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Family Therapy


Family therapy can be a great resource when it comes to supporting an individual in need of addiction treatment. Not only is it important that families show their support for family members in need, addicts might also have underlying issues to deal with as well. Addiction is a family problem and it is not just an addict going through their problems on their own. Many times families are broken up, hurt, or lied to when it comes to compromising behavior in regards to substance abuse. Many times a co-dependency can form with couples or close family members. A codependency is a relationship in which a family member might take it upon themselves to try to fix or minimize destructive behaviors, but instead, enables the addiction even further.

Unfortunately, relapse is prevalent when it comes to the illness, and anything that family members can do to help and heal during the process will keep a person on the right path. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 40% to 60% of all recovering addicts will relapse at some point. Without the proper long term care support mechanisms in place, it can be much easier for an addict to slide back into addictive behaviors. If a recovering addict has a family that supports them and continues therapy as a group or individually, they will have a much higher rate of relapse prevention and awareness of addiction as a disease.

Addiction and the Family

Many times the perception of an addict is that they have a problem and that they have put this burden on their family members. It is seen as a lonely disease that only an addict is at fault for. In reality, many times family members are innocent participants in an addict’s fall into abuse. Family members might try to help an addict by giving them money, not turning addicts in for compromised behavior, and even sticking up for them in situations when an addict has done something wrong or illegal for their addiction. Family members will be left angry, betrayed, and feeling like they don’t have a purpose when an addict enters recovery. These emotions need to be brought up and dealt within family therapy.

Continued Care and Family Therapy

Family therapy is usually an integral part of an inpatient rehabilitation program. Family members can meet for therapy sessions to help the individual in recovery, but this process can also uncover that the entire family will need healing. This can begin as soon as a recovery addict has gone through detox and some initial therapy. The sooner families can come together to support one another, the stronger the recovery process will be.

If an addict is in recovery and is working through the stages of treatment, sometimes families will be there in the beginning, but then not hold up their end of the bargain or treatment. A recovering addict might feel as if their family members aren’t there for them, and without this support mechanism they might fall into relapse, starting the cycle again. The best way for a family dealing with addiction to do this is to go through the steps together and stick with counseling and support groups for themselves, and for the family member in recovery.

Family Members of Addiction

Addiction does not just affect an individual and their life, usually an entire family is involved in an individual’s addictive nature in some shape or form. This might be parents who bail out an addict, or steps in for them when they are in trouble. If an addict has children, they might have deep seated trauma from a parent not being there for them or for having to grow up faster and take care of themselves. Whatever emotional scarring or mistrust is left within a family unit, this needs to be addressed and uncovered in therapy. A common similarity that many families dealing with addiction have is a failure to communicate or the habit of minimizing problems. These patterns need to be addressed in ongoing therapy at Massachusetts rehabilitation centers so that family members learn how to be communicative with one another in an open and honest way.