Family Therapy: A Holistic Approach to Addiction Recovery

Assisting families affected by substance abuse. The Arrowwood Addiction Treatment Center is dedicated to helping families affected by addiction find a path to healing.


The Impact of Addiction on Families and the Importance of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a deeply personal struggle, but its effects can ripple out and devastate the entire family. Because families are interconnected systems, any change in one member affects the rest. When addiction enters the picture, the entire family is impacted. On the other hand, a healthy family environment can provide a solid foundation for individuals battling drug addiction to achieve long-term wellness and sobriety.

This is why family therapy plays such a critical role in addiction treatment and recovery. It equips family members with the tools to repair and strengthen their relationships while helping them understand the impact of addiction on their loved ones and the family as a whole. Often, addiction arises as a result of dysfunction at home, and family therapy provides an opportunity to identify and address these risk factors.

Addiction also alters family dynamics, leaving other family members feeling angry, neglected, guilty, or ashamed. While the loved one with addiction may receive individual therapy or other forms of treatment, family members may not know where to turn. Family therapy provides a safe space for them to express their feelings about addiction and gain insight into how their behavior may have contributed to the situation. With the help of a trained therapist, they can work towards positive transformation and healing for the entire family.

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Understanding Family Dynamics: A Guide to Family Therapy During Addiction Treatment

During family therapy sessions, a therapist with a keen understanding of family group dynamics takes the lead. They recognize how each person in the family is influenced by others and can help each member of the family enhance their relationships by interacting positively within the family unit. This is facilitated through a therapist’s experience in family therapy.

Before undergoing family therapy for drug addiction, it’s imperative to determine which family members should be involved in the counseling process. Usually, those who meet the following criteria are considered:

  • Household maintainers
  • Key providers of support
  • Primary sources of financial help and resources
  • Individuals with whom the client has a strong and lasting emotional connection.

Clients normally decide to include family members, their significant others, friends, or coworkers as part of their family for therapy purposes.

Often, families tend to view a family member struggling with addiction as the core issue. However, family therapy is not about blame, but rather about helping the entire family recover and move forward together as a unit.

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Family Therapy Services

Below are some common services provided during family therapy sessions:

  • Private family sessions: In this case, the therapist has one-on-one meetings with one or more family members.
  • Group sessions: The family, including the client, gathers to talk about issues related to addiction, recovery, and their familial relationships.
  • Intensive family education sessions: These sessions involve family activities that aim to teach healthier ways of interacting with each other.
  • Individual counseling: The therapist conducts one-on-one sessions with spouses or children of recovering addicts.
  • 12-step meetings for families of addicts: Here, families experiencing similar difficulties come together to learn, share, and provide support to each other.

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Understanding Family Dynamics

Unhealthy Behaviors Families Use to Cope with Substance Abuse

When one or more family members are dealing with substance abuse, other family members may resort to unhealthy behaviors to cope with the addiction. These coping mechanisms within the family dynamic include:

  • Enabling behaviors: Family members may unknowingly support their loved one’s drug problem by shielding them from the consequences of their actions. This encourages the loved one to continue using drugs. Examples of enabling behaviors include purchasing drugs or alcohol for the family member, paying their bills to avoid financial problems, and excusing their violent or manipulative behavior.
  • Denial: Family members may refuse to acknowledge the drug addiction and downplay its severity. They may also suppress their emotions to avoid upsetting their loved ones.
  • Co-dependency: The dysfunction caused by the addiction can cause some family members to become overly preoccupied with their loved ones’ emotions while disregarding their own. This can lead to low self-esteem or misplaced anger that may manifest as outbursts against other family members. They may also adopt unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, to cope with the stressful situation.

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Achievable Goals For Family Therapy

Family therapists have several objectives when working with families experiencing drug addiction. These include:

  • Overcoming obstacles that may hinder the family’s recovery. Usually, families resort to denial, enabling behaviors, or co-dependency to cope with their loved one’s addiction. Family therapy helps families break these habits by identifying and addressing them. For example, some families end up giving drugs to their loved ones to avoid violent or destructive behavior.
  • Restoring normal, healthy family roles. Addiction causes chaos and disorganization within families, leading to the inversion of roles. It’s common to find kids taking care of their parents while parents act like children. Family therapy helps families recover from this by focusing on restoring appropriate family roles, improving communication, and creating a safe family environment.
  • Educating families on how to identify behaviors or thoughts that create the perfect conditions for addiction at home. Through family drug treatment programs, families learn about the effects of addiction, the recovery process, and the role they can play in supporting their loved one’s recovery.

Providing Compassionate and Supportive Care for Healing

It’s common to feel overwhelmed when facing drug or alcohol addiction, but please know that help is always available. If you or a loved one needs assistance, reach out to us anytime – day or night – for support. With the right care and attention, recovery is possible and a fulfilling life can be regained.

Call Arrowwood Addiction Treatment Center today to learn more about our Drug Treatment Family Therapy in Virginia.

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