The Importance of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
How Addiction Affects The Family
For someone living with substance use disorders, it is common to have a conception that drug and alcohol addiction only has an impact on their own life. While there are significant impacts within the addicted person’s life that often have negative consequences within each facet of your life, it is hard when you are in the thick of your alcohol and drug addiction to consider the impacts that your substance use disorders are having on your family unit.
The truth is alcohol and drug addiction impact not only the person abusing substances but the entire family. Watching a loved one engage in harmful, addictive behaviors weighs heavy on a family member’s emotional, physical, and mental health.
Oftentimes, what was once a loving, supportive familial relationship that was built on a foundation of trust and respect becomes strained due to the actions of family members in active drug or alcohol addiction. As someone becomes entrenched in their substance use disorders, the behaviors and actions that they take to fuel their alcohol or drug addiction become dishonest and out of character for that person as the main focus is obtaining and maintaining their drug or alcohol addiction. Individuals will engage in risk-taking behavior such as stealing or other criminal behaviors to obtain money to support alcohol or drug abuse, lying or hiding your substance abuse or putting yourself or your family unit at risk by engaging with drug dealers or other high risk individuals that enable your drug or alcohol addiction.
A child of an addicted parent has been statistically proven to have an increased risk of developing substance use disorders in their adulthood. This is often due to having a childhood where the addicted parent is living a turbulent lifestyle of addiction where it is 3 times more likely that the children of addicted parents will experience forms of child physical or sexual abuse and neglect. Children are at a higher risk of displaying aggressive or violent behavior as a result of these behaviors from their parents.
If parents are living with children that are substance abusing, it can create feelings of shame or guilt as they feel as though their child’s substance abuse is a result of their parenting or behaviors. As they watch their children in the trenches of their substance use disorders, many are left with an intense level of worry and concern for their child’s health and wellbeing. As a parent, you will go to any lengths to support your child who often leads parents to attempt to find ways to support their children at any lengths including supporting them financially which leads to enabling behaviors that end up exacerbating the severity of the individual’s alcohol or drug addiction.
How Family Dynamics Can Impact Addiction
Every family unit has its own unique dynamics between family members. These dynamics are often shaped by the history of family relationships, conflict, and traumas that have influenced a person’s overall well-being and ability to cope.
Families that have experienced a history of traumatic events such as households that had conflict or constant arguing will often perpetuate feelings of distrust and an inability to have healthy relationships with strong, effective communication skills with one another. There are others that may experience discord in relationships including divorce or separation which can lead to children being brought up by single parents or having absent parental figures. This can impact a person’s ability to have a sense of security within the family unit and it often plays a significant role in a person’s history of trauma that leads to substance abuse. No matter what the specific trauma is within the family unit, it is important for each person to have an opportunity to process the emotional, physical, and mental health impacts that it has had on their development and alcohol or drug addiction.
— Resurgence Behavioral Health (@RBHRecovery) December 14, 2022
It is common for family members that have not experienced drug or alcohol addiction within their own life to truly understand the nature of addiction. While their intentions of supporting their loved ones through the addiction treatment process, without having the proper knowledge and education about how addiction affects their addicted loved ones, their ability to know how to properly support their loved ones become hindered. An important component of family therapy is to provide the families affected by drug or alcohol addiction with the knowledge about how addiction impacts behavior changes within a person and their ability to function each day, emotionally respond appropriately, and have healthy relationships with others.
What Is Family Therapy For Addiction Like?
Family therapy provides a family unit with the opportunity to have open communication about the impacts that substance use disorders have had within your family. These family programs are facilitated by a family therapist that will use various forms of evidence-based therapy methods to help facilitate conversations that will promote healing and overcome transgenerational patterns and facilitate growth within the family unit
Within family therapy, it is recognized that addiction is a family disease and impacts each member in its own unique way. That is why each family member will have the opportunity to share their emotions and experiences throughout the treatment process. This allows for the substance-abusing person to gain an understanding of the ripple effects of their alcohol or drug addiction. The first step in family treatments and recovery is allowing space for each individual person within the family unit to openly discuss the traumas and emotional pains of the past to be able to begin the road to recovery and developing new healthy forms of relationships with their loved ones
Family therapy will focus on improving communication among the family members as this is often the first thing to dissipate in the height of a drug or alcohol addiction. Effective communication within family systems also focuses on learning how to set appropriate boundaries and expectations with one another in order to avoid enabling behaviors.
Through addiction treatment methods of behavioral therapy, dual diagnosis treatment, and biofeedback therapy, families are able to identify how addiction affects family dynamics and creates triggers or emotional responses within the family systems. Once these triggers and emotional responses are identified, families are able to establish appropriate family behavior that will support one another in having effective communication and healthy relationships with one another.
The different types of family therapies will often focus on supporting the family unit to address the following concerns:
- Financial Concerns
- Conflicts in the family systems
- Health concerns
- Mental health concerns
- Parenting issues
- Marital problems
- LGBTQ issues
- Substance use disorders
- Drug or alcohol addiction stigmas
When is The Best Time to Start Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment?
When you and your family have been experiencing the trials and tribulations of substance use disorders within your family systems, you undoubtedly want to do whatever you can to begin healing the family unit through addiction treatment and different types of family therapies. It is important to first ensure that your loved ones living with an alcohol or drug addiction are prepared to address their addiction within a treatment process first. Once they have begun their addiction treatments and recovery programs and begin to address their personal history with substance abuse, they will be ready to begin the family treatment process. The family treatment process can last throughout the loved ones’ addiction recovery process to allow for enough time to fully heal from the impacts of substance abuse and, as a family, get on the road to recovery.
Family Therapy at Resurgence Behavioral Health
At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we recognize the effect on substance abuse families. Alcohol and drug addiction is not a solitary disease, it is a family disease that needs to be treated with the utmost care and respect throughout the addiction recovery process. We are dedicated to providing support to family systems by helping to heal from the emotional pains and traumas of the past to help facilitate behavior changes for the future in sober living. We value the voice of each family member and want to ensure that your experiences with an addicted loved one is heard, validated, and voiced as this is a crucial step in healing the family dynamic to ensure that the family behavior becomes supportive, loving, and, most importantly, free of substance abuse.
Contact our recovery center today to speak with one of our compassionate counselors about the impacts that addiction has had on you and your family and get on the road to recovery and happiness with the support of our addiction treatment programs.