Family therapy is a recovery tool used for addiction among psychologists to help identify challenges in the process of helping one come clean. Through research, it’s repeatedly discovered that most family issues contribute to the downfall of addiction and perpetuate the illness. For this reason, addiction is commonly referred to as a “family disease”. Professionals aim to provide support in making positive changes within a household to heal the family dynamic.
Family therapy for addiction has become a popular approach used by mental health care professionals. Historically, It was done independently and often removed the substance abuser from a comfortable setting such as their home. Today, we offer it as residential substance abuse treatment at Behavioral Health Centers.
Research supported by Vertava Health reveals addiction affects the family dynamic as it causes stress, oftentimes brings resentment, airs frustrations, and causes a violation of privacy.
Family Therapy at Work
Family therapy for addiction involves the addict and at least one family member, but this therapy is dynamic and involves all. Therefore, it is appropriate to involve those who are not technically family but friends, coworkers, partners, or significant others. Successful treatment addiction should include all who are a part of the family and are experiencing the effects of the individual’s addiction. Participating in therapy as a family can be the first step in repairing failed relationships.
There are many goals at work in providing family therapy for addiction. Therapy for the family unit:
- Decreases the chance of relapse
- Aids in the development of positive behavioral changes
- Promotes a long-term recovery process as extra support surrounds the struggling individual
- Improves emotional health of abuser and family of the abuser
- Family members can instill trust within the abuser again
- Resolves conflict and brings peace within the subject of substance abuse
- Encourages negative feelings to dissolve and be replaced with newly refined goals
It’s normal to wonder how family therapy for addiction works. Understanding the process from a mental health professional can be confusing. This is why it is important to comply with certain requests. For instance, after the substance abuser starts treatment, the family receives counseling to uncover family history, recurring communication tactics, and damaging self-care routines. This is important as it factors into the treatment of each individual.
The effects of addiction don’t just affect one, but affects all. Children of alcohol and drug dependent parents often face the most consequences. The children suffer most in school as difficulties arise and they result in skipping school or face being expelled. In some cases, the source for developing a learning disability in children with addicted parents.
The Modern Family Unit, What Makes it Important?
The modern family unit could be a major contributing factor in what makes an individual unsupportive or abuse a substance. The modern family unit includes single-parent families, unmarried cohabiting couples, divorces, blended relationships, LGBTQ relationships, shared childcare, etc. So family therapy for addiction is a popular path in choosing to create a support group for the suffering individual.
How to Tell When Family Therapy for Addiction is Necessary
Identifying when a friend abuses the limit of certain substances might be easy. But how does one know when to seek professional help? Deciding when it’s time to seek professional help could be dependent on a family member’s behavior. For example, families that frequently experience behavioral or emotional problems within their children pose a common reason to visit a psychologist.
It could be time for family therapy if you experience these circumstances:
- You find your response to their substance abuse needs improvement.
- The family member continues to abuse certain substances despite many objections.
- Your mental and physical health is at a breaking point having been negatively impacted by the friend’s abuse.
- Codependent behaviors have become stronger than the need to improve oneself.
- Enabling behaviors are becoming the “easier way out”.
Codependent and enabling behaviors are common among generational families. It was common as many coped with addiction in unhealthy ways before the idea of family therapy for addiction was introduced. Before this method was introduced, many resulted in blaming one another, isolating themselves, or self-medicating. Most lived in denial about addiction and would unwittingly follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. These unhealthy coping mechanisms usually resulted in the destruction of the family unit. One of the main goals of family therapy is to learn better-coping skills.
What to Expect from Family Therapy for Addiction
Family therapy has been successful in more than just addiction and substance use. It has shown positive results in coexisting disorders such as depression, child abuse/neglect, anxiety, etc. Sessions of family therapy aim to help understand the way an internal family system works and helps identify signs of triggers or conflict within a family.
Here’s what one can expect while enrolled in family therapy:
- Family therapy for addiction takes place after the substance abuser has entered treatment and made progress.
- It creates healthier interactions between that of the home environment and others.
- It teaches individuals to communicate more effectively between all parties.
- Family therapy shows that reacting/behaving in exciting ways rather than dismissively can support the client’s recovery rather than hinder it.
- It uses contingency management as a behavioral therapy, which uses motivational rewards to incentivize one to become abstinent from drugs or alcohol.
- Family members can set goals that relate to the roles they play within their family dynamic.
While enrolled in therapy, substance users can expect to go through a detox process. Detox (or detoxification) involves one abstaining from or ridding their body of the toxic or unhealthy substances they usually ingest.
Successful treatment addiction should include family as the emotional stress of addiction often leaves one feeling helpless. Working with a family therapist often relieves the stress of having to deal with something alone. Enrolling in family therapy for addiction will ease the mixture of feeling helpless and lost.
Benefits of Attending Family Therapy for Addiction
Trained mental health professionals work with families to help them:
- Understand that addiction is a disease.
- Repair the emotional damage caused by addiction.
- Re-establish trust among the abuser and others.
- Identify strategies for family success such as assessing communication habits.
- Foster supportive relationships and Improve communication styles.
- Improve the mental and physical state of a family.
- Gain awareness of needs and behaviors.
- Avoid enabling behaviors.
The purpose of family therapy is to bring the family back to their first identified goal: addiction recovery. Therapy sessions are structured and mental health professionals are trained to tend to the needs of each individual family member. Involving family has proven to bring higher rates of success, better engagement instances, and increased aftercare participation. By engaging in Family Treatment for Addiction, a difference will be seen in the addicts and family member’s daily lives’.
When & Why to Participate in Family Counseling
Oftentimes a family member may not want to participate in family therapy, this could be due to:
- The skepticism that counseling will or will not work
- Distrust against the psychologist
- Sheer exhaustion at the effort already put into this
- Power over substance abuser and loss of that power
If this happens, it’s best to have this individual meet with a trained professional and address certain concerns or encourage change. By involving the whole family, they become equipped to integrate recovery principles in their daily lives. Family therapy becomes more than just family education. Therapy involves applying the techniques learned and working through situations where a goal may not play out.
Becoming involved with family therapy allows the family unit to uncover drama hidden below the surface. Many times, substance abuse masks the problems in a family deeper than alcoholism or drug abuse. These problems often rise to the surface once the person seeking treatment finds a solution.
While therapy can seem intimidating, it’s effective in helping the substance user decide which route of treatment to take.
Coping with Addiction; Relapse is Possible
Even while enrolled in family therapy, a large percentage of people relapse while in addiction recovery. This is not because of the treatment option, but what goals were approached by the psychologist and family. Today, relapse is regarded as an opportunity to re-evaluate the recovery plan. It’s a time to determine the negative factor and take the correct steps to develop skills that’ll lead away from relapse.
Oftentimes, it may be difficult to cope with addiction. In situations with children, it can be difficult as they often suffer from PTSD, nightmares, insomnia, or flashbacks. There are further risks for adults in therapy such as:
- One member feels attacked during a session
- Escalation of anger into violence at a family member
- The addict is triggered to continue or increase usage
Figuring how to cope with a substance abuse problem can be difficult as it is a habitual impulse. These habits serve to help one manage their particular situations or levels of stress. Habits can be maladaptive or destructive, but addiction consists of both.
Maladaptive behaviors are seen as the addict displays deliberate actions in which one avoids new situations. Destructive behaviors are any harmful or self-destructive actions that seem deliberate, impulsive, or habitual. Display of these behaviors can be another key factor in determining if you and your family should seek professional help.
To tour or attend a treatment facility at Behavioral Health Centers, visit our contact us page today. Enrolling in Family Therapy for Addiction should ease the feeling of helplessness. At Behavioral Health Centers, our focus lies on your success.