Family relationships create bonds that affect every member. In family therapy for addiction, everyone learns how addiction affects those ties. Group size may range from as few as two to 10 or more. Like a mobile that alters its shape when the wind blows, changes in one family member affect everyone else.
When addiction enters a family, the impact can produce a harmful, dynamic result. Families often find it very hard to offer support to someone who needs it. However, family therapy can provide a path to healing and recovery from addiction.
What is Family Therapy for Addiction?
A safe setting in a therapist’s office provides family therapy for addiction that copes with emotional conflicts. One of the goals of family therapy helps members find the best way to help one who needs it. Another goal is improving the emotional health of the whole family.
Therapists may ask the person in treatment to choose the family members to include in group sessions. Selecting those who matter the most may expand the group size. Extended family members, fellow workers, and close friends may add as much value as parents, spouses, and children.
Talking and Listening
Addiction can make people feel lonely and apart. The feelings of separation add to the problem that substance abuse creates. In a family therapy session, members talk and listen to each other, and it provides relief. Family therapists create a safe space where speaking and listening become easier.
Expert guidance makes family therapy a worthwhile event in understanding self and each other. Even so, families face uniquely difficult challenges when trying to help a member cope with addiction and recovery. Therapy helps families recognize and provide a need for support that helps a member stay in treatment.
Sharing and Learning
Family therapy for addiction helps everyone in a group understand addiction. Not surprisingly, therapy reveals the roles that everyone plays in it. The healing that leads to recovery involves learning and growth. When family members can believe in the process, significant progress begins.
Family therapy helps everyone become aware of the impact that addiction creates. Perhaps more importantly, it offers new skills to cope with them. No family is immune to addiction, and it can affect every income level. Education, age, race, interest group or beliefs do not make any difference. The issue of substance abuse can affect everyone in a family and not only the person in treatment.
Everyone has a risk of becoming addicted to substances. Likewise, anyone can suffer the costs of someone else’s addiction. Family therapy offers a path to recovery that helps everyone seek a healthy lifestyle. Thus, the process of realizing how addiction affects everyone gives families the skills that promote health and healing.
How Do Family Therapy for Addiction Sessions Typically Work?
In family therapy, the whole family may meet on some days. Other times, only a few members may meet. Sessions usually last about one hour, and the therapist’s office provides a comfortable place to meet once a week. The focus of a session depends on the needs of the group as the therapist sees them. Often, it centers on the person in treatment. However, it may center on another family member too. Still, another session may choose to focus on the family unit.
Therapists set a positive tone for the sessions in the first meeting. A welcome to everyone includes making everyone feel included in the group. Starting with the second meeting, the group gets down to doing the work of therapy. Gracefully, the therapist balances the process to allow members to express feelings openly. An outcome of family therapy that makes each session valuable produces relief from pain and discomfort.
As members explore life experiences, behaviors and emotions, progress in coping with addiction starts to emerge. The healing power of therapy rests on sharing with others. The outcome of family therapy for addiction helps relieve guilt, pain and stress. A final session lets the group review the progress made and promise to use therapy for the value that it offers to a healthy lifestyle.
How Does Addiction Affect the Whole Family?
Addiction can affect a family emotionally, financially and medically. Further, it can result from genetics while it changes the family dynamic. The loss of control over actions that it causes can make people seek satisfaction. Cravings may exist for alcohol or other substances. Without intending to harm anyone, people with addictions can damage friendships. Assuredly, other impacts may cause loss of jobs and inflict pain on family members.
Research by the National Institutes of Health denies the idea that choice or a lack of moral strength controls addiction. Studies show that the brain changes with addiction. Getting it back to its normal state requires a lot of work, and family therapy for addiction can help. Drugs or alcohol can affect the brain’s decision-making ability. The results may make someone do things that hurt everyone in a family.
Scientists may not yet know why some people have addictions while others do not. They do know that addictions run in families. Even so, not all family members may face the same risks. The impact becomes noticeable when a member with an active addition fails to act responsibly. One outcome can allow another member to seek more control. It can alter the balance of relationships.
When one person struggles with a serious condition, no one in the family can avoid its impact. The changes occur slowly and may not attract notice at first. However, the condition disrupts family life until family therapy for addiction can help. Compromises can produce long-term effects that do not go away on their own. Areas that feel the effects include family finances, physical health, mental health and emotional stability.
The consequences to someone who needs treatment may include anger, anxiety, depression, fear, frustration, guilt, shame and self-blame. Family therapy offers alternatives to the impacts that addiction causes.
Considering the Different Roles a Family Plays in Addiction
Family dysfunction can appear in a variety of ways that can contribute to addiction. Like the mobile that turns in the wind, personalities react to forces within the family that cause discomfort. Research shows that some typical forms of family dysfunction may occur when certain types of behavior appear.
Compulsions and Addictions
When either or both parents cannot control the use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, overworking or eating, it matters. The role affects other family members.
A threat or actual use of physical violence by parents toward each other creates a significant impact on children who witness it.
When parents unfairly expect children to meet adult needs, it creates an undue burden. An expectation that requires a child to cheer up an unhappy adult creates a heavy load that can produce effects later.
The loss of physical or financial care removes emotional support that delivers a powerful impact on children.
Too Much Control
A family that has strong overly strong religious, political or personal beliefs may allow too little room for child development.
Similarly, a parent who has depression or emotional issues can help create conditions that lead to addiction. It may surprise almost no one that other issues can increase the risk of addiction. Understandably, some ordinary influences can help lead to the risk of substance abuse.
Low self-esteem, few social skills, and no support system may create problems that affect people’s lives. Major impacts can occur from trauma or abuse and depression. Also, friends who use drugs or alcohol can pose risks as well.
Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction
A decision to go to family therapy for addiction can produce benefits that last a lifetime. In a therapist’s office, family members can talk about issues that concern the family. It puts everyone on an e
ven footing that promotes honest communication.
Some of the benefits that come from family therapy include relief from stress, discomfort and unhappiness. When family members receive support, it lessens feelings of loneliness. Here are a few other benefits of family therapy for addiction:
- Open communication can change crises into resolution.
- Sharing thoughts reconciles distrust.
- Honest expression replaces guilt with forgiveness.
- Airing deep feelings brings hope out of despair.
- Decisions to stay in treatment become easier, reducing risks of dropping out.
- Family therapy for addiction helps reduce the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Shared feelings discourage relapse and promote long-term recovery.
- Changes in family dynamics reduce stress on family members.
- Helping others cope with addiction can prevent drug or alcohol use.
- Family therapy with individual treatment helps reduce rates of relapse.
- Family members can benefit from therapy as well.
- Learning how to talk to each other may provide the biggest benefit of all.
Getting Help from Compassionate Professionals
At Intrepid Detox, our approach to therapy offers a deep level of understanding based on experience. Staff members who know the challenge of substance addiction personally can relate to you better than someone who has not. People who have never felt the pain of addiction cannot understand it as well as we do.
Thus, we offer programs at Intrepid that meet the needs that we know substance abusers understand all too well. Addiction affects the mental and physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life, and we can offer help when you need it the most. Contact us to find how our kind and caring staff can help you recover from addiction.