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What is Family Substance Abuse Counseling?

Family substance abuse counseling also known as family therapy is therapeutic treatment model for substance abuse addiction that is based on the point of view that a family that heals together heals faster.

Research has shown that substance abuse rarely happens in isolation; it is often a symptom of social factors like family conflict, stress, family history of abuse, parenting style.

Family is a strong unit of influence and the resources of the family unit can be channeled towards faster healing and recovery for substance abuse patients.

Family therapy decreases an individual’s chances of relapse, reduces harmful behavior, and promotes sustained recovery and social functioning.

Why Family Therapy for Substance Addiction

The family may be the smallest unit of society but it is the strongest, most distinct and tightly knitted system of influence.

Very often, what affects one, always affects all.

When one person in a family unit is affected by substance abuse, it may lead to a dysfunctional behavior in other members who are not, leading to an impaired and incoherent unit.

Substance abuse treatment in isolation of the family unit may not be an holistic and sustainable approach especially in teens and young adult.

Percentage of relapse is often higher in treated substance abuse users who have to return to a flawed support system or setting.

The Role of Family in Addiction Treatment

The roles of family members in addiction treatment will vary according to which member of the family is abusing substances. It is important to determine the appropriateness and level of involvement of family members.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the integration of family therapy for substance addiction helps to achieve two main goals;

  • Provide helpful support for the individual in drug treatment. Family therapy decreases an individual’s chances of relapse, aids in the development and maintenance of positive behavioral and attitude changes, and promotes long-term recovery of the individual in substance abuse treatment.
  • Improve the emotional health of the family as a whole. Therapy helps family members establish trust and encourage forgiveness for past behaviors. It also can provide peace and resolve conflict or feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness. Additionally, family therapy extinguishes the sense of ongoing crisis and encourages participants to let go of negative emotions.

Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction

In addiction treatment, genuine conversations, education and conflict resolutions are key tools for effective recovery. The aim is to help not just the substance abuse patients but also to help the families become aware of their own needs and provide genuine, enduring healing for people. Here are a few benefits of family therapy for addiction;

  • Family therapy helps to break down bridges and improve communication between family members.
  • Effective therapy helps everyone to feel safe and be able to voice their feelings and opinions without fear of retribution or rebuke.
  • It helps to identify maladaptive family patterns that could contribute to substance abuse and also set the needed boundaries required.
  • Therapy provides insights, assessment opportunity and education for the family on how best to handle addiction for faster recovery
  • Positive recovery outcomes are higher in an environment of regained trust and shared feelings of anger or betrayal
  • In the course of family therapy, other family members in need of help can also be attended to outside the person in focus

Statistics on the Effectiveness of Family Therapy

Research about the effectiveness of family therapy is ongoing. However, several studies suggest that it may be a useful component of addiction treatment.

One study found that different forms of family therapy can help keep substance abusers and their families in treatment, reduce substance use and other harmful behaviors, and improve social functioning.

Another study found that behavioral couple’s therapy can lead to abstinence, better relationships, reduced occurrence of separation and divorce, and reduced domestic violence.

A study that reviewed advancements in family-based treatment research found that family therapy treatments can be helpful for a variety of adolescent problems, including substance abuse, schizophrenia and conduct disorder.

Types of Family Therapy

There are different therapy styles and formats for adults and children. Specific treatment can also be administered based on the specific needs of the person or the family.

  • Structural Family Therapy
    As the name suggests, it involves understanding the structure, boundaries and interactions within the family and how these in turn affects the individual’s identity outside of personality. This understanding helps to stir the family from dysfunctional attributes towards adaption and restructuring for more positive changes. The therapist may also help the family identify triggers for substance abuse, predict potential problems and develop strategies to avoid them.
  • Strategic Family Therapy
    This targeted towards a more solution-based approach that helps to strategically solve a problem that has been identified in the family. The substance user, the family and the therapist try to come up with ways to help the user stop using drugs including different means of motivation. Rather than focus on the history and evolution of the problem, the therapist focuses on solving the problem through 5 basic stages; Social stage, Problem stage, Interactional stage, Goal-setting stage and Task-setting stage.
  • Transgenerational Therapy
    Also known as the family of origin exploration, this method involves tracing past difficulties, stressful scenarios and painful events and using them to make predictions of future conflicts. Insights are drawn and future inferences or predictions are made from the reactions of previous generation in comparison to the present generation.
  • Psychoeducation
    Pschoeducation is aimed at open conversations within the family, training and self-help support, medication and treatment support, providing a safe place for discussion. This form of therapy empowers both the person in focus and the family support system with the right education needed to function effectively as a family.

The Process for an Effective Family Therapy

Here are a few things that must be established for a an effective family therapy;

  1. There have to be set goals
    There must be defined goals for the entire process and each therapy session. Once communication is initiated as a primary goal, communication must be sustained, motivation maintained and a healthier home environment at the end of the day.
  2. Setting, frequency, and duration
    Once the goals are set, a suitable and convenient setting, duration and frequency must be set for all parties involved. This arrangement s often made by the treatment
  3. Participation from Parties involved
    This often includes but is not limited to a trained neutral therapist, the substance addiction patient and any other close family, friends or acquaintances who may proof instrumental to his or her recovery.
  4. Therapy sessions
    This could be in different locations or even in a group setting where other people and their families are present. The type of therapy employed is usually the decision of the therapist based on the informed evaluation of the type of family, the level of addiction and the situation in question.

Get Addiction Help for the Whole Family at Resurgence Behavioral Health

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we know that addiction affects not only the addicted person but also the entire family unit.

This is why we recommend family therapy for a sustainable and faster recovery.

You do not have to struggle with addiction all by yourself when you can get professional advice and treatment to facilitate your healing process and that of your family.

If you or a family member is in need of a family therapy program for substance abuse, contact us today to learn more about family addiction treatment and recovery.

Helpful Resources for Substance Abuse and Family Therapy