A drug or alcohol addiction has a disastrous effect on the person struggling with the disease. But addiction also has devastating consequences for that person’s family. Perhaps the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) puts it best: “addiction is a family disease.”
Addiction Is a Family Disease
Addiction puts everyone in the family unit under a tremendous amount of stress. Family members live with disrupted routines, broken promises, and shattered trust. Regardless of the type of family unit, family therapy is a very important and beneficial part of addiction treatment.
What Is Family Therapy?
When a family member suffers from the disease of addiction, families play an important role in their treatment and recovery. Those that have strong family support are more likely to recover. Family therapy generally involves the person with the substance use disorder and at least one family member. It could be a parent, spouse, sibling, significant other, or anyone else who has a close relationship with the person receiving treatment for addiction.
For family therapy to be successful, the family must support the recovery of their family member. The main purposes of family therapy are:
- To help the user to find or develop ways to live without their substance of choice by using the resources and strengths of the family unit.
- To mitigate the impact of the devastating effects that the substance use had on the addicted person and the family members.
- To help family members learn how to make changes that are specific and positive that will improve the home environment and help heal the damaged relationships within the family.
Family therapy provides a safe place for everyone to learn about addiction and how it has affected their loved ones. It teaches them how to handle their family member’s recovery and heal as a family unit.
The Benefits of Family Therapy
When a family is involved in the recovery of their loved one, they improve the chances of their loved one making a successful long-term recovery–and improve their own mental health and the functioning of the household.
In family therapy, everyone learns about addiction and how it affects all family members. They gain an understanding of how treatment works, what they need to do, and what to expect when it is complete. It gives family members a chance to voice their concerns and feelings and provides them the opportunity to ask questions about their loved one’s addiction.
The following are additional benefits of family therapy:
- It helps to keep your loved one motivated and engaged during their treatment.
- It provides the chance for family members to develop strategies and skills to help their loved one lead a sober life.
- It eases the feelings of stress, anger, fear, and confusion that built up during the time their loved one was in active addiction.
- It gives everyone the opportunity to talk about issues such as anxiety or depression that may exist within the family unit.
- It improves overall communication skills.
- It provides the opportunity to offer your loved one a high level of knowledgeable, appropriate support after treatment.
If You Need Help
At English Mountain Recovery, located in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, we understand the importance of family therapy and offer it as part of our treatment plan. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, give us a call and speak to a professional. We will answer your questions and help you get started on your journey to recovery.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.