The impact of addiction isn’t limited to only the addicted person, sadly the consequences of addiction often ripple out to impact everyone in the family. Additionally, the causes of substance abuse can complex – family issues are often a factor in developing addiction as a coping mechanism. For these reasons, you may have heard addiction referred to as a family disease.
Because of this interconnection, addiction treatment often incorporates family members and close friends into the process. Because all the individual people in a family are interconnected, meaning one person’s behaviour can impact the others, the overall wellbeing of the family can play an important role in the recovery process.
During family therapy, a counsellor will facilitate healing by providing a facilitated therapeutic space in which family members can have an opportunity to express how they feel. It may be useful to talk about what has been happening in your lives, it might be that you have been struggling with preoccupation and worry about the addicted person.
Family therapy aims to create positive change by reducing the negative influence of addiction on all the members. Through the family therapy process, the counsellor can enable all members to find motivation for change and to develop positive and effective coping mechanisms.
Even if addiction has driven a wedge between you and your family members, you do not have to carry this on. You can choose to change, though it may be challenging, together you can learn together with your family members and a trained counsellor to practice connecting effectively.
Addiction is often a lonely illness but through recovery, you can start to become mindful of your connections with others, and really start to reap the benefits of shared moments of connection.
Family therapy in addiction treatment can be delivered in various different therapeutic styles including:
Because of the range of approaches available to the counsellor, and the difference in individual need, family therapy will look and feel different for everybody.
Additionally, there are many different therapeutic approaches including:
Families living with addiction don’t have to walk the path of recovery alone. Treatment facilities often provide support both for the addicted person and for their family. Family therapy will help to:
Living with addiction in the family is never easy. It is not just the addicted person who suffers the consequences of their addiction. Unfortunately, spouses, parents, siblings, and children often bear the brunt of addiction as well.
Active addiction often leads to a breakdown in communication. Family members may retreat into hurt silence or blame themselves for what is happening. Family therapy is designed to help break down that mistrust and guilt.
Through therapy families that were once defined by addiction can be transformed into being supportive and positive, and interdependent.
Through family therapy, you will learn to practice positive communication skills, in conjunction with self-care skills. This combination will provide the opportunity for respectful, boundaried, and assertive communication.
Each family member will be able to take responsibility for their own recovery while processing their thoughts and feelings in a facilitated environment.
Family therapy will also help families be aware of, and understand, enabling behaviours which may get in the way of recovery.
Through therapy, family members can learn about the nature and processes of addiction, as well as the systems in place that will help support the addicted person when they leave treatment.
There are a number of interventions which can continue long after primary treatment is completed. It can be useful for the family members to learn about the 12 step fellowships, and to be aware of the ongoing work that may be required to bring about long-term sobriety.
Family therapy offers an amazing opportunity to heal maladaptive patterns that might be playing out in your family. You can expect many positives to result from the treatment.
Addicts often report that they use drugs because of a sense of loneliness, a sense of being inherently different somehow, sadly addiction only serves to exacerbate this feeling.
Addictive behaviour sometimes provides addicts with an initial sense of community and connection with other people. Tragically though the relationships formed within an addictive context are often negative, unstable, and dangerous. There is a reported correlation between addiction and domestic violence, and addicted homes can be disastrous for children.
The family group will give you the chance to work on creating a genuine sense of safety, security, and love within your family. Your therapist will work with you to help you heal the dysfunction, isolation, and trauma that addiction may have caused in your home.
You will work on building connections and a supportive interdependence which can only be a positive factor in your ongoing recovery journey.