In an inspirational, high-energy talk to open the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD), the national director of children’s programs at the Betty Ford Center said it is time to see research on how parents’ recovery affects their children’s ability to avoid addiction, or their children’s own recovery capacity if they repeat the generational cycle.
“I want to see a study on recovery and how it affects families, not more on how kids are affected by addiction,” said the Betty Ford Center’s Jerry Moe.
Moe used moving anecdotes to describe the skill building work the California center does with children affected by addiction and their parents. He calls this process “discovery” rather than recovery for the children, since for many they never have been exposed to thoughts such as the family’s addiction not being their fault.
To describe how difficult the family work can be, Moe related the story of a mother who brought her 9-year-old to family treatment even though she had gotten sober before he was even born.
The woman still carried intense guilt over the possibility that her son would think that “I love going to meetings more than [I love] him.”
Moe said clinicians who work with children provide validation, and are akin to farmers who need to continue to look for fertile spots to throw their seeds. He added, “Kids don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care.”