An Open Letter to Greg Williams:

You are Not Alone.

This letter is written in response to the letter Facing Addiction Co-Founder Greg Williams wrote that appeared in the Guardian two days ago.
(See link below to read Greg’s letter)

Dear Greg,

I read your open letter in the Guardian this morning titled “I am in Opioid Recovery. People Like Me Shouldn’t Be So Alone”

And I completely agree. Short stints in detox, treatment, recovery residence, and aftercare are NOT enough AND most people do not even receive all of that. Our community is looking to change that and I wanted to let you know about our plan.

We at Family Recovery Resources so greatly appreciate the advocacy you, Facing Addiction and the many organizations you represent bring to the reduction of stigma in this world. AND I could not agree with you more that attention to the work that families can do to help their loved ones both before and after recovery needs to be addressed and spread all over the world AND that just as importantly, we must help people who are sober sustain their hard won sobriety so that it can become a lifelong win!

I also want to take this moment to share how much your movie Anonymous People has meant to our BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) community of coaches and family members that I lead and am a part of. We invite all of our families to watch that movie and also Generation Found. We visited Archway Academy Recovery High School earlier this year during our Practicum Week. We all greatly admire and respect the work you and they are doing.

At this time, I’d like to talk with you about my own story and the role my growing community of families and Life Coaches are taking on this path.

For the past 34 years, I have been in family recovery and have walked hand in hand with a spouse who is in his second stint of long term recovery. We had to fight for every bit of his help – less so the second time since he had been a long term Substance Abuse Treatment Center Counselor and Director during his prior 18 years in recovery. They saw themselves in him I think and their wives and spouses in me.

Seven years ago, when Alan had 2 years clean and sober again and I was at a turning point in my new career as a Life Coach after 24 years as a teacher and K-12 administrator, I had a decision to make about how to serve next. Many people around me thought I would be a fabulous Educational Leadership Coach. But I knew I had another calling and it involved recovery.

I found my purpose along with becoming a life coach and discovered that I had two possible missions to pursue:

  1. Making life purpose a given on the recovery path
  2. Helping all families blaze the trail to recovery in their homes.

 

Both were designed to help end relapse.

The first one meant a career of working directly with recovering persons as they moved forward in their lives. The second involved helping families get their lives back while learning how to help their loved ones get and stay sober. When I discussed the options with my husband, a treatment professional and person in recovery, he looked me in the eye and asked me to choose families.

“Bev, it’s the missing puzzle piece. Nobody is helping families do what you have done to help me. You must teach this to people and get it out into the world. It will save countless lives.”

At that time, in 2010, I knew that what I had uncovered in old Al-anon books and the scant research on the family in the mid 1980’s  had been bolstered by additional research on the importance of the family in a loved one’s recovery. And so, with my husband’s wise counsel and our experience as my guide, the course of my work and our soon to be  company was set for the next six years.

And the rest is both history and prologue:

History because I listened and began the work with families that has turned into an international online family recovery program that includes

  • a one year comprehensive family recovery education program licensed by treatment centers and used by families all over the world, offered online everywhere and increasingly offered in person in the cities and towns of the US and England
  • The BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Institute, the first Family Recovery Life Coach Training Program to be fully accredited by the International Coach Federation
  • a growing network of well trained Life Coaches working with families to be their loved one’s BEST chance at recovery worldwide.

 

Prologue because there is still so much more to do for both families and their struggling and recovering loved ones and we are taking on this work wholeheartedly. By now, with the above programs well established, we are being joined by advocates who share our vision and get it that we must both keep people alive and also must help their families get educated in how to help their loved ones achieve and sustain long term recovery.

But my old dream of helping people in recovery find their life purpose just wouldn’t die. It has been niggling at me all these years. Over the past two years, our wonderful BALM® coaches have begun to report that when they began BALM® Coach Training (many with 10-35 years of recovery behind them) they came in for a career and ended up with a total inner transformation of their lives, careers, and recovery. Many serious Life Coach Training Program grads report that life coach training was transformative for them. So i asked our grads what exactly was so transformative. Again and again, these strong folks in long term recovery said, “It was the BALM®.”

Truly, I was stunned. These are largely people with long years of recovery. What was it that hit them so hard that it changed their lives so fully when many of them already had the 12 steps?

When we talked, they emphasized things like:

  • The non-judgmental and openhearted approach of the Be A Loving Mirror® method
  • The BALM’s attitude of treating every loved one with dignity, love, and respect, regardless of their presenting behaviors
  • An increase in emotional intelligence among practitioners
  • The emphasis on mindfulness bringing them powerfully into the present moment
  • The communication skills of the BALM® conversation completely changing their relationships with family, friends, clients, and coworkers
  • The BALM® community coaches and families always there to give and get support

 

A few years ago, I interviewed Harvard’s Dr. John Kelly, leading recovery researcher. When I asked him if he agreed with us that families can be their loved one’s BEST chance at recovery, his answer stuck with me and explains some of what we are seeing and where we need to go. “Yes,” he said, “That and mutual peer support.”

In fact, one of our coaches recently submitted a testimonial in which she said the BALM® helped her be her son’s BEST chance at recovery and saved her from a relapse as well…

As a result of these outcomes for our coaches and the constant requests from families to include their loved ones in the BALM®, we are beginning two programs for individuals in recovery that I believe provide part of the puzzle piece that you, Greg, are calling for in your letter: long term help for people in recovery, to help them move forward with greater confidence and purpose.

Our offerings for individual recovery are:

  • A full one year online Recovery Education program which will launch in early 2018 for people at different stages of their recovery. This program, like the Family Recovery program before it, will include 3 components:, Information, Transformation, Support, meaning we will have:
    • Information – 12 BALM® Recovery Principles lessons geared toward the person in recovery, experts in the field and in their own recovery and family recovery, available live and on recordings,
    • Transformation – a communications course (this one geared toward people in recovery) which we consider the pearl of our program: The 7 Steps to Be A Loving Mirror® to Yourself and Others – an offering that includes mindfulness, attention to the development of emotional awareness, and our BALM® conversation method which is designed to help participants learn to communicate with themselves and those around them honestly, peacefully, lovingly, and effectively.
    • Support – online coaching groups, Journal to BALM® Recovery workshops, and one-on-one coaching by BALM® Certified Coaches who are trained to work with people in recovery to help clients move to the next stage of their life in recovery.
  • Our Life Purpose in Recovery™ Program, which is a True Purpose® course based on Tim Kelley’s work. Our program is specifically designed to help people in recovery discover and live their lives based purposefully using True Purpose® and recovery tools to do so.

 

We stand ready to continue to do the important work of not only advocating against stigma, but also doing the day to day work of helping each and every family member help their active user and each and every person in recovery to sustain and expand their recovery.

Let’s partner. Let’s make a difference in this world together.

Bev Buncher, MA, PCC, CTPC, author of the forthcoming book  BALM®: The Loving Path to Family Recovery is the founder and CEO of Family Recovery Resources and The BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Institute for BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach Training, BALM® Family Recovery LIfe Coaching, and BALM® Comprehensive Family Recovery Education. Families and loved ones in need of help can contact us at familyrecoveryresources.com

If you would like to read Greg’s original letter, here it is:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/04/opioid-recovery-alone-chronic-illness

If you would like more information about the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror) Comprehensive Family Recovery Education Program CLICK HERE.