Whether you, your spouse, or another relative suffer from substance abuse or addiction, you may have noticed how it affects your entire family. But the good news is that you don’t have to struggle alone. Compassionate addiction treatment professionals are here to help your family recover from the effects of drug or alcohol addiction.
At Northern Illinois Recovery Center, we offer a comprehensive family therapy program that addresses all the aspects of the addiction so that each member of your family can heal and discover a better life.
What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy for addiction is a psychological counseling method that helps family members improve communication and solve problems. It is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist. This type of therapy is usually short-term and may include all the members of the family or just the individuals who are willing to participate.
While individual therapy focuses on the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of one person, family therapy explores the relationships and examines the experiences of all the family members. The four most important parts of family therapy are:
- Family Engagement: Family therapy works to improve family members’ involvement. Family engagement interventions usually happen during the first stage of addiction treatment.
- Relational Reframing: This consists of interventions that work to move individuals from their specific ways of defining a problem and developing solutions toward understanding that is focused on relationships.
- Changing Family Behavior: The goal is to adjust the behavior of the family members by teaching new skills and encouraging individual changes in behavior.
- Family Restructuring: Family therapy assists in changing the way the family system is governed, shifting basic beliefs, and so forth.
Substance Abuse is a Family Disease
If you feel your entire family is being affected by substance use, you are not alone. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) identifies substance abuse as a family disease that can destroy the stability of the home and affect each member’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Substance use disorder can also negatively impact a family’s finances.
However, those who suffer from addiction don’t have to feel helpless. Families who are dealing with the effects of substance abuse are not without hope. There is help through addiction counseling and support from licensed professionals who want to see your family thrive as you reclaim your lives together.
Why Family Therapy for Addiction is Important
According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), “Family therapy can help families become aware of their own needs and aid in the goal of keeping substance abuse from moving from one generation to another.” Furthermore, substance abuse treatment programs have better outcomes if family members are also involved in the therapy process.
If the family members decide not to get involved with educating themselves about substance abuse and its effect on the family, it might actually hamper the person’s recovery. Unwilling family members may unknowingly continue displaying enabling and dysfunctional behaviors as a result.
The Effects of Substance Abuse on Family and Friends
There is universal knowledge that the negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse particularly impact families. Here are 9 common effects of substance abuse on the family unit:
- Financial issues: Keeping up with substance use can become expensive. The body’s constant cravings for alcohol or drugs can lead individuals to make unwise decisions regarding their money. People who suffer from substance use disorders may spend countless dollars to purchase alcohol or illicit street drugs. Also, addiction can lead to job loss, which ultimately causes financial hardship.
- Partner conflicts: Addiction can cause marital and relationship problems. The spouse of a person who suffers from addiction may struggle to remain in the relationship due to the way addiction affects their loved one.
- Conflicts with children: People with SUD often argue with their children. Children may come to disregard their parental authority or become afraid of them.
- Other family conflicts: Parents of adult children with addiction may have to become the guardians of their grandchildren. The adult children of people suffering from addiction may have to help keep a roof over their parents’ heads. Siblings of individuals who suffer from addiction may struggle to avoid enabling behaviors.
- Unstable home environment: Alcohol or drug use can cripple a person’s parenting skills. It can cause good hygiene practices to dissipate. Cleanliness and regular home management may become less of a priority to an individual suffering from addiction. The entire family unit can be impacted by these changes within the home.
- Domestic violence: Unfortunately, addiction can cause negative changes in a person’s behavior. People who suffer from addiction may become physically violent or verbally abusive to their family members.
- Changes in family dynamics: Families dealing with the impact of drug or alcohol abuse may experience emotional and psychological challenges. Members may become distant from one another.
- Health consequences: Individuals who suffer from drug or alcohol abuse may develop physical health problems. This can affect the whole family as members will likely experience changes in family roles. For instance, family members may become caretakers of an addicted person.
- Adolescent substance abuse: Children of people suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse may begin to seek comfort in substance use.
Family therapists can help families to work through these negative effects of substance abuse. With the help of family therapists, people can resolve family conflict and address their challenges together. Also, through a functional family therapy program, individuals can receive family support, which is often a necessary component of a successful recovery.
Addressing Codependency in Family Therapy
There are ways that family members contribute to their loved one’s problems without even knowing it. When one member of a family is addicted and the others aren’t, the idea of codependency arises. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) indicates that codependency is being overly concerned with the problems of another person to the point where you neglect your own wants and needs. Codependent people have several patterns of behavior:
- They may be very controlling because they don’t believe the addict can take care of themself.
- Codependents usually have low self-esteem and tend to deny their feelings.
- They are overly submissive and will jeopardize their integrity and values to avoid anger or rejection.
- Frequently, they will react in an overly sensitive manner and are excessively watchful for disruption, troubles, or disappointments.
- They stay loyal to people who don’t do anything to deserve it.
An addiction family therapist can help substance abusers and their families to work through the issue of codependency. With the help of evidence-based treatment options, a family therapist can help people to discover harmful behaviors or tendencies. This will enable families to move forward on the road to recovery.