Many elements must come together to get the most out of rehab. One of the most critical factors is that an addiction treatment program helps family members as well. After all, addiction affects not only the users but also everyone in their families. For that reason, family therapy for substance abuse is beneficial for long-term addiction recovery.

What Is Family Therapy for Substance Abuse?

family therapy for substance abuse

Before learning about the relationship between addiction and family counseling, people need to understand family therapy. It’s a type of psychotherapy that aims to aid people with addiction and their family members in the healing process.

Many aspects go into this type of therapy. However, the two most essential parts are resolving conflicts and improving communication. Typically with drug abuse, there’s a breakdown of communication between the family members. This specific counseling approach can improve how they communicate.

Why is this therapy so standard in addiction rehab? The main reason is that it works. Finding a substance abuse treatment center that doesn’t offer it is rare. Experts understand how important it is to long-term sobriety and improving the family dynamic.

Learning About Codependency

During family therapy for substance abuse meetings, people learn about the dangers of codependency and substance abuse. Most of them don’t fully understand codependency. It’s an imbalance in the relationships between those with drug addiction and their family members. Typically, it involves family members taking care of, or covering for, loved ones with addiction.

For example, let’s say that a husband struggles with substance abuse and often misses work. Perhaps his wife usually calls into action for him to give his supervisor an excuse for his absence. In this situation, she covers up the husband’s poor behavior. She allows the addiction to continue because he doesn’t have to answer for his actions.

With that said, codependency can form in many ways. It can even include loaning or giving money to people who struggle with addiction. During family counseling, the family members learn how to spot signs of codependency and the harm that it causes.

The only way that people with addiction can get better is if loved ones stop enabling their behavior. They have to put an end to codependency. Family therapy can teach them how to achieve that.

Addiction Ruins Relationships

People have limits, and addiction often pushes them to those limits. In some cases, damage to relationships happens before they seek help. Family therapy can aid them in rebuilding these bonds.

In order for healing to occur, people have to rebuild their relationships. Keep in mind, however, that the bonds don’t restore overnight. It’s an ongoing process and one that therapy can assist.

People have limits, and addiction often pushes them to those limits. In some cases, damage to relationships happens before they seek help. Family therapy can aid them in rebuilding these bonds.

For healing to occur, people have to rebuild their relationships. Keep in mind, however, that the bonds don’t restore overnight. It’s an ongoing process and one that therapy can assist.

Impact of Substance Addiction on Families

Although the effects of substance addiction differ based on family structure, drug and alcohol abuse impacts families in unhealthy ways. Some examples include:

  • Negative emotions – Substance addiction causes family members to typically feel negative emotions like concern, anger, anxiety, resentment, guilt, and embarrassment.
  • Safety – In some instances, family members’ security may be in jeopardy due to someone’s substance addiction. Children or spouses might also have to obtain legal protection because they fear their loved one’s actions.
  • Responsibilities – Some family members inherit too many responsibilities that aren’t age-appropriate. This can cause children or spouses to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and resentful.
  • Communication – When a family member develops a substance addiction, family discussions are often negative and positive communication is rare. In addition, family members may neglect their own demands, concerns, and needs while caring for their addicted loved one.
  • Structure and limits – Homes in which substance addiction are usually found to have minimum parental engagement and nonexistent boundaries. This confuses children and encourages inappropriate behaviors. Parents and loved ones must not enable behaviors that contribute to the user’s substance abuse.
  • Denial – In a majority of cases, parents deny their child has a substance abuse problem. This is usually because they don’t want the stigma or they worry about the challenge of quitting.
  • Relationships – Substance addiction can also damage relationships that can travel through generations of negative behavioral modeling. Additionally, drug or alcohol addicts usually isolate themselves from family members while spending their social time with other substance addicts.

How Children May Cope with Family Addiction 

It’s possible that children could develop unhealthy coping skills in response to a substance addiction within the household and the chaos it unavoidably carries. Many children place blame on themselves for a parent’s substance abuse and will aim for perfection to keep balance with the household’s delicate environment. Conversely, children might withdraw for the same purpose.

Children who suffer from emotional, physical, or sexual abuse could develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and experience insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks. They may withdraw from social activities because they lack social skills or fear that someone will figure out they’ve suffered trauma. They might experience anxiety because of an unstable home environment or losing a parent to addiction.

Benefits of Family Therapy for Substance Abuse

An extensive collection of research has shown the positive impact family can have on a loved one’s recovery from substance addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that there are many benefits of family involvement during the recovery process, which include:

  • Keeping the patient motivated and engaged during the treatment journey
  • Educating yourself about addiction and the effects, it has on the family as well as understanding how the treatment works and what to expect
  • Enabling family members to speak their concerns and feelings by asking questions about their loved one’s substance addiction
  • Offering their love one an unlimited amount of support upon leaving treatment
  • Easing your feelings of anger, stress, fear, and confusion all related to the substance addiction
  • Allowing families to develop strategies and skills to help their loved one continue on their path of sobriety
  • Enhancing family communication skills
  • Allowing the opportunity to address any mental health issues like anxiety and depression, which can disrupt family communication and cause relapse 

Families involved in a loved one’s addiction recovery process will improve the chances of long-term success while also boosting their mental health. 

Objectives of Family Therapy for Substance Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has stated that there are two main goals of family therapy for addiction:

  • Provide helpful support for the patient in substance addiction treatment: Family therapy reduces a patient’s chances of relapsing, helps develop a positive attitude and behavioral changes, and supports long-term recovery for both outpatient rehab and residential treatment patients.
  • Improve the mental health of the family as a whole: Therapy allows family members to build trust and support forgiveness for prior actions. It also can resolve the conflict by reducing frustration, anger, and sadness feelings. Additionally, family therapy for substance abuse smothers the continuous crisis and encourages members to move past their negative emotions.

What to Expect During Family Therapy for Substance Abuse

family therapy for substance abuse

Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have stated that family therapy has shown positive results for substance addiction and co-occurring disorders. This includes depression, unemployment, child neglect, and other family conflicts. 

Below is what you can expect if you are enrolled in family therapy for substance abuse:

Family Involvement

Family therapy for substance abuse typically starts once a user has gone to treatment and been sober for an extended period. This may take weeks or months as the treatment process usually involves the patient going through rehab with another family member present. This can be somebody from an extended or immediate family, or a loved one who is significantly close to the patient.

Life Skills

During therapy sessions, the counselor will help family members learn new skills and teach them how to apply them. This will help and produce healthy interactions at the household that will improve the overall atmosphere. The counselors will also show the family members how to communicate more efficiently and act in ways that support recovery instead of preventing it.

Behavioral Changes

Another tool taught in family therapy for substance abuse is contingency management, which helps the patient develop behavioral goals that encourage sobriety. This improves development, helps repair damaged relationships, and fixes any underlying issues.

Goal-Setting

Family members will be required to set goals related to their at-home family roles. For instance, parents set goals in line with their parental roles; siblings set goals in line with their sibling roles, etc. These goals are shared and reviewed during each family therapy session, and members will present rewards when they achieve these goals.

Teaching Family Members About Addiction

Family therapy programs teach loved ones about addiction. One of the biggest reasons that communication between family members fails is because they don’t understand the disease. They wonder why people with addiction won’t stop using. During counseling, they quickly learn that ending addiction isn’t as easy as stopping.

In some cases, therapy acts as a crash course in addiction. The more that families learn about addiction, the easier it is for them to support loved ones in recovery.

Phoenix Rising Can Help Your Family Overcome Addiction

Do you struggle with addiction and need help overcoming it? Has addiction strained relationships within your family? If so, Phoenix Rising can help. We help people just like you overcome dependency on family therapy.

Of course, Phoenix Rising offers much more than just counseling for families. We take great pride in providing a wide range of services, including:

Don’t settle for a rehab center that only focuses on helping you. Get the most out of rehab with family therapy. Contact us at Phoenix Rising to start your renewal today.