Whether you, a spouse, or a relative suffer from substance abuse or addiction, you may have noticed how it affects your entire family. If so, you don’t have to struggle alone. Caring professionals are here to help your family recover from drug or alcohol addiction. Northern Illinois Recovery Center offers 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 reforming bonds thanks to a family therapy program

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 ones who are willing to participate. 

While individual therapy focuses on the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions of one person, family therapy explores the relationships and tries to understand the experiences of all the family members. The four most important parts of family therapy are:

  1. Family Engagement: Improving family members’ involvement. Family engagement interventions usually happen during the first stage of treatment. It is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist.
  2. Relational Reframing: This is made up of interventions meant to move from individual ways of defining a problem and developing solutions toward understanding that is focused on relationships.
  3. Changing Family Behavior: The goal is to adjust the behavior of the family members by teaching new skills and encouraging individual changes in behavior.
  4. Family Restructuring: Changing the way the family system is governed, shifting basic beliefs and family rules is the goal.

Substance Abuse is a Family Disease

If you feel your entire family is being affected by substance abuse, 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, as well as your finances. However, you don’t have to feel helpless. There is hope through counseling, therapy, and support from licensed professionals that want to see your family thrive as you reclaim your home 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, treatment programs for individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) have better outcomes if their family or close associates 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. Family members may continue their enabling and dysfunctional behaviors as a result.

Effects of Substance Use Disorder on Family and Friends

It used to be that family members were blamed for the addiction problem in a family. But later theories confirmed that the stress brought about by being in a relationship with a person with an active addiction. Now there is universal knowledge that the negative consequences of drug addiction particularly impacts families. Here are ten effects of SUD on the family:

  1. Jealousy–People with SUD frequently have jealousy issues, whether it’s friends, partners, other family members, or other people in their life.
  2. Partner conflicts–Addicts will have arguments or give the “silent treatment” to their partner. They become distant because they put their addiction first.
  3. Conflicts with children–People with SUD often argue with their children. Children may come to disregard their parental authority or become afraid of them.
  4. Conflicts over money–The family may be financially struggling because of a lost job, taking time off work, or making bad financial choices. Many times, the household money is going towards the addiction.
  5. Emotional trauma–Addicts often cause emotional difficulties for their family by belittling, insulting, yelling, or manipulating.
  6. Family violence–Addicts can become violent, or their family members may become violent with them. This includes hitting, slapping, smashing and throwing objects.
  7. Cheating–Because substance abusers often become distant from their partners, they tend to find satisfaction through internet sex, pornography, or prostitution. Many gravitate to other addicts who “understand” them.
  8. Separation–The consequences of addictive behavior are often separation, divorce, and isolation from other family members, particularly children.
  9. Bad example–The example that an addict sets will influence their children, partner, and other members of the family. Children who grow up around substance abuse are at a higher risk of becoming addicts themselves.
  10. Health effects–Being under the influence of drugs can impair judgment and cause harm and neglect of family members. Drinking while pregnant can damage a baby’s brain, and smoking can cause problems from secondhand smoke including lung cancer.

Are You Codependent?

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.

What Is Learned in Family Therapy?

In family therapy sessions, everyone gets the chance to express their feelings in a safe environment. With the help of a family counselor, difficult feelings and confrontations can be worked through in a constructive way. During active addiction, people don’t realize that working out problems and finding solutions is possible. In therapy, you will focus on:


Rules you set that define what you will and won’t tolerate are called boundaries. They also describe how you’ll react when your boundaries are crossed.

Healthy Communication

Communication is a vital part of moving ahead into a healthier future. People with SUD tend to lose the ability to communicate effectively.

Balancing Positivity and Accountability

Although it’s important to be positive and improve honesty, accountability is just as important. It’s important to identify faults and areas where work still needs to be done while still having a sense of achievement. As the family member of a person with SUD, you can help them by exhibiting this behavior yourself.

Addiction Education

The educational aspect of family therapy is one of its most effective parts. For many people, learning about addiction helps them understand the meanings of their actions. Parents, spouses, and close friends of a person with SUD can help them by learning about addiction. Therapy helps you gain an understanding of what they’re going through.

How a Family Therapy Program Can Help You

Alcoholism or drug addiction can create a complicated dynamic that affects every family member in different ways. Some members will last out. Others will withdraw. One thing is certain, however: Everyone is affected by the addiction.

Northern Illinois Recovery Center offers a family therapy program that includes different types of therapy and counseling so that each member of your family can heal and recover in their own unique way.

Some of our treatment programs include:

  • Experiential therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Mindfulness-based treatment

These programs are designed to help the addict overcome their dependency while providing complete support and counseling for the family. Everyone has the opportunity to address issues, discuss their problems, and find the path to recovery together.

Dual Diagnosis Therapy

One of the things your family may discover through therapy is that other factors are triggering the drug or alcohol addiction. When mental health concerns present simultaneously as a substance use disorder, and individuals are said to have a co-occurring disorder, this kind of disorder requires dual diagnosis treatment. It’s important to have a program that can treat the disorders at the same time. In our program, we can treat the following mental health concerns that appear alongside addiction:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • PTSD

If so, dual diagnosis treatment can address both the dependency and psychiatric conditions that trigger the addiction. Through dual diagnosis, your family can understand why the addiction is happening and what is causing it.

A qualified professional can provide a dual diagnosis and recommend the right therapy, including full family addiction counseling. When your family is involved in dual diagnosis, each member can learn what is happening inside the addict and provide support for psychiatric disorders or illnesses.

Family Therapy for Addiction

We offer an array of family addiction counseling and family addiction therapy services that target your family’s specific situation and provide the appropriate treatment for everyone involved. No matter what you are going through or how severe the addiction is, you have the support you need to grow together and create a healthy home once again.

Find Your Loved One the Help They Need

At Northern Illinois Recovery, we understand that no “one size fits all” treatment is available. That is why we work with you and your loved one to figure out what method will resonate best. In addition to offering all therapies mentioned above, we’re also huge advocates participating in a family therapy program. To find out more about our family therapy program, give us a call today. Start your path to a happier, healthier life beyond alcohol or drug addiction.