Friday, July 6, 2007

Tough love for addicts: more love, less tough?

I found an interesting podcast today. It’s a discussion with Laurence Westreich, MD, author of the new book Helping the Addict You Love: The New Effective Program for Getting the Addict into Treatment.

Dr. Westreich has all the right credentials. In addition to being a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of patients dually diagnosed with addiction and mental disorders, he is associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and serves as the consultant on drugs of abuse to Major League Baseball.

In his book (and the podcast), he suggests that families “use a combination of creative engagement and constructive coercion to push addicted members into treatment. Threats and ultimatums are less helpful,” he says, “than are multiple and lovingly delivered confrontations that continually push the addicted family member towards obtaining treatment.”

Traditionally, family members have been encouraged to use "tough love" in dealing with an addicted family member. But Dr. Westreich fears that too many families emphasize the "tough" over the "love".

Interesting. Through the years, I’ve thought most parents have found the tough part to be more difficult.

Take a few minutes to listen to the podcast, then tell me what you think. Are families too tough on the addict? Not tough enough? I’d like to know what you’ve observed.

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