Freedom from Family Dysfunction: A Guide to Healing Families Battling Addiction or Mental Illness
The headlines ring with opioid epidemic as Americans accidentally overdose on prescription pills. Parents shriek how their kids are addicted to their screens, law enforcement decries the flood of fentanyl increasing the lethality of street drugs, and teen alcohol poisoning rates continue to rise. Now, more than ever, powerlessness and despair fuel the nightmare experienced by family members with someone they love suffering with addiction or mental illness. Directing the family members of someone suffering with addiction or mental illness to let go or let them hit bottom is like telling them to stab themselves in the eye. Recovery books, even those written for family members, extol such directives, thereby causing more pain for family members enduring the powerlessness, futility, and demoralizing impossibility of loving someone trapped by substance abuse, mood, eating, thinking, or trauma-related disorder. IT STOPS WITH ME provides a model for understanding family system turmoil and a method to guide families toward serenity, sanity, and wellness for each member and the system as a whole. Creating connection, rebuilding trust, and defining a sustainable personal posture that feels right, lie at the heart of the theory and techniques shown. For the first time in many families, a happy ending seems possible; and, best of all, the outcome does not depend on the behavior, recovery effort, or mental health of any one family member. The author takes a systemic and inter-generational view, combining current knowledge of epigenetics with his deep personal experience of working with and being one of the super-sensitive people that experience addiction and inter-generational family system pathology. IT STOPS WITH ME guides readers toward understanding their system, their position in it, and describes specific steps to take to help everyone get well through the mindful pursuit of closeness and clarity following a core practice: Open Heart, Clear Boundaries. Most books about addiction focus on the addict or the disease. If they do focus on the family, they try to either repair or fix the addict, or marginalize the addict ( get rid of them ), so the family can recover. IT STOPS WITH ME is different. Using Dr. Perlmutter's ground-breaking model of Stress-Induced Impaired Coping (SIIC) readers are shown how to do more than just take care of themselves; they'll be guided to deepen or restore relationships with everyone in the family while pursuing wellness for the system itself. More than 3000 family members have been treated employing the now-proven SIIC model. This has taken place at a handful of national level treatment centers and in Perlmutter's consulting rooms. Perlmutter invites family members to understand their biologically-derived attachment and reactivity styles in order to move toward one another, deepen empathy and understanding, and create connection -- the book's driving theme. IT STOPS WITH ME illuminates the environmental, emotional, and behavioral characteristics of these wounded family systems, often inaccurately branded as dysfunctional. As the author illustrates, far from dysfunctional, these wounded systems function quite well to: keep their terrible secrets buried, hold members in rigid roles, suppress difficult emotions (or delegate certain members to express them) get rid of anxiety and uncertainty; and, most importantly, make tolerable the often-fraught experience of life in the family environment. Believing that one's family is not so much dysfunctional as seeking to make tolerable a chaotic, cold, or unpredictable family environment, makes it possible to move toward one another, improve self-care, support the recovery effort for all members, and choose new ways of thinking and interacting. IT STOPS WITH ME puts into words the brutal and often relentless experience of those close to someone who has required intensive treatment for addiction and mental illness. Descriptions of family members being simultaneously powerless and determined to fix things are vivid and relatable. As they read along they will say Yes, that's how I feel, or yes, that's what happens to me [when my loved one acts out]. Readers caught in the grip of family system madness, propelled by the addiction or mental illness of a loved one, will recognize themselves. IT STOPS WITH ME serves as a gentle companion for family members caught in systemic distress and provides them specific strategies with scripted examples to obtain relief and serenity, regardless of what their problematic loved ones may or may not be doing. And further, it shows how to stay in relationship with the problematic loved one, opening the door to recovery for the entire family. By examining, understanding and healing the system using the SIIC model and its specific guidelines, family members will find their authentic voice, interrupt the cycles of loss, and create the conditions under which their loved ones make a project out of their lives and their recovery. This book shows them how.