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Rhizome Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment Network description (2)

Rhizome Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment Network description (2)

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Published by: christopherkinman on Feb 10, 2011
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202 E. Main Street 304 York StreetWestminster, Md. 21157 Gettysburg, Pa. 17325(410) 876-3030 (410) 596-4917
The Rhizome Substance Abuse& Addiction Treatment Network 
DescriptionThe Rhizome Substance Abuse & Addiction Treatment Network is a uniqueintervention and treatment approach to working with adolescents, adults and families whoare afflicted by substance abuse and addictions. In the addictions field there has been atradition of working with substance abusers and addicts in both community outpatientand residential rehabilitation centers through individual and group therapy and a twelvestep approach emphasizing participation in self-help groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous). This approach dominates the field of addictions and may be of great value to many facing the long term challenges of addiction but may be limiting interms of intervention options.I have been working in the fields of addictions, mental health and family therapy for 37 years and have observed that many adults referred for addiction treatment reject thetwelve step approach; in research 50 per cent or more who are fortunate to recover do sowithout participation in self-help and nearly all adolescent addicts reject the twelve stepmodel. Another striking factor has been that despite the literature that indicates addictionis a “family disease” there is little or no true family treatment offered in communityoutpatient drug and alcohol clinics or residential rehabilitation programs. Instead, familyeducation, relapse prevention and workshops are offered to parents. Although of somevalue education alone has been shown to not be effective in changing patterns of substance abuse and addictive behavior. The main reason for this I believe that in manyfamilies of addicts dysfunctional patterns of family behavior, such as enabling,overprotection and rescuing behaviors on the part of family members inhibit possibilitiesfor change. Along with the addict families become imprisoned and victimized by thesubstance and often inadvertently maintain addictive behaviors by not holding the addictresponsible or accountable for their behavior. Addicts are notorious for organizing lovedones and significant others around their illness in such a way they are protected from theeffects of addiction. Many families have considerable difficulty escaping from theserealities and spend countless frustrating years sending their addictive loved one toinpatient and outpatient centers in an often fruitless effort to be “cured” of their addiction.The families are rarely if ever told they could directly influence the course of theaddictive process by intimate involvement in the treatment process and taking action tosupport and challenge the addict to give up the substance.In creating the Rhizome Substance Abuse and Addiction Treatment Network process Iam attempting to add another dimension to the treatment of addiction. The central1
feature of this process is to identify and activate the social network of the substanceabuser/addict who functions as “treatment agents” in supporting and challenging theaddict to change their behavior. I assist the addict and family in developing a socialnetwork team that can include the addict, parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts,cousins and natural supports such as pastors/ministers, friends, neighbors, peers,teachers/educators, community involved agencies such as juvenile and adult probationand significant others as identified by the addict and their family. This team meets on aregular basis, usually once weekly with me to develop an assessment, intervention andtreatment plan for the addict. Network meetings are held in home on a regular basis toimplement the plan as designed by the team and can be supplemented by individualsessions with the addict. The social network team is charged with the responsibility for developing rules, guidelines and expectations for the addicts’ behavior. Some of theseexpectations may include but not be limited to work, spending money and managingfinances, attending self-help groups, diet, nutrition and exercise, peer interaction,restrictions on where they are allowed to go, attendance at network meetings and so forth.In addition the network is responsible for taking random and on demand drug screens inconsultation with the family therapist. The addict is directly accountable to the socialnetwork and is given considerable support and challenge as needed. For example, if theaddict violates rules and expectations or uses alcohol/drugs the network will develop andimplement meaningful consequences for such behavior. The overall goal of socialnetwork intervention is to motivate the addict to give up substance use and to assist in thelong term process of remaining substance free (recovery).Advantages of the Rhizome approach
The family and natural support social network are imminently more capable of supporting and challenging the addict than the professional community in that theaddict will likely respond over time more positively for those who love, care andknow them best
The social network approach lends itself to more sustainable outcomes in that participants are likely to be involved with the addict in the long term
The addict benefits from being held accountable by the social network for following rules, guidelines and expectations as set forth rather than by referralagencies, courts or treatment professionals
Enablers who are organized and victimized by the addiction can be influenced tomove from a protective and rescuing position to one of change and treatmentagent.
Collaboration between families of addicts, natural supports and family therapistsworking together provide a more optimistic context for recovery and problemresolution. Families involved in this process consistently report that beinginvolved has positive effects in that they are contributing to turning around the problem
The substance abuser/addict has a direct opportunity to make amends and re-build bridges with loved ones and significant others he/she has hurt or offended bysubstance abusing or addictive behavior. The re-building of relationships isessential for healing.2

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