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12 Steps for Successful Parenting for Families
Affected by Addiction

A Reinterpretation of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
from the Breaking the Cycle of Addiction (1987)

By Patricia O’Gorman Ph.D., and Phil Diaz, M.S.W.

Step 1 Admit powerlessness over your ability to protect you children from pain and become willing to surrender to your love and not your control.
Step 2 Find hope in the belief that recovery is possible through faith and an acceptance of the fact that we are never really alone.
Step 3 Reach out for help and acknowledge that you are not alone.
Step 4 Take stock of yourself as a parent.
Step 5 Learn to share your parenting issues with others without self-recrimination.
Step 6 Become ready to change by giving up the demand to be perfect.
Step 7 Make conscious changes in your parenting by identifying specific strategies for healthy parenting.
Step 8 Take responsibility for the effect your parenting has had on your children and learn self-forgiveness.
Step 9 Make amends to your children through healthy parenting without over-compensating.
Step 10 Model being honest with yourself and your children and create acceptance in your family for imperfection.
Step 11 Learn to accept your limits in life and fine your true spiritual path while allowing your children theirs.
Step 12 Reach out to other parents in the spirit of giving and community.

The Lowdown on The Lowdown

The Lowdown on Families Who Get High is an easy-to-use book about a difficult and complex subject — how the break the cycle of addiction in high-risk families. Written from the perspective of the parents/caregivers, in plain and simple language, it takes you into the world of parents/caregivers struggling with addiction — their own, their parents/caregivers, their spouses — and gives you clear guidelines about how to speak to, and work with, these families.  It will also help you address the personal issues that may arise for you as you begin this process.

The Lowdown on Families Who Get High begins and ends with the 12 steps of AA revised for parents/caregivers, and are provided to you at the end of this section.  While not a replacement for the original 12 steps, this 12 approach to successful parenting is a guide for both you and the parents/caregivers you work with.  The 12 steps will assist you in working around some predictable hurdles that occur when one is trying to both to recover from the impact of addiction, and parent, at the same time.  Based on almost 30 years of clinical work, this approach has been found to be helpful to both parents/caregivers and their counselors, as it allows all involved to know that being a parent/caregiver and being in recovery could be a win/win situation.

The Lowdown on Families Who Get High was also written to address the needs of the workers and professionals in Child Welfare and Substance Abuse Field on two levels.  First it is written to help children of addicts, their caregivers and the addicts themselves on a personal level.  The term caregiver has many meanings.  Sometimes the caregiver is a biological parent, sometimes it is a member of the extended family, or a foster parent, and sometimes a professional child care worker, or social worker.

What caregivers have in common is that they all have accepted the responsibility to nurture and safeguard the well being of a child. But when it comes to addiction, in most cases, caregivers have little idea of the needs and issues facing children that have been impacted by addiction and even less how to help parents/caregivers who are addicts.  All too often caregivers are themselves, untreated adult children of addicted families, or families with abuse or neglect issues. Their personal struggle mirrors the concern and struggle now found in the professional community.  New pathways are needed, and new understanding on both a professional and personal level is required, for there to be success in the treatment of parents/caregivers and the children of addicts found within the Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice and Substance Abuse Fields.

Secondly, The Lowdown on Families Who Get High was also written to provide greater professional understanding for those who work with addicted parents/caregivers and their children — child welfare, juvenile justice, and alcohol and drug abuse professionals, who now need to closely collaborate, in some cases, for the first time.  Doing this will require a more thorough understanding of the terms utilized, the ability to identify and access services across systems, and the development of new services. The Lowdown on Families Who Get High has exercises for you to use with your clients as you begin the process of motivating and engaging high-risk families/caregivers who are also challenged by addiction.

For more information on successful parenting for those affected by addiction, read  The Lowdown on Families Who Get High, and  attend one of our seminars.  Or better yet, contact us to conduct a retreat for you.  We look forward to seeing you there.