Man gives advice to families on how to tackle addictions

By Christopher Behnan


Richard Kramer (left) witnessed his brother's descent into drug addiction but didn't seek support as a family member for decades.

Kramer spent a fortune trying to track down his brother, who became addicted to psychedelic drugs during the 1960s and vanished without a trace.

Years later, he sought support for his struggles with his brother's addiction; however, in some ways, it was too late: His brother hasn't been seen in about 20 years.

"I wished I had done it at 30. My life would have been so much better. It's a festering, open sore, and I've gotten tremendous support since — (but) could have gotten that support years earlier," said Kramer, who is a staff member at Brighton Hospital, a drug-treatment facility in Brighton Township.

Kramer advises families on how to attack addictions of loved ones early. Initial help can be sought through school or church social workers, local counseling centers and treatment centers, Kramer said.

Another option is an intervention, or gathering friends and family to confront the addict. The goal of an intervention is twofold: Make the addict confront his or her illness, and convince the addict to enter treatment the same day.

Interventions can be done with a professional present, which can be costly, or by family or a friend through a guided process, Kramer said.

The process is 80 percent to 90 percent successful in getting addicts into treatment the same day, Kramer said.

Initial treatment isn't a cure-all, however, which some family members believe at first, he added.

"There may be a little sense of relief, sometimes a false sense of, 'This is going to get fixed during a hospital treatment stay,' when it's a long-term diagnosis and it's a lot of hard work having this young person go to meetings, have a sponsor and take some of that stress off the parents," Kramer said.

The biggest challenge for families is to let loved ones face the consequences of their drug use rather than trying to rescue them from it, Kramer said.

Enabling addiction by coddling users can only "pour gasoline" on addictions, he added.

Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Christopher Behnan at (517) 548-7108 or at

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