Addiction affects the whole family, which means each person in a family unit plays a role. Attending family therapy is a great way to educate families about addiction and provide tools for how to manage challenges like substance use disorder (SUD) together.
At Laguna Shores, we believe in the power of family unity. With the help of our team of experienced family therapists, your family can tackle addiction together. Rebuilding a recovery-supportive family life is key for long-term recovery.
Negative Impact of Addiction on the Family
When a family member develops SUD, it affects every other member in unique ways. Children may have unmet developmental needs and impaired attachment. A marriage might experience economic hardship and emotional distress. Sometimes SUD may introduce violence in the home.
These common and negative impacts of addiction on all family members mean that only treating the person suffering from SUD is not enough. A well-rounded treatment plan should involve all family members to care for their health outcomes and lasting sobriety for the person with SUD.
Research shows that more than one in ten children lives with at least one adult who has SUD at home. These children are at a much higher risk of developing SUD and mental health issues later in life. Family therapy when treating that adult’s addiction can help lower those risks for the child.
Because close family ties provide communication channels, families with addiction problems tend to have challenges communicating. This can make the home an unhealthy place for everyone’s social functioning and overall well-being.
The Benefits of Family Therapy
Family therapy is based on the importance of the family system and the home environment and how those things affect addiction and recovery. A recovering individual needs support from their family, and the family needs support as well so that everyone can heal from the effects of SUD in the home.
The overall focus of family therapy is on improving the roles, relationships, and communication patterns within the family unit. Family members who participate in therapy sessions together will gain an awareness of these dynamics. This awareness is the first step toward positive change.
A trained family therapist will then leverage the family system to influence positive change. They create a safe space for family members and guide conversations to be both revealing and healing. Many people hear their loved ones’ honest feelings or interpretations of experiences for the first time in family therapy.
SUD is a chronic brain disease, so, as with other diseases, involving the family is a natural and reasonable approach. Unfortunately, the shame and stigma associated with addiction may create barriers for people to participate in family therapy. The therapist’s job is to help the family understand and implement healthy behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses to support their loved one’s recovery.
What to Expect From Family Therapy
Like all recovery-oriented therapies, family intervention begins with an assessment. The goal for the first few meetings is to meet with family members and assess their functioning in the context of addiction and recovery. A therapist will identify specific areas of family life to address in sessions. These will focus on adjustments related to the addiction issue. To help motivate participants in these treatment sessions, the therapist will also assess and identify family strengths.
Afterward, the family therapist will outline treatment options and ask for cooperation in carrying out the plan. They will motivate all family members to support their loved ones by participating and sharing with honesty. It is the job of the family therapist to put families at ease and make them feel comfortable enough to participate openly in both the assessment and counseling process. The key is establishing an open and collaborative relationship between all participants.
Family therapy is often used alongside other treatments, such as medications and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). A therapist has a wide range of tools to guide the intervention. The most common family-based models are behavioral couples therapy and the risk reduction method. The goal of these is to help participants improve communication skills, problem-solving skills, and parenting skills, and decrease conflict.
Common Challenges in Family Therapy
Sometimes, Child Protective Services or the criminal justice system might mandate family therapy. People might consider it unpleasant to be mandated to go through these emotionally-charged conversations, but these intense emotions are a normal part of the process. The therapist will help family members discover new ways of coping with emotions instead of reverting to shame and blame.
Some people consider family therapy secondary to individual or group counseling. During the assessment, the therapist will assess family members’ attitudes about involvement. They will use customized ways to motivate family members for better participation because, in reality, family therapy is just as important as individual therapy and healing.
Addiction affects the whole family. Therefore, each person in your family unit plays a role. Attending family therapy is a great way to help families understand addiction and provide tools to help them face challenges as a united front. Family therapy is an important part of SUD treatment because when one family member is ill with the disease of addiction, the whole family is ill and at risk for SUD. Since the family is a system of closely connected parts, when one part “breaks down,” it affects the entire system. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we believe in the power of family unity. With the help of experienced family therapists, your family can tackle addiction together. Laguna Shores Recovery offers treatment plans which also include detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching. Call 866-934-5276, and we will be happy to talk with you.