The Use of a Family Mediator

Sometimes when families are facing urgent crisis situations, such as drug abuse and addiction, emotions may get in the way of effective communication. Someone who is abusing drugs may feel as though nobody in their family or circle of friends could possibly understand what they are feeling and thinking, while those not affected by drug or alcohol addiction may freely admit they can’t understand why someone is choosing to ruin their lives. Addiction is a chronic disease that changes how a person thinks, how they feel and how they react to various situations, up to and including becoming irrational and violent. When tensions run high and communication runs low, the use of a family mediator can help level the playing field.

According to the Hamline University School of Law, family mediators are not only for settling divorce matters. They provide services for families that have decisions to make regarding any matter that may cause contention. They can help the family and the addicted member of the family establish what the problems are, help the family decide how to best address the problems, and come up with solutions to resolve the issues. They can do all of this confidentially without involving the courts, although if needed, the agreements can become part of court orders, particularly when it comes to the custody of any children that may be involved.

Can a Family Mediator Force a Family Member Into Treatment?

The ability to force an individual into drug or alcohol treatment varies from state to state, as reported in an article in Time Magazine. Some states will allow family members to petition the courts, even if the individual suffering from addiction hasn’t committed a crime for which charges have been filed, to force the drug abuser into a program. Other states, such as Ohio, will do so only if the family agrees to pay the entire bill and makes a significant deposit. Still others have no laws that provide for such obligations. In any of these cases, however, the family mediator has no authority or power to commit an adult individual into treatment against their will.

The benefit of the mediator is to provide open lines of communication between everyone involved. The individual who suffers from addiction may feel more confident discussing their condition when they know they will not be verbally or physically attacked by family members whose patience has run thin. Family members of the individual may be more open to listening to concerns and issues when they know that their own concerns will carry equal weight in the conversation.

This open communication may ultimately provide the platform from which the discussion of treatment and recovery can launch more effectively.

Is Mediation an Intervention?

An intervention, as it pertains specifically to drug abuse and addiction, is a planned event where family members attempt to convince their loved one to seek the help they need to stop using harmful drugs. A professional interventionist can help a family plan and carry out this process, and they often act as a mediator during the actual event. A family mediator may or may not be trained in the planning and overseeing of an intervention, however. If you are interested in having a family meeting where the outcome should involve the addicted family member leaving for rehab right away, a professional interventionist may be the best choice. However, if your family is not ready to take that step, for whatever reason, but there are decisions that need to be made immediately, a family mediator may also be a viable option.

A few examples of the types of decisions where the use of a family mediator may be of help are:

  • Creating custody and control documents for the minor children of an addict in the event of overdose, death or incarceration
  • Creating contracts concerning the living arrangements for an individual who refuses to seek help for their addiction, but who insists they will stop using on their own
  • Creating separation or divorce agreements, when one spouse is abusing drugs and the other is not, that hinge upon an individual receiving treatment
  • Protecting assets, such as home ownership, vehicle titles, and other large items so the addicted family member will be unable to sell them to obtain drugs or pay off illicit debt
  • To establish trusts for minor children in an effort to protect household income from use to purchase drugs

Drug addiction can be treated effectively, and there is hope that an individual suffering from addiction can leave the past behind them as they make their way into a healthier future. If you are concerned about the effects that addiction is having on your life, please contact us here at Axis today.

Further Reading