This week I interviewed Gloria Sandford, a bright, intuitive and warm-hearted therapist specializing in addictions and co-dependency.
If you are a therapist interested in learning more about community treatment of addictions within the scope of mental health, Gloria and I will be co facilitating “Becoming Twelve Step Savvy for Therapists” in the spring.
What do you see as the intersections as well as the separations between addictions andmental health issues?
Addictions are a mental health issue. Within addictions brain chemistry, thought patterns, behavioral patterns and family dynamics each play a role as in other mental health disorders. Although overlap occurs, when viewed as a whole, addictions have a unique formation of symptoms requiring a unique response in treatment.
What do you wish the public knew about addictions?
Compassion 1st, Boundaries 2nd, Judgment Never. Nothing happens in recovery work without compassion. Boundaries come immediately after. Addictions are a boundary-less disease/situation/form. And without boundaries, treatment, friends and family will become overpowered and ineffective.
What boundaries do you recommend for family members of addicts?
Find out what really hits you as “not okay” and set boundary for yourself, for what will work for you. Not what they need to do, but what you need to do. Eventually, our boundaries will lead us to healthier boundaries, but at first we will cave, so it has to come from inside: where am I presently? What needs to be okay to me?
What advice would you give to someone who has a loved one that they suspect is addicted?
Communicate! Communicate your concerns with unemotional language and without judgment and you’ll have the best chance of being heard.
What would you say to someone who says, “I tried a 12 step meeting once and it was boring/stupid/etc…”?
That is normal. It takes most people a number of tries to find a fit in 12-Step. Why? Because the big “D” of denial takes some time to conquer.
Recovery takes time and there is no perfect way to achieve it. There are no formulas only paths unique to each individual. It is a journey toward health and one that I feel very privileged to walk along side.