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Family Therapy for Addiction

Addiction is a form of disease that destroys the user, family, and friends’ lives. There are many adverse effects of addiction in the family life.

Most addicts end up losing their source of income, and they sometimes abuse their families. Even without abuse, it is hard for family members to watch a loved one take more drugs every day.

The whole experience of living with an alcoholic has an impact on the entire family. Some of the effects are mild, like not being available for school functions. Others are adverse, like alcohol spending the family savings. Either way, the family always faces some challenges due to having an addict family member.

Family members of addicts need therapy for emotional guidance. A therapist with a good understanding of family dynamics can help families deal with a family member’s substance abuse.

Different types of treatment give family members coping mechanisms to deal with the effects of substance abuse.

What Exactly Is Family?

The definition of family is changing, and the composition of family units is broad nowadays. However, the functionality of families remains the same.

Some adults can be married or unmarried and cohabiting, and they act as providers. A family also includes kids who may be biological kids of the adults or adopted.

The adults in a family may be gay, heterosexual, lesbians, interracial, or inter-religion. In some situations, families have a single parent due to a spouse’s death, abandonment, or choice.

There are extended family members who include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Other non-biological family members have godparents and close friends to the adults or kids.

Each family member has a role, and they may change when one member begins to abuse substances. All the scenarios above are forms of families. The dynamics may vary depending on the composition of a family unit.

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What is Family Therapy for Addiction?

Family therapy for addiction is a form of treatment that includes the family members of a person addicted to substance abuse.

Substance abuse, whether alcohol or drugs, can affect how the family functions and lead to dysfunction. Dysfunctional families have many unresolved issues that can lead to family members acting negatively or violently towards each other.

Family therapy is a safe space where families can discuss how a member’s substance abuse negatively affects them. The type of family therapy will depend on substance abuse and the family member with an addiction.

Family therapy because of teen addicts will be different from the one where the addict is a parent.

Types of Family Therapy

Each person has different therapy needs depending on the family members. Parents need a different kind of treatment than children or siblings.

Also, therapists need to consider the recovery stage of an addict before choosing a suitable type of family therapy.

1. Intervention Therapy

Some addicts refuse to seek help even when family members have repeatedly asked the family member to go for rehabilitation. Intervention therapy prepares family members to decently confront an addict and show the family member the need for rehab.

The therapist is usually present during the intervention and may recommend a suitable rehabilitation facility for a loved one.

2. Couples Therapy

Couples need therapy separately if one partner is an addict. The marriage aspect plays a role in addiction recovery when it comes to teams. Therapy can help the healthy partner level with the addicted partner when it comes to family matters and finances.

Partners living with an addict tend to develop harmful coping mechanisms like staying with the partner when taking drugs or alcohol to prevent trouble.

3. General Family Therapy

Addiction of a family member affects the whole family unit one way or another. Children can become violent and rebellious because of the things happening at home. Adults can become workaholics to avoid facing the situation at home.

An addicted adult can squander family savings to buy drugs or alcohol. General family group therapy involves every member of the family, and it factors their emotions and fears.

A therapist can choose to talk to children separately from the adults in the family. Teens will require a different approach to family therapy than younger kids.

The goal will be to give each family member healthy tips on coping with the substance abuse of a loved one. Overall, family therapy is an excellent way to help families deal with the effects of substance addiction.

4. Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is ideal for all family members, especially those who refuse to go to group therapy. Individual therapy allows family members to speak their innermost thoughts concerning a loved one’s substance abuse.

Some family members can experience disgust, pain, fear, uncertainty, and other negative emotions. Individual therapy assists people in dealing with negative emotions and tapping into the positive side of things.

How does it Work?

Family therapy is an ongoing activity that aims to ensure the mental and emotional well-being of family members. First of all, treatment begins after the addicted family member leaves a rehabilitation facility.

Families need to go to therapy with or without the person in recovery. At times, family therapy starts before an addict leaves the rehabilitation facility. The process is known as inpatient family therapy. The point is to understand family dynamics and start dealing with some of the underlying issues.

Once an addict is out of rehab, family therapy is necessary to ensure family members cope with the required changes to support a loved one’s recovery. For example, there cannot be alcohol in the house where an alcohol addict is recovering.

Family members need to learn about behaviours that can trigger relapses in someone who is recovering.

Some family therapies may include 12-step therapy practices. Some sessions may be informal, while others can be intense and dig deep into underlying issues.

A therapist will prepare sessions for the family and decide on the topics for each session. Consistency in family therapy is imperative if the family wants to learn the best way to support a loved one during recovery.

Some of the issues that family therapy deals with include:

  • One of the issues discussed is appropriate communication methods among family members. Some family members rebel while others keep quiet instead of sharing their feelings. Therapy helps each member learn how to express themselves without sounding accusing or doing something destructive
  • Family therapy for addiction deals with destructive behaviours that family members learn over time, like enabling a person by buying drugs or alcohol. The members learn new behaviours that are supportive of the recovering member. Behavioural changes are essential, especially in families that have a history of drug abuse and alcoholism
  • Family cohesion is another issue that therapy dealing with when an addict is in recovery. Families learn about their strengths and how to use those strengths to rebuild cohesion. A family needs to learn how to function as a healthy unit once again
  • It helps with the acceptance of the member in recovery. Some members, like kids and spouses, may feel tired of dealing with an addict. Some of them may not be ready to forgive a recovering addict of the things they did when abusing drugs or alcohol. Therapy provides a neutral ground for family members to accept what they are capable of forgiving
  • Therapy helps parents understand what leads teens to take drugs or alcohol. It also teaches parents of the steps necessary to help an adolescent recover from addiction

How effective is Family Therapy?

Family therapy plays an essential role in substance abuse recovery. The family unit can provide immense support when an addict is in recovery.

Dealing with addiction’s negative impacts gives families a chance to heal when a member is recovering from substance abuse. It also prepares family members for what to expect when an addict relapses.

Addiction recovery is a journey, and an addict may have to try several times before successfully abstaining from substance abuse or alcohol. Family members have to be healthy and ready to deal with the challenges that accompany the recovery progress.

Overall, family therapy has a positive impact on the recovery journey of family members. It gives families a chance to overcome substance abuse effects by one member and come together as a functional unit.

What is the Goal of Family Therapy?

The main aim of family therapy is to preserve the family unit and protect healthy interactions. Many negative emotions develop in family members when one of them uses drugs or alcohol. Some feelings, like hate, anger, and uncertainty, can have dire effects on a family.

Therapy prompts non-using family members to make changes in the communication and environment of an addict to facilitate a successful recovery.

Generally, most family members are willing to assist an addicted member in getting clean and staying sober. A healthy family unit can help a recovering addict maintain their sobriety.

The family may have to define specific goals of therapy depending on the composition of the family unit. The treatment can then teach family skills, which will help them achieve their goals.

Is Family Therapy Voluntary?

No one can force family members to attend therapy sessions. Most family members agree to family therapy because it will aid in a loved one’s recovery process. Inversely, family therapy helps all family members cope with the changes of living with an addict.

It is common for some family members to refuse to attend the therapy sessions. Those members come around when they see a change in the behaviour of the recovering addicts. The bottom line is that families have to agree to go to therapy voluntarily.

You have already made a big first step in admitting that you have a problem

Now is the perfect time to take advantage of a rehab programme that can help you change your life for the better. It is a choice that will benefit you and it will also benefit all of the people that love you. You have the power to beat your problems with addiction and there is help available to assist you.

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