but it only strengthens our resolve to partner with local leaders and community partners to tackle this issue comprehensively and systemically. This takes a multi-pronged approach – focused on education and awareness, providing intervention and treatment, opening doors to recovery, and when necessary supporting family and friends in their grief.

If you are one of the millions watching a loved one’s addiction spiral out of control, or if you have already lost a loved one due to an overdose, you deserve the same compassion and support others receive when they are grieving.  You need a place to turn, where your strength and courage are honored, while your grief and emotions are nurtured. The Council on Recovery is that place – a place to start when you don’t know where to turn and a place to heal.

If you, a loved one, or a client/patient is struggling with opioid use, contact us today, and we can get them the help they need. For more information on our opioid use services, download our flyer.

The Council Responds to the State of Emergency on Child and Adolescent Mental Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association declared a state of emergency in child and adolescent mental health, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the inequities that result from structural racism. The Council on Recovery remains steadfast in our goal to help any and every child and adolescent affected by substance use and other mental health disorders in the midst of these national crises.

Child and adolescent mental health had worsened in the decade before the pandemic, with suicide becoming the second leading cause of death among this population by 2018. This only intensified with the challenges children and adolescents faced in the last year and a half. Students lost consistent access to friends and adults supports. Many took on new responsibilities, including childcare, housework and part time jobs, putting added pressure on developing minds. Tragically, more than 140,000 children in the U.S. lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID-19, with youth of color disproportionately impacted.

child and adolescent mental health

With substance use disorders and overdoses continually skyrocketing across all demographics, we commend and support the proposals included in this state of emergency declaration, including but not limited to:

  • Increase federal funding dedicated to ensuring all families and children can access evidence-based mental health screening, diagnosis, and treatment to appropriately address their mental health needs, with particular emphasis on meeting the needs of under-resourced populations.
  • Improve access to technology to assure continued availability of telehealth to provide mental health care to all populations.
  • Increase implementation and sustainable funding of effective models of school-based mental health care.
  • Fully fund comprehensive, community-based systems of care that connect families in need of behavioral health services and supports for their child with evidence-based interventions in their home, community or school.
  • Promote and pay for trauma-informed care services that support relational health and family resilience.

“One thing we know is that children and adolescents are 100% our future,” says Alejandra Ortiz, LMSW, adolescent therapist at the Center for Recovering Families, “And it is our responsibility that they feel empowered and safe enough, physically and mentally, to take on the curve balls life can throw at them.”

The Council’s Center for Recovering Families offers assessment, counseling, education and support for children and adolescents. This can include parent consultations and coaching as well. To learn more about our Children & Adolescent Services, call 713.914.0556, or contact us through our website today.

Houston Sports Legends in Recovery

The word is out – our speaker series will return in-person with Houston Astro and Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell as the keynote speaker at our 2021 Fall Luncheon on October 15, 2021. Along with Craig Biggio, Derek Bell and Lance Berkman, Bagwell was part of the “Killer B’s”, the core lineup for the Astros in the late 90s and early 2000s. During his run, the Astros qualified for the playoffs six times, culminating in a World Series appearance in 2005! Despite his success, Bagwell struggled with addiction, reminding us that this disease can affect anyone – even our hometown heroes. Here are three more inspiring Houston sports legends who have dedicated themselves to a life of recovery.

Houston sports legend Jeff Bagwell's induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

John Lucas

John Lucas played on and off from 1976 to 1990 as point guard for the Houston Rockets as he struggled with substance use disorders behind the scenes. The team repeatedly suspended Lucas before he started treatment for his substance use in order to stay in the NBA. Lucas has been in recovery for more than 30 years now, and has started his own recovery program for athletes while also serving as an assistant coach for the Rockets.

Bill Worrell

A native Houstonian, Bill Worrell was one of the most prominent voices in Houston sports for four decades. Worrell served as a television broadcaster for the Houston Astros for 20 consecutive seasons, as well as the television play-by-play announcer for the Houston Rockets from the early 1980s until his retirement earlier this year. At the height of his career, he committed to a life in recovery after struggling with alcohol use, and credited his long-standing career to his sobriety.

Earl Campbell

Earl Campbell, nicknamed “The Tyler Rose,” was the Houston Oilers’ legendary running back from 1978-1984. The local-boy-turned-pro-football-star never shirked from any challenge—a quality that made him one of the great football legends of all time, but led to significant physical injuries. Campbell found relief through prescription painkillers, which eventually took over his life. In 2009, he undertook the challenge of living drug and alcohol free after his sons initiated an intervention. Campbell shared his story at our 2012 Fall Luncheon, helping The Council to raise more than $400,000 to make recovery possible for his fellow Houstonians.

To help local individuals and families get the education and treatment they need to recover from the effects of addiction, join us on October 15th at our annual fall luncheon with Jeff Bagwell. Purchase a ticket here.

Recovery is for Everyone: A Recovery Month Message from our President & CEO

This blog post was contributed by Mary Beck, LMSW, CAI, President & CEO of The Council on Recovery

Friends,

This National Recovery Month, we celebrate and honor our friends, family members, coworkers and colleagues who are in recovery from addiction and other mental health disorders. Recovery is not a single finish line; it is a daily, lifelong commitment to better oneself and reach one’s full potential in the face of chronic substance abuse and mental health conditions. Such an effort can be difficult for anyone, but 75 years of service to our community has taught us this – with adequate resources and support, recovery is possible for everyone.

The theme of this year’s Recovery Month is “Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community.” In this year of growth and change for our organization, this theme reminds us of our commitment to welcome everyone to recovery by lowering barriers to recovery support, creating inclusive spaces and programs, and broadening our understanding of what recovery means for people with different needs and experiences.

Lowering barriers to recovery

To fulfill our vision for a community in which substance abuse is no longer a major problem, we must be willing to offer our services to all who need them. Serving the diverse community of Houston means understanding the various needs of people from differing backgrounds, as well as the unique barriers to recovery they may face.

Whether that means providing virtual services, combatting shame and stigma that still exist with substance use disorders and related mental health conditions, or offering an extensive range of treatment services to meet each person’s individual needs, our team is dedicated to helping all Houstonians who need us.

Creating inclusive spaces and programs

Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer, which means the opportunity of recovery can and should transcend race, gender, age, sexual orientation, creed, wealth, and any other label. Addiction and other mental health issues can affect anyone at any time, yet we know that those most affected often are afraid and uncertain or unable to access services necessary for recovery. Through our comprehensive service offerings, wellness opportunities, and compassionate, diverse team of addiction professionals, we strive to create an inclusive environment that celebrates our differences and unites us in a common goal of recovery for our entire community.

Broadening our understanding of recovery

Creating inclusive spaces for healing also requires understanding that recovery is not a single, defined process, neither is it limited to those with substance use disorders. The reason there is no universally agreed-upon definition for recovery is that the journey of recovery looks different for everyone. According to SAMHSA, recovery is “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Our understanding of the effects of substance use, as well as its relation to other mental health conditions, has greatly improved in the past few decades, along with our approaches to treatment and recovery support. Through initiatives like our Center for Co-Occurring Disorders, we are working with trusted organizations across Houston to broaden our understanding of addiction and recovery to treat those who need our help more effectively.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use or another mental health condition, we welcome you to begin your own recovery journey today. Call us at (713) 914-0556, or contact us through our website, and our intake team can connect you with the help you need.

Announcing Mary Beck as President & CEO

The Council on Recovery is pleased to announce that Mary Beck, LMSW, CAI, has been selected to serve as its next President & CEO. Beck, previously the Executive Vice President for The Council, will succeed Mel Taylor, MSW, who is retiring after three decades in the role, and a lifetime of service to the Houston community. Beck will officially begin the position at the beginning of The Council’s 2021-2022 fiscal year on September 1, and Taylor will continue to support the organization’s Foundation in an emeritus position.

After Taylor announced his intention to retire, Board of Trustees Chairman Dean Quinn formed a search committee comprised of tenured board members, and hired an executive search firm to launch a nationwide search. After five months of interviews and discussions, the search committee unanimously recommended to elect Beck, who was then approved by The Council’s Board of Trustees.

“It was a clear decision for us,” says Quinn. “We look forward to working with Mary going forward and seeing her visionary leadership guide this long-standing organization to further success.”

Mary Beck (center) pictured with Mel Taylor (left) and Dean Quinn (right)

Having served The Council since 2003, Beck is an accomplished and respected executive with a distinctive passion for supporting and uplifting the Houston community and behavioral health field. Before serving as Executive Vice President, she worked in various roles, including youth intervention, prevention, program development and evaluation, and clinical operations. In these roles, she oversaw creation of a centralized call center and a significant reorganization of programs and services for effectiveness and financial viability, among other accomplishments.

“Knowing how thoughtful and deliberate the search process was, it is very humbling to be considered as the best person to lead The Council,” says Beck. “I will commit myself to live up to that each and every day I serve in this role.”

Click here to view the press release on this announcement.