If you and your family are going through a troubling situation, whether it involves grief, anger, or stress, you can benefit from family therapy. Individual therapy can help you understand how your problems affect you as a person, and group therapy connects you with others who are suffering similar problems. However, family therapy for addiction brings clarity to relationships among all members.

Family therapy for addiction is known to be extremely helpful for families dealing with the effects of substance use disorder. It’s also effective for people dealing with co-occurring mental health disorders in their family members.

What is Family Therapy for Addiction?

family therapy for addiction

Family therapy for addiction involves a therapist, the person abusing substances, and their family members. Your therapist helps you navigate conflicts and challenges as a team. 

This mode of therapy is based on the idea that all families share a connection. When you change one part of the family system, you’ll be able to change the others as well. Families that have healthy relationships within them can play a large role in recovery.

Although family therapy is effective for many types of problems, it’s especially helpful for treating addiction. If you have an issue with substance use, it can strain the bonds you have with your family members. Family therapy for addiction can help you repair these ties with your loved ones, and it can also help them understand your problem. Your therapist will teach you and your family skills on how to cope with your loved one’s addiction.

Whereas individual therapy focuses on issues affecting only you, family therapy for addiction focuses on how these have affected your relationships. One of the goals of this mode of therapy is to validate your family’s experiences with your addiction. Those who practice family therapy believe that problems occur between people rather than within people. 

In family therapy for addiction, your therapist might identify a “fugitive/detective” dynamic, which is common in many families. In this case, the “fugitive” can be a young adult who is lying or hiding things, and the “detective” can be a parent who is chasing or snooping. Your therapist will explain these roles and how they have affected your family as a whole.

In addition to helping deal with addiction, family therapy helps with the following: 

  • Mental illness in a family member
  • Problems in school
  • Arguments about money
  • Divorce/separation
  • Planning for shared custody of children
  • Issues with a child’s behavior
  • Caring for a family member
  • General conflict between family members

The main goal of family therapy for addiction is not to blame any one person for their loved one’s issues. Rather, it’s to improve disagreements within your family.

How Addiction Impacts Families

People with substance use disorder might believe that they’re the only people affected by their illness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease that impacts everyone around you — your friends, coworkers, and especially family. Your actions that fuel your abuse, whether they include sneaking drugs into the house or stealing money to buy drugs, indirectly impact your family. 

The effects of the substances you take make you unaware of the devastation they inflict on the ones you love. Doing drugs can bring your family plenty of legal and financial troubles, affecting their everyday lives.

Addiction also heavily impacts marriages. When you take your vows, you promise to love each other for better or for worse, and you also promise to be open and honest. Drugs and alcohol, unfortunately, can turn you into a different person — someone who lies, cheats and steals. These personality changes can take a toll on your marriage, and if you have children, it can negatively affect them, too.

Addiction and Children

One in 5 children grows up in a home with one or both parents having a substance use disorder. When children see their parents’ behavior while on drugs or drinking, this can be traumatic for them. Studies show that, compared with children with non-addict parents, they’re three times more likely to be abused sexually or physically and neglected. Seeing this behavior can also lead them to become mentally or emotionally unstable.

When parents are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they’re more likely to cause arguments. This can cause great distress in their child. These arguments can also feature aggressive and violent behavior, which is even worse. Witnessing this can make children feel guilty, and even make them blame themselves for their parents’ behavior. When these children get older, their thoughts can drive them to become addicts as well.

How Does Family Therapy for Addiction Work?

Family therapy for addiction is typically short-term, lasting for about 12 sessions. How many sessions you need, though, will depend on the seriousness of your loved one’s addiction and your family’s situation.

During family therapy for addiction, you’ll do the following:

  • Explore different behavior patterns, family roles, and rules to pinpoint problems that could’ve led to addiction and general family conflict
  • Observe your family’s ability to communicate emotions and thoughts and solve problems productively
  • Recognize each family member’s weaknesses (difficulty confiding in each other) and strengths (caring for each other)

The counselor leading your sessions will address conflicts you’ve had with your struggling family member. From this, you’ll learn how to cope with their substance use and how to better help them in recovery. 

Your First Family Therapy Session

family therapy for addiction

It’s helpful to know what to expect before you go to family therapy for the first time. Family therapy for addiction will typically begin just a few weeks after you’ve entered substance abuse treatment. Each session will last from 50 minutes to an hour. 

Your therapist will start by asking you and your family questions to understand your situation. These can cover when the substance abuse began, how your family dealt with it, and how they view your issues. Afterward, your counselor will work out goals and a treatment plan for you and your family. 

Family therapy for addiction and mental health disorders won’t make all your problems disappear. However, it will provide you with tools to cope with family conflict and help you understand each other better. You’re also likely to feel much closer to one another after you’ve completed your sessions.

Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction

Studies show that family therapy for addiction can have a positive impact on you and your loved ones. 

While you’re in family therapy, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your family member’s addiction. You’ll understand how substance abuse treatment works, you’ll know what to expect once it’s finished. Family therapy can also alleviate any concerns or feelings you have about the problem, like stress, grief, or anger.

Family therapy gives you a chance to address any mental health disorders in your sister, mother, brother, or husband. By knowing this, you can improve communication within your family and therefore prevent relapse. You can also help keep your family member motivated and engaged while they’re in treatment. 

You’ll also notice an improvement in your family’s communication skills. You will feel more comfortable asking questions about your family member’s addiction, and you’ll be able to calmly voice your concerns and feelings on it. With your newly learned strategies and skills, you can support your loved one on the road to recovery.

Why Do You Need Family Therapy for Addiction?

family therapy for addiction

Even though it’s important for people with substance use disorder to seek individual therapy, integrated styles of treatment like family therapy are now more accepted. If your son or daughter is the one addicted to substances, you might feel like only they need therapy. But this is not the case.

If your family doesn’t participate in therapy with you, it can greatly thwart your treatment and subsequent recovery. Substance abuse treatment programs that include family therapy are likely to have more successful outcomes. 

Sometimes, your loved one suffering from addiction won’t want to participate in therapy. This could be due to several reasons, including that they have strained relationships with certain family members. Family therapy for addiction can help ease this person back into your life and mend broken ties among you and your loved ones.

Families that are aware of addiction among their loved ones will be more able to prevent it in other family members if signs start to show. They’ll also become aware of their own needs during this process.

However, a woman going through substance abuse who has an abusive partner should not participate in family therapy for addiction with him. In this case, family doesn’t have to mean blood relatives or a husband/wife. Coworkers and friends who you consider to be family can also attend family therapy for addiction. 

Take the Steps Toward Your Addiction Recovery

Our staff at Harmony Ridge knows that substance abuse doesn’t only affect one person; it impacts the entire family. We offer family therapy for addiction that can help you reaffirm your familial bonds and leave you with a better understanding of each other. 

We offer medical detox that can treat substance use disorder. Our facility also features different levels of care (intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and residential/inpatient treatment) for people struggling depending on the severity of their addiction. 

If you’d like to learn more about our family therapy program, contact us today. Our representatives will provide you with all the information you need. Make a fresh start and beat addiction while you still have time. 

References:

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/family-therapy

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/family-therapy/about/pac-20385237

https://drugfree.org/parent-blog/what-is-family-therapy-for-addiction-how-can-it-help-my-family/