Ep 47: The Family Journey of Addiction Recovery with Christopher Crawford

Going into 2020, one in seven adults in the United States experienced a substance use disorder. As of June 2020, the CDC said that 13 percent of adults reported an increase in their use of substances to cope with the stress of the pandemic, with this statistic accompanied by a tremendous increase in overdose deaths. As a result, we feel it is important to dive into the difficult topic of substance use disorders and their impact, not only on the individual but also on the family system, and examine what the recovery process looks like from both perspectives as well. To help us do this is local counsellor, Christopher Crawford, who has over 20 years’ therapeutic experience working with adolescents, young adults, and adults with mental health and substance abuse issues. In this episode, Chris addresses the shame and blame cycle that families experience and how to navigate through it, some of the tools he uses to help families and individuals impacted by addiction, and the importance of setting boundaries and constant communication. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for recovery, which is why this is an important conversation for both families and individuals struggling with addiction. Tune in today to learn more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to Chris and his experience as a licensed chemical dependency counsellor.
  • What Chris wants individuals suffering from substance use disorders to understand.
  • The shame and denial that individuals struggling with addiction often feel.
  • Why it can be so difficult to navigate out of a ‘shame and blame’ cycle.
  • The relationship between dysfunction and disorder and the internal conflict it creates.
  • Why change can feel threatening and how Chris aids families through those changes.
  • Some of the tools Chris uses to help families and individuals impacted by addiction.
  • Understanding that the substance is just a symptom of a much larger issue.
  • Chris shares some example to illustrate the importance of setting boundaries.
  • When it might be necessary for your counsellor to set boundaries for you.
  • Find out why Chris makes it clear to his clients that he can’t treat them while they are under the influence of substances.
  • What he looks for in a treatment center: accountability, structure, and collaboration.
  • Chris explains the process of entering treatment at an in-patient facility and emphasizes the importance of continuity of care.
  • Some of the options available to you when it comes to insurance cover.
  • Common emotions that family members experience while an addict is in treatment.
  • What recovery looks like after leaving a treatment facility, from support meetings to professional mental health guidance.
  • The value of replacing unhealthy habits with healthy ones, like exercise.
  • How families can participate in the journey of recovery, including family support meetings.
  • Why Chris advocates for keeping the family together in the recovery journey.
  • Chris shares a story of hope about two of his clients, Justin and Zach.
  • A final reminder from Chris that there is a solution, there is hope, and you are not alone.


“What you will see is that the dysfunction starts long before the [substance] use starts. They start developing a pattern of behaviors and then that, in itself, creates an extreme internal conflict within the family system and the person affected with the disorder.” — Christopher Crawford [0:06:53]

“Once you remove the substance, the alcohol or the drug is just a symptom of a much bigger problem. We’ve got to identify what that bigger problem is.” — Christopher Crawford [0:17:05]

“I’m looking for a [treatment center] that is going to collaborate with me. I think that is important. I have information that they may not get on the front end.” — Christopher Crawford [0:30:16]

“We don’t want [recovery] to completely consume you – we want to make sure you have all these things in balance. AA is going to be a part of it, work is going to be a part of it, [family], church, all of those things that are in your life system.” — Christopher Crawford [0:46:28]

“There is a meeting that they can go to together that is not solely about the alcoholic and it’s not solely about the person in a relationship with an alcoholic – [it’s about] both.” — Christopher Crawford [0:50:23]

“I’m not going to run out there and tell every single person that I’m in recovery. Not everybody needs to know that information, but the more people that I let know, the better it is for the community to know that there [are] all kinds of people of there in recovery.” — Christopher Crawford [0:59:55]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Christopher Crawford Email

Christopher Crawford on Psychology Today

Life Spring Behavioral Health

Alcoholics Anonymous

Mosaics of Mercy Resources


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