Family Addiction Therapy: Repairing The Family Unit

family addiction therapy

Family Addiction Therapy: Repairing The Family Unit

Addiction is a far-reaching disease that usually affects the entire family of the addict or alcoholic. Even though the person suffering from addiction may not intentionally cause chaos or bring harm to the family unit, people who are caught in the dangerous pattern of drug abuse often engage in behaviors that inadvertently affect their loved ones. As a result of this, family members may struggle immensely while watching their loved one struggle with addiction.

Family members may begin losing trust in their loved one, coping in unhealthy ways, and experiencing a breakdown in communication that negatively affects the family dynamic. Fortunately, addiction treatment centers in Delray Beach recognize the importance of family involvement in the recovery process. During family addiction therapy, both the addict and their family are given the chance to heal.

What is Family Addiction Therapy?

When someone seeks treatment for substance abuse, they participate in a variety of different therapies. These may include individual therapy, group therapy, behavioral therapy, holistic therapy, and more. These therapies focus on addressing the underlying issues that provoke a person’s substance abuse and teaching that person how to cope without drugs or alcohol. However, they do not address the family unit.

Addiction experts acknowledge the fact that family involvement plays a central role in treating any mental or behavioral health problem, including addiction. Family therapy addresses family dynamics and the ways in which they either enable the patient’s addiction or support their recovery. In addition to addressing these behaviors, therapists work with familys to intervene in their relational patterns and to change them in positive ways.[1]

The word “family” in terms of therapy for drug and alcohol addiction can refer to many different circumstances and should encompass whomever the patient considers to be his or her family. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Traditional families with either heterosexual or homosexual couples consisting of two parents, single parents, children, adoptive families, and/or grandparents or step families that are helping raise the children.
  • Extended family members such as uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, nieces, and nephews.
  • Elected-family members who are not related by blood or marriage such as an emanciated teen living with a friend’s family, a child living with godparent’s or another non-biological adult.

Family therapy can help everyone involved understand the effects of addiction and how to support their loved ones.

The Structure of Family Therapy

Family addiction therapy may take a variety of different forms, such as:

  • Group therapy involving the patient and their family
  • Group therapy that involves multiple patients and multiple families
  • Private therapy sessions that involve a therapist, patient, and/or one or more family members
  • 12-Step support groups for family members of addicts like Alateen and Al-Anon
  • Individual therapy for children or spouses of the recovering patient

There are also several different approaches that therapists may use. Three of the most common include:

  1. Behavioral therapy – This approach uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to indentify uhealthy patterns and behaviors. It also teaches family members to replace unhealthy patterns with healthy ones that help support recovery.
  2. Strategic therapy – This approach aims to identify and change unhealthy family dynamics that support addiction. It has a strong focus on communication skills and setting boundaries because these are issues many family member struggle with.
  3. Multidimensional therapy – This approach is usually used if children or adolescents are involved in the family therapy process. It helps to build strong relationships between parents and children.

Goals and Benefits of Family Addiction Therapy

Spouses of addicts may be resentful and distrusting. Siblings may feel neglected and ignored. Children of addicts may not have the nurturing support and guidance they need to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Regardless of the dynamic, all family members are affected in different ways by addiction.

The first goal of family addiction therapy is to help patients and their family members overcome the obstacles unique to their situation.[2] Delray Beach substance abuse counselors work with family members and their loved ones to encourage:

  • Education on the disease of addiction as a disease
  • Rebuilding trust between family members
  • Extending forgiveness to the recovering addict
  • Setting boundaries
  • Enforcing accountability
  • Helping patients set reasonable expectations
  • Healthy coping strategies for the whole family

Families will be encouraged to let go of their weaknesses and utilize their strengths to help the whole family move forward with recovery.

Family substance abuse counseling also provides groups with a safe and therapeutic environment in which they can discuss their frustrations, concerns, and emotions. All sessions are facilitated by a licsensed therapist who can mediate the session and help the group stay on track.

Additional benefits of family therapy in addiction treatment include:

  • Set clear treatment goals for the entire family
  • Improve communication skills between family members
  • Promote personal and group wellness
  • Give each family member a voice in the recovery process

Finding The Right Treatment Program For You And Your Family

Involving the family in the recovery process can have huge benefits for the recovering individual and everyone involved. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and are ready to get started on your recovery, give us a call to find the right treatment program for you.