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Family therapy for addiction

Thinking about family therapy for an addict?

Can families help addicts?  Definitely.  

If family therapy is done right, family therapy for addiction can help everyone involved find their new place in the family and bring people closer. Addiction and family of origin issues play a central role in the cycle of use.  And family therapy for addiction is a crucial stepping stone for the addict themselves. Without family therapy, those closest to the addict may create a negative or hostile environment. This can push the addict away and can be very damaging to the addicts support network.  And families near to learn about setting boundaries with an addict in order to promote healthy addiction recovery.

More here on the role and benefits of family therapy in addiction treatment. And a section for your questions and comments at the end.

The role of family therapy in addiction treatment

When someone seeks treatment for addiction, they usually undergo a wide range of therapies to help them get their life back on track. But what about their family? Drugs and alcohol can have just as great an impact on the family of an addict as they do on the addict themselves. This makes family therapy an important part of any recovery process.

Once an addict has decided to get help, the struggle for the family is just beginning. There are still issues with trust, betrayal and plenty of negative feelings that need to be dealt with before anyone can move on and begin the process of forgiving the addict and rebuilding a relationship. Family therapy is the best way to start healing the interpersonal hurts caused during addiction because it brings everyone together and forces people to face the feelings and issues they might otherwise avoid.

Benefits of family therapy for addiction

  • Address denial and boundary issues in a group setting.
  • Address underlying family structure of relationships and possible dysfunction.
  • Focus on the family system instead of the individual.
  • Identity interpersonal relationships which need to be altered to support an addict or so that the needs of family members can be met.

Family therapy for drug addiction

The first step in family therapy is to help everyone open up about their feelings. Resentments can be hidden and often people are not willing to share their real feelings. By bringing everyone together, family therapy insures that each person can share their feelings and problems.

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The next step is to make a plan. As with any therapy, it is not enough to simply talk about your problems, effective therapy means dealing with them and building a road map to insure you reach your goals. To do this, family therapy will help each member of the family set goals and deal with their issues.

These first two steps clear the air and provide an effective plan for recovery, both for the addict and the family. The final step is maintenance. The family has to go away and work to achieve their goals they can then return to family therapy when necessary in order to refine their plans and deal with any new or recurring issues.

The role of family therapy in addiction recovery

It is easy for family members to fall into old habits like trying to control an addict or doing everything for them. When the addict starts addiction recovery, they often push back on this type of behavior which can anger or confuse family members.  Family therapy helps prevent falling into this pitfall and allows people to redefine and understand their new roles in the family while breaking down and replacing old or bad habits.

Family therapy addiction questions

Still have questions about family therapy’s role in addiction treatment?  Please leave us your questions and comments below.  We’ll be happy to respond to you personally, or to refer you to someone who can be of help.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy: Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 39.

Photo credit: AZDHS

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5 Responses to “Family therapy for addiction
Nancy Voss
11:46 am March 27th, 2013

My son is an addict. I cannot help him anymore. He is destroying my family. I am a senior citizen who needs some help locally or online to help me through this chapter in my life. Thank you for any and all help…

2:37 pm March 28th, 2013

Hello Nancy. Get in touch with Al-Anon or Narc-Anon. Or call 1-800-662-HELP, a national drug abuse hotline which can get you in touch with local resources for drug addiction support. You are not alone!

Mary
8:47 pm June 20th, 2013

Son is addict..I am tired of the emotional roller coaster ride… It is draining the life out of me ! I have some good years left to go but his addiction is lessoning those years !!! I believe his father is in denial…keeps giving him chances.. I need to make my move. Help

1:05 pm July 3rd, 2013

Hi Mary. Check out drugfree [dot] org or call them Monday to Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm EST 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) to talk with a family addictions specialist. There are ways to intervene and cope, and you and your husband need to have a plan and be on the same page to face addiction TOGETHER.

R Johnson
1:36 am May 31st, 2016

This is great information which shows how crucial family therapy is in order for families to be restored following the addiction of one of its members. Each individual will benefit from participation in family therapy, and the family unit will be stronger.

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About Brad Girtz

Brad Girtz is a blogger working at Life Works Community, a residential treatment centre. He writes content about mental health, addiction and many other conditions treated at Life Works. Brad enjoys sharing news and information about the latest innovations and ideas in the field of addiction and mental health.

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