Holidays, Siblings and Recovery

    I am pleased to share this week’s blog from Donna DeStefano, a colleague and dear friend who was one of the Moms featured in PDFNJ's website TalkNowNJ.com.


    New Year's thoughts by Donna DeStefano:

    The holidays are for celebrating traditions, faith, love and life. When you have someone in your family who is in recovery after a long heart-wrenching journey, it’s wonderful, but your family dynamics are never the same.

    There can be resentment and fear that at any time relapse can veer its ugly head. When you have siblings who have fought this journey together, you have to remember that they have a different perspective than you do. They have lost something too. Oftentimes they have been put in a position where they’ve “protected” their sibling by lying for them, not telling on them, watching them do drugs or buy drugs, they’ve been manipulated and stolen from, and even asked to urinate for them so they can pass a drug test. They have visited them in jail, they have listened to peers talk about their sibling, sometimes have gotten beat up because of their sibling, and yet the entire time they still loved and supported them. They have mentally prepared themselves for “that phone call” that their sibling has overdosed. They are mad at their parents because they are only focused on the one who is doing drugs. They have been robbed of a carefree childhood.

     I know first hand the pain that families feel when they are trying to rebuild from this ordeal. Eventually, the trust is gone, the resentment and fear are too much to handle. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a real thing. Events in our life can trigger these feelings at any time. Collateral damage. Siblings, I believe are hurt the most. They are caught in the chaos.

    Healing can take a long time. Not all families are ready or open to counseling. During the holidays we have family celebrations, relatives and friends that come to visit. There are so many pressures. Getting together and facing the person who hurt you the most is sometimes too hard. There are deep scars and unresolved issues that sometimes are too much to forgive.

    Sobriety, as wonderful as that may be, is not the same as recovering. Just because you are “substance free” that doesn’t mean you are well. Recovery means taking responsibility for the broken relationships that occurred when the person with a substance use disorder was using. Repairing broken relationships is critical to the process of recovery. With hard work, patience and time you can get there.

    Each member of your family has suffered. Understanding addiction, being informed, educating yourself and finding a good support system will help you heal. Whether your one of the lucky ones and still have your loved one here or your loved one has paid the ultimate price and overdosed, your family will need to move forward. A new year is around the corner. Life is too short. Let’s all try to make it a good one.

     There are many resources out there to help your family. If counseling isn’t an option you can go to Al-Anon/ALA-TEEN, NAR-Anon, speak to your church, school SAC, local family community meetings and state resources.

    Please visit www.pickawareness.com. I have done the research for you. It’s all there. I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!

    Donna DeStefano

    A website featuring a 20 minute video of 4 moms who provide crucial insight on how to identify a possible addiction problem and what to do to prevent this disease from claiming more lives.  The website also offers a quiz, signs and symptoms of opiate abuse and 5 steps to keep your kids safe.