By way of AlAnon service work, I met a psychiatrist at a large, hospital based treatment center. They have inpatient treatment, long term outpatient, counseling--a comprehensive place, and based on 12 steps .
Family of inpatients are required to attend the six session family program (everyone else is welcome). I was asked to develop a talk on boundaries (from an AlAnon perspective) for one of the sessions, as that concept always generates the most questions.
I have to attend all six sessions first, as well as at least four open talks where addicts share their stories. Last night was the lecture on how drugs of abuse (of course, that includes the drug alcohol) affect the body and brain. I was expecting animated DNA with cartoon heads, and a laser pointer, but the counselor used handmade poster boards to explain the science behind addiction.
I sat around a table with shell shocked family members who looked like they wanted to jump from acetaldehyde and GABA receptors to "why won't they just stop".
I thought about the long process a family goes through; it's not over with a rehab, a few meetings, jail, or promises. Families get stuck in why me, why us, and other unanswerable and ultimately unimportant questions. We were given a nifty little chart that demonstrated how every stage of addiction was mirrored by predictable family behavior (a progressive and chronic disease).
At any point along the time line, any family member can step out of the diagram, and work on changing the only person they can-themself.