Whenever addiction exists, family relationships flounder. Addicts tend to make finding their substance of choice and using it their top priorities. Moreover, those who love addicts often deal with severe trauma and intense feelings of neglect.
Few addicts are successfully able to maintain their addictions all on their own. When their resources run dry and they’re poised to hit rock bottom, some family members may act as enablers by feeding and supporting the addictions.
For these and other reasons, addiction is often called a family disease. Everyone in the household is affected by it, and everyone in the home can benefit from some form of treatment. Taking part in family therapy during rehab can be beneficial all-around.
These services give everyone a chance to learn healthy and effective ways of communicating. They also make it easier to create a loving and supportive environment that’s conducive successful recovery.
How Substance Abuse Affects Families
The goals of family therapy are multi-pronged. Having the understanding and support of loved ones can make facing and overcoming the early and long-term hurdles of recovery infinitely easier. Unfortunately, many family members of addicts don’t fully understand addiction. They may see it as a sign of weakness or insufficient willpower, or they may consider addicts as being lazy, unmotivated, or even selfish.
Sadly, no one views an addict in a harsher light than the addict himself. Moreover, addiction isn’t a personal shortcoming or even a personal choice. Instead, it’s a chronic and lifelong disease. With this understanding, addicts can get the help they need to effectively and successfully manage their illnesses.
With the right management strategies, they can go on to lead healthy, stable, and substance-free lives. Recognizing addiction as a disease allows all parties to achieve a true state of forgiveness, and to begin rebuilding their relationships from a fresh, clean slate. Thus, family therapy often starts by clearly defining what addiction means.
However, it’s also important to note that certain forms of family dysfunction can both contribute to addiction, and make the road to recovery more challenging. These include:
- Enabling behaviors
- Demeaning words and actions
- Toxic or abusive living environments
- Poor communication
- Unhealthy family roles used as coping mechanism
While the family’s role in addiction recovery is to support the recovering addict, each person must also learn how to care for themselves. Codependent behaviors must be identified and addressed, and communication skills on all sides must improve.
Not only does family therapy during rehab aim to support the recovering addict, but these services also strive to address and undo much of the trauma that everyone else has experienced. They are especially beneficial for married couples, and for families with minor children living in the home. Through these services, everyone can learn healthful and sustainable ways for managing their relationships, their individual mental health, and the ongoing challenges of recovery.
Fixing Unhealthy Family Behaviors
Identifying and acknowledging unhealthy family behaviors are essential steps in fixing them. Most enablers do not initially recognize their words and actions as being harmful or counterproductive to recovery. Instead, they often do and say what they do in a genuine effort to help.
In fact, enablers work hard to keep an addict’s circumstances from becoming worse, even though their efforts are actually keeping addicts trapped in the same cycle of self-abuse. By feeding habits and preventing their loved ones from hitting their personal rock bottoms, they are often impeding the progress towards seeking and accepting professional help.
Few family members are willing to admit their own actions may be contributing to addiction. People who are codependent have a tendency to help others before they help themselves. When codependent relationships go on for too long without co-dependency being resolved, feelings of resentment can abound.
One of the goals of family therapy is often teaching co-dependent people and enablers to lovingly detach. Loving detachment allows recovering addicts to focus on their own well-being while resting assured that their family relationships will remain intact. Simultaneously, loving detachment gives enablers and co-dependent people permission to prioritize themselves, and permission to start living their own lives more fully.
Finally, family therapy seeks to set the stage for healing for all parties. Improved communication, increased self-awareness, and recognition of the individual roles that everyone has played in fostering, accepting, enabling, or ignoring addiction is often discovered. It offers:
- Effective strategies for resolving disagreements and other challenges
- Information on common relapse risks and triggers
- Tools and resources for family members who need extended therapy and help
- An evidence-based view of addiction
- A safe place to share difficult emotions
and more. When recovering addicts intend to return home after addiction treatment, family therapy additionally provides solid guidelines for creating a safe, and temptation-free living environment.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is available in many different forms. It is sometimes offered as an on-campus component of a person’s addiction recovery program. Family members can visit on scheduled days to work with counselors and their loved ones. This helps them in identifying and addressing issues that are relevant to their own trauma, and to the overall recovery process.
Family therapy can also be sought by a person’s loved ones at an offsite location. These services are great for families with minor children, and for families with excessive trauma to heal from. No matter what form it takes, it’s virtually guaranteed to set the stage for improved relationships, and improved mental and emotional wellness for all participating parties.
Benefits of Family Therapy in Addiction Recovery
There are countless negative emotions that can be identified and resolved during family therapy. Each participant can learn how to deal with stored resentment, guilt, grief, and more. Patients and their loved ones can develop a fuller understanding of family’s role in addiction recovery, and everyone can achieve the right levels of accountability for ensuring continued healing.
If you or your loved one is seeking addiction treatment, getting the entire family involved can be beneficial all-around. This is an excellent step towards putting some of the greatest challenges of the past behind you. It can also help move towards offering the recovering addict in your life the level of support they require.
At Recovery Bay Center, we offer family therapy as a primary component of our care. Best of all, our counselors are always standing by, and they’re always willing to share additional details about our programs. Call us today to learn more about our rehab center, our on-campus treatment types, and all other services we supply.