By Richard L. Gaw
For every ten phone calls Janet Barkowsky receives at her Ce'Ja Counseling Service from parents seeking counseling and treatment for their teenager's heroin addiction, eight never show up to begin the road to recovery.
Barkowsky, who is a licensed and certified professional counselor and has been counseling individuals and families since 1976, said that in too many families, there is a tendency for parents to not take ownership of their child's addiction. The numbers, however, tell the tale: Barkowsky said 50 percent of all addictions are genetic in nature.
"Too many parents refuse to accept the addiction from the standpoint of a whole family unit, that it's a family disease," Barkowsky said. "In my opinion, to treat someone underage without family present is ludicrous, but a lot would rather look at the teenager and say, 'You're the problem and I'm not,' rather than come in with the idea of having the entire family healed. When it comes to these parents, it's more important to look good than to save a life."
Parents need to become interventionists, Barkowsky advised, and said that the educational programs her service provides to treat heroin addiction are targeted to the entire family, as are many programs offered by organizations like Al-Anon, Teen-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous.
"When you love someone, how do you get them to experience the pain?" Barkowsky said. "And yet, during these difficult times, a parent needs to be both nurturing and strong. To help someone recover from drug addiction is often a long haul, but it's the best treatment overall."
Barkowsky's Ce'Ja Counseling Services has offices in in Oxford and Honey Brook.