The family (actually, the 17 year-old’s mother) that told their story at the Underage Drinking Town Hall meeting the other night gave out a copy of a “framework” that was used as part of rehab/therapy that they had gone through (unfortunately not a good enough copy to get the reference) and discussed it briefly. It was apparent that the family found it quite useful, so I thought I’d share it as well.
The “framework” compares the development of addiction with courtship and marriage. The first stage in the “courtship” is attraction/experimentation. It is flirtatious, concentrating superficially, thrilling with the risk. The next stage is dating/regular use. This is characterized by increasing familiarity (use), increasing influence in one’s life, experiencing pleasurable aspects. The third phase is going steady/abuse with increasing “connection”, thoughts occupied with the “other” when not together (using), obvious effects, and “everyone knows” (although the parents are usually the last to know). The fourth phase is marriage/addiction. This stage puts “the other” as the main life priority with lifelong commitment. By this stage, it is quite difficult to “break up”. When you develop/see problems at this point you either divorce (die from addiction) or fix your life, with addiction that will entail treatment and a life-long commitment to recovery.