ERP 165: How To Manage Substance Abuse Issues And Recovery In Relationship. with Dr. Navarra

GUEST: DR. ROBERT NAVARRA Dr. Navarra, Certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer has co-authored book chapters with Drs. John and Julie Gottman. Recently he published an article on systemic approaches in addiction treatment and co-authored three articles on Gottman Therapy with Dr. John Gottman for the Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. Dr. Navarra created “Roadmap for the Journey: A Gottman Workshop for Couples in Addiction Recovery”, and “Couples and Addiction Recovery: A Gottman Approach for Therapists, Counselors, and Addiction Professionals”. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories, and examples.) LISTEN TO THE EPISODE TO LEARN ABOUT: What determines a substance use problem? There is a difference between frequent substance use and substance abuse. There is a continuum of use from “non-problematic” to “heavy use” to “use disorder” to “addiction”. To learn more you can access the safe drinking guidelines. A note about alcohol and stress: People often will use alcohol to reduce stress. However, alcohol increases and reinforces the stress system in the brain. This type of use becomes cyclical because a person feels stressed and has a drink to alleviate the stress and then experiences more stress. Is alcoholism a disease? While most people who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder will not meet the criteria again in four years. Whereas other people with continued and consistent use will experience significant changes in their brain structure which will constitute an addiction and a disease. What happens if one person is using or drinking and it is an issue in the relationship? Get information and education about the guidelines of substance use. Have a conversation. Invite your partner to talk with you. Bring up the topic of concern with your partner in a non-blaming way. Here is what my concerns are… Here is what it means to me… See about coming to some agreements together. The person using may be willing to modify their use. If they are not willing to modify their use, then it might be important to explore why they are not willing to modify their use. Look at risk factors (i.e. family history of substance abuse issues, use over time, increased use, daily use, etc.) In the first year of recovery, what should a couple be aware of together? Relapse rates are the highest in the first year, especially in the first 3 months. Continued support from loved ones and family members is one of the highest predictors for success. Having a substance-free home environment is critical for the recovery process. People in recovery often feel an involuntary thrust towards using. Their brain has been hijacked by the disease, and they do not have the normal stop-go mechanisms in their brain. People in recovery have strong emotional memories and triggers. “Relationships need attention in this transition (into recovery). Let’s not abandon couples when they need it the most.” Dr. Navarra What promotes healing in the relationship? Relationship-care and self-care can help the person in recovery manage the disease better. Acknowledge the stigma and shame. Get support, so that you can engage in healing and constructive conversations. Discuss these questions in a non-blaming way: What has the impact of addiction been on you? And the relationship? What is the impact of recovery been on you? And the relationship? See the addiction as an intruder on your relationship. How has the uninvited guest impacted you, your partner and your relationship? Attend Dr. Navarra’s workshop “Roadmap For The Journey” to have H.E.A.R.T (Healing Emotions Addiction Recovery Trauma) conversations to heal addiction trauma. When couples can emotionally attune and the listen to the painful emotions of one another, then begin to build trust together. MENTIONED: Couples Recovery Empowerment (website) Dr. Robert Navarra (website) Roadmap For The Journey (workshop page) Couples Recovery (Facebook page) The Addictions Institute (website) UC Santa Cruz – advanced drug a alcohol training program Addictionologist – a doctor who studies and treats addiction.   TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you! ❤ If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.

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