How Does Family Therapy Work?
Family therapy for drug & alcohol addiction recovery includes a multitude of therapeutic approaches to address living in the presence of drug and alcohol addiction as well as specific aspects of parenting, possible abuse, conflict and economic strain. Because family therapy is especially important in increasing the likelihood of successful long-term recovery after inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment, substance use education also plays a large part.
If family members can identify signs and symptoms of relapse and provide a safe, stable environment at home for their loved one going through treatment, it is less likely that their loved one will use again as they will have others holding them accountable for their actions.
Most family therapists view addiction as a symptom of family dysfunction. In other words, the family unit as a whole undergoes stress when just one of the members is struggling.
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In this case, one member would be going through the rehabilitation process. Based on this model, it is important that the entire immediate family of the individual participate in the recovery process, as they are affected by it as well.
The Partnership to End Addiction has condensed this model of family therapy into its four most integral parts:
For many, addiction is an uncomfortable topic of discussion. When an individual is in recovery from addiction, close family members will often feel as though they have already failed and will have given up on being a source of healing for their loved one. In this case, intervention is necessary. Parents attending family therapy must be reassured by the therapist that their presence is necessary for the recovery process and that they must listen to their loved one and empathize with their experiences.
On the other hand, the patient must also understand that their parents are there to help them get through it, not bring them back to how their addiction felt at home. In summation, family engagement is the beginning of the conversation involving both parties in the recovery process.
Find out more about how families can hurt the recovery process and learn what you can do to avoid this.
Rather than focusing on the individual roots of problems, family therapy for drug & alcohol addiction recovery often emphasizes the importance of relationships. For example, instead of focusing on the fact that one parent is yelling at their child for coming home late, focusing on the idea that they are yelling because they worry about their child’s safety, not anything personal.
This also applies to substance use—rather than placing all the blame of addiction on the child, family therapy will emphasize the root causes of the addiction and remove some of the blame from internal to external.
Family Behavior Change
Family behavior change works on instilling new ways for family members to interact with each other. Obviously, changes depend on individual family dynamics, but they can usually be centered upon communication, enforcing rules and limits and giving each other room to express how they are feeling.
In other words, reshaping the environment that once allowed for addiction to thrive into an environment where the root causes of it can be spoken about openly and addressed appropriately.
Family restructuring attacks the core beliefs and rules of the family. Hand in hand with family behavior change, family restructuring shifts destructive family dynamics into ones that are conducive to recovery in a healthy environment.
For example, if the culture of the family was not conducive to openly speaking about personal problems and internalizing them leads to destructive habits, restructuring can help break down those barriers and establish an environment that encourages speaking openly.
Therapeutic Approaches to Family Therapy
There are many ways to offer family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Therapeutic interventions allow addicts to see how their actions have affected their families while simultaneously allowing each family member to see how their actions have affected the cycle of substance use.
Therapeutic interventions allow addicts and their loved ones to establish communication and slowly begin to rebuild the trust between both parties that was lost during the phase of addiction. Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can also help by providing families of addicts with the knowledge they need to deal with the patient’s addiction. For example, learning how to identify self-destructive behaviors and discover which communication methods are helpful and which may be harmful instead.
By establishing a way for both addicts and their loved ones to communicate again and rebuild their relationships, those suffering from addiction are much more likely to stay sober. Through open discussion and communication. Family therapy can help each member of the family better understand where the addiction stems from and how they can work together to prevent a relapse. One therapeutic approach to family therapy for substance use patients is the notion of the family system. Rather than looking at addiction as the individual’s problem, family therapy aims to help all members involved that every one of their actions may play a role in the patient’s addiction.
Understanding that the family is interdependent on one another can help each person identify behaviors that have contributed to the addiction problem. Substance use may be a result of the dysfunction within the family and each member’s actions affect the others. Sometimes, it can be subconscious behaviors and actions that create a ripple effect for one individual in the family.
If a loved one is suffering from substance use disorder, find out how family can help recovery.
Different Types of Family Therapy
Family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery can be achieved in more ways than one. A family therapist will explore different methods to see which one is best for each family. In many cases, many therapy types can be used to provide full, well-rounded treatment to the addict and their loved ones.
Each type of family therapy can serve a different purpose in the healing process and help bring the family from one step to the next. Each small step in the right direction is a step closer to recovering from addiction.
Multidimensional Family Therapy
This type of therapy is very common with adolescent patients. It involves allowing addicts to receive therapy with their family as well as alone. This can allow the therapist to address behavioral or emotional problems within the adolescent addict. The therapist will then offer the family some individual therapy to help them work on their own addictions or toxic behaviors and to offer parenting skills. This is particularly helpful for parents who aren’t sure how to deal with a struggling addict in the appropriate way.
Rather than focusing on the why, solution-focused therapy focuses on the solution to behavioral issues within the family. Instead of drawing attention to the issues that have eroded the relationships within the family, the therapy sessions are centered on how to improve from here on out.
Multifamily Group Therapy
Meeting with other families and learning about their struggles can help other families feel a little less alone. Each family can learn from the other and identify triggering behaviors in others which will, in turn, help them better identify those same behaviors within themselves. The goal is to provide support, help families feel heard and ultimately, help recovering addicts see other families are dealing with the very same issues they are.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery is widely available in the realm of addiction recovery centers. Most inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as private practices, offer family therapy as it has become an important part of the recovery process.
Additionally, families participating in family therapy will receive addiction education from licensed therapists and addiction professionals. When accompanied by the four core aspects of family therapy above, addiction education is extremely effective in creating a stable, supportive environment for the individual struggling from addiction once they are home.
Understanding Toxic Behaviors (On Both Sides)
The benefits of family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery are numerous. Family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery can begin by helping family members understand their own toxic actions or behaviors, the pitfalls of their family dynamic, and how their actions can be improved to benefit everyone, including the loved one suffering from addiction.
Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can also help rebuild trust between loved ones. Whether trust was lost as a result of the addiction or due to family behaviors, trust can be regained if both parties are open and willing to discuss. The help of a qualified family therapist can help each member of the family get to the bottom of their feelings and work toward building a new and improved relationship with one another.
Developing solid communication techniques can also be an excellent benefit from effective family therapy. Communication barriers can make it difficult to repair or sustain loving relationships and can make addiction worse for a loved one. Proper communication is key to understanding the addiction crisis in your family and can help finally mend some fences.
Forgiving Past Wrongs
Forgiveness is a tough concept for many suffering from addiction of the addictions of a loved on. A lot of this may stem from a lack of proper communication or an inability to share their honest feelings. Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can help both the addict and their loved ones learn to forgive and move forward.
Family therapy is also important for helping each member of the family identify their feelings and learn to deal with them appropriately. Some may feel anger, while others are dealing with resentment or frustration. Learning how to identify these feelings and how to function with them properly can help mend the family dynamic and begin the healing process.
Another benefit to seeking family therapy for substance use addiction recovery is that it allows each member of the family to understand the patient’s battle with addiction on a deeper level. Why is this person afflicted? Why can’t they stop? How can I help them to get and stay sober? These are questions all loved ones of substance use patients think through day after day and there isn’t a simple answer to any of them. Family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery is a long process but it can open the door to the first real path to communication and understanding. Knowing what each person is dealing with can help each member of the family empathize with each other more.
Improving communication within the family as well as agreeing on boundaries and regaining trust allow the family unit to strengthen as a whole to work together to defeat the substance use plaguing their lives. The key to a successful recovery is not just about the person who is battling addiction. Recovery from addiction is often a family journey that can open up the door to finally healing and moving forward.
Together, each family can work to create a stable and loving atmosphere to help the loved one suffering from addiction to find their way out of their addiction.
Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction? At Cardinal Health, we are here for you. Contact us to find out how we can help your loved one with their substance use addiction today. Call now – (855) 928-1987