The family has a central role to play in the treatment of any health problem, but family therapy is not used to maximum benefit in drug or alcohol addiction treatment. In substance abuse treatment, for instance, the individual client is the person in the family with the substance abuse problem. All of the attention is concentrated on their addiction and recovery. In family therapy, the goal of treatment is to meet the needs of all family members. The focus of family therapy treatment is to bring about productive change for the entire family.
How to Heal Someone Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol – and Their Family, Too
In discussing the evolution of family therapy as a component of substance abuse treatment, The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, points out that a primary challenge remains the broadening of the substance abuse treatment focus from the individual to the family.
The NCBI notes the importance of understanding the complex role that families can play in substance abuse treatment. They can be a source of help to the drug or alcohol addiction treatment process, but they also must manage the consequences of the addict’s behavior. Individual family members are concerned about their loved one’s substance abuse, but they also have their own goals and issues. Providing therapeutic services to the whole family can improve treatment effectiveness.
How is Family Defined?
For practical purposes, the family can be defined according to the individual’s closest emotional connections. In family therapy, clients identify who they think should be included in therapy. When commencing therapy, it is critical to identify people who are important in the person’s life. Anyone who is instrumental in providing support, maintaining the household, providing financial resources and with whom there is a strong and enduring emotional bond may be considered family for the purposes of therapy.
Addiction Support and the Family
The counselors and therapists at The Discovery House understand that substance addiction does not just affect the addict. Alcoholism and/or drug addiction is a family disease. When one member of the family struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, everyone suffers. Family members blame themselves; they feel shame, guilt, and remorse as they attempt to cover up the family condition. The actions of the addict impact all of their loved ones and close friends, and it is often necessary for these individuals to get help as well. A family addiction program can be very beneficial for families struggling with the drug problem or alcoholism of a loved one.
“Over time, the dynamics of a family can change drastically to accommodate the addict, and this dysfunction must be addressed before the family can heal” states The Discovery House Director, David Dequa. “Many family members suffer from co-dependency when an addiction is present. These individuals begin to crave the drama that living with an addict brings and they thrive on the cycle of fighting and making up that occurs so commonly with the addict. They lose confidence in themselves as individuals and feel that it is their job to rescue the person and stay with them no matter what the cost might be.”
Addiction therapy and family counseling sessions help everyone involved learn how to maintain healthy relationships and how to heal each member. Family therapy helps to mend the family and teaches loved ones how to be that source of encouragement that someone recovering from an addiction needs. It also helps family members to realize they are dealing with a condition that they didn’t cause and they can’t cure.
Getting Help for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
“We at The Discovery House understand the challenges that families of addicts face,” adds Dequa. “Our caring therapists work with families to get to the bottom of the resident’s addiction and provide support for families of addicts as well. The Discovery House connects these loved ones with support groups for families of addicts where they can bond with and learn from others who have been through the same kinds of experiences.
“Whether the resident is in drug rehab, alcohol rehab or co-occurring disorders treatment, we can help families learn how to support their loved one and help them maintain their sobriety after treatment. While in our inpatient residential facility, clients are encouraged to have their loved ones participate in our Saturday morning family therapy group.”
The Discovery House, located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, utilizes a variety of drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs that allow each client to receive the individualized care they deserve. The rehab center offers a variety of inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs as well as family therapy to help drug addicts and alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety. Each client at The Discovery House receives customized care to end their dependence on prescription drugs, heroin and other opiates and/or alcohol in order to live a sober life.
Do you agree that family members need their own support as well? Do you or a loved one have experience in drug or alcohol addiction treatment and family therapy? Please share with us on Facebook or Twitter @TDHRehab #AddictionTreatment.