Our June 8 Pathway Session with Brenda Zane was a great success, as attendees learned that talking to your loved one about relapse actually reduces the chances of it happening.
Brenda, a parent coach and host of the popular Hopestream podcast, knows from experience that relapse happens. She discussed the 5+ year journey she had with her son, who relapsed and overdosed many times after first becoming addicted to substances at age 16.
When a loved one relapses, the parent is vulnerable to the “parent relapse”. This is when the mom or dad resorts to old behaviors that are counter-productive. These include blaming, shouting and isolating. Brenda discussed the relapse prevention plan, both for the child–usually done at a treatment program–and one that can be created specifically for parents.
Talking openly about relapse and a relapse prevention plan is extremely helpful. Together, a parent and son/daughter jointly discuss the possibility of relapse as well as “prelapse”. Prelapse refers to the behaviors that mirror those when a loved one was using. Two examples are meeting up with old drug-using friends and changes in sleep habits.
Getting permission in advance is important, in order for a parent to be empowered to take actions when prelapse or relapse behaviors are happenning. These actions could include encouraging the child to call a sponsor or recovery coach, meet with a therapist, or maybe for the parent to call a treatment program.
Brenda discussed the information sandwich, which is a great way to promote healthy conversations with a son or daughter. This technique involves teaching or giving information by “sandwiching” the information between questions that include the basic one of asking for permission to start. Then you can ask, say, a question about the topic, then the information, followed by something like “does this make sense to you?”
What does Brenda do to get perspective and grounding during the roller coaster ride? 1) Goes for walks; 2) meditates using the Insight Timer app; 3) watches what she eats; and 4) connects with others who know what she’s going through (friends, her Stream community of moms). Here is Brenda’s slide deck which includes helpful resources on the last page. In addiction, here is the YouTube Replay of our Zoom Session. Thank you Brenda!