Caring for our clients and caring about them

As clinical director of Tabor Group Addiction Treatment Services I sometimes wonder about the difference between caring for our clients and caring about them. Is there any? What is the difference? Are the two terms used interchangeably? Without too much difficulty I realise the difference is pronounced.

Caring for someone is usually conveyed through behaviours. What you do for the person shows you care for them. So how we configure our treatment services shows we are equipped to care for addicted people and for their families. Our governance structures in Tabor Group assure the quality of this care for clients and also address how to improve the quality of the care. The care for addicted people and their family can be measured and monitored and improved. There is evidence to show we care for them.

Caring for clients extends beyond behaviours. It can manifest in attitudes towards addicted people that are visible in how care is delivered.

Caring about our clients is different. To care about the client is conveyed relationally. It brings into focus the unique individual that this addicted person is. Tabor Group caring about addicted people is conveyed through an individual expressing to another individual ‘I care about you’. As the person becomes honest about how addiction has caused harm to themselves and their loved ones and the guilt and shame that have resulted the treatment agency remains steadfast in their care about this individual. To care about them is like throwing your care around them or about them and wrapping them in your care. It shows understanding about addiction and the way it drives people to dark and desperate states. It shows compassion for the individual who has failed to manage this drive so far.

While there are many clients whose family do still care about the addicted person, it is striking that a number of clients attend for treatment at Tabor Group and it is quite clear that there is nobody left in their life that cares about them. Given the circumstances that go with untreated addiction it is totally understandable that loved ones stop caring about the addicted person. The family are frazzled. The demands placed on them to continue to care are excessive.

It is also worth pointing out that many addicted people use the substances of addiction to feel cared about. Gabor Mate in his book In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts talks about the heroin addict who found heroin use to be “a soft, warm hug”.

We are also discovering that many addicted people are coping with complex trauma originating in circumstances early in life when the primary carer was not in a position to care about the child in the ways the child needed.

So, it seems to me, the difference between caring for addicted people and caring about them is crucial and we are only just beginning to realise how much. Integral to successful intervention in the management of addiction is the readiness of treatment agencies to care about these unique individuals who have the misfortune to become addicted. It also seems to me that this caring about addicted people is noticeably absent in Irish society today but that is a topic for another blog.

Get Help at Tabor Group

If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction. And want to learn more about successfully managing you addiction. We can help you recover in a healthy, friendly environment and successfully beat your addiction.

Don’t hesitate to contact one of our counsellors today for information at +353 (21) 488 7110 or email us at Email Us .We can help you.

Blog written by: Mick Devine, Clinical Director Tabor Group