Family Therapy for Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. David Hu, MD on 08/30/2022
Dr. Hu is a nationally licensed psychiatrist with 21 years of experience treating mental and behavioral health.
By: Zinnia Healing Editorial Staff | Edited By: Rebecca Hill | Medically Reviewed by: Dr. David Hu, MD
Addiction treatment cannot be completed solely by the patient. Behind every successful rehabilitation story, there are doctors and therapists as well as a support network of friends and family. Just as friends and family are there to support their loved ones through recovery, they are recovering themselves from the effects their loved one’s addiction had on their lives and relationships.
For this reason, family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery is popular. It can help mend relationships and provide external support in the long run. Family therapy can be beneficial to both the addict and the loved ones who have endured the difficulties associated with addiction. It can be an opportunity to uncover the real reasons behind addiction and bring issues to the table to be openly addressed.
Family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery can be the first step in the healing process, and it could also be the first step to rebuilding a new, sober life today.
How Does Family Therapy Work?
Family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery includes a multitude of therapeutic approaches to address living in the presence of drug and alcohol addiction as well as specific aspects of parenting, possible abuse, conflict, and economic strain. Because family therapy is especially important in increasing the likelihood of successful long-term recovery after inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment, substance use education also plays a large part.
If family members can identify signs and symptoms of relapse and provide a safe, stable environment at home for their loved one going through treatment, it is less likely that their loved one will use again as they will have others holding them accountable for their actions and, after treatment, will have a safe, loving space to return to.
Most family therapists view addiction as a symptom of family dysfunction. In other words, the whole family unit undergoes stress when one of the members is struggling.
In this case, one member would be going through the rehabilitation process. Based on this model, it is important that the entire immediate family of the individual participate in the recovery process, as they are affected by it as well.
The Four Aspects of Family Therapy
The Partnership to End Addiction has condensed this model of family therapy into its four most integral parts:
For many, addiction is an uncomfortable topic of discussion. When an individual is in recovery from addiction, close family members often feel as though they have already failed and will have given up on being a source of healing for their loved one. In this case, intervention is necessary. Parents attending family therapy must be reassured by the therapist that their presence is necessary for the recovery process and that they must listen to their loved one and empathize with their experiences.
On the other hand, the patient must also understand that their parents are there to help them get through it, not bring them back to how their addiction felt at home. Family engagement is the beginning of the conversation involving both parties in the recovery process.
Rather than focusing on the individual roots of problems, family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery often emphasizes the importance of relationships. For example, instead of focusing on one parent yelling at their child for coming home late, focusing on the idea that they are yelling because they worry about their child’s safety is more beneficial for all parties.
This also applies to substance use—rather than placing all the blame of addiction on the child, family therapy will emphasize the root causes of the addiction and remove some of the blame from internal to external.
Family Behavior Change
Family behavior change instils new ways for family members to interact with each other. Obviously, changes depend on individual family dynamics, but they can usually be centered upon communication, enforcing rules and limits and giving each other room to express how they are feeling.
In other words, reshaping the environment that once allowed for addiction to thrive into an environment where the root causes of it can be spoken about openly and addressed appropriately.
Family restructuring attacks the core beliefs and rules of the family. Hand in hand with family behavior change, family restructuring shifts destructive family dynamics into ones that are conducive to recovery in a healthy environment.
For example, if the family’s culture involved not speaking openly about personal problems and instead internalizing these issues, restructuring can help break down those barriers and establish an environment that encourages speaking openly.
Therapeutic Approaches to Family Therapy
There are many ways to offer family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Therapeutic interventions allow addicts to see how their actions have affected their families while simultaneously allowing each family member to see how their actions have impacted the cycle of substance use.
Therapeutic interventions allow addicts and their loved ones to establish communication and slowly begin to rebuild the trust that was lost by both parties during the phase of addiction. Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can also help by providing families of addicts with the knowledge they need to deal with the patient’s addiction. For example, learning how to identify self-destructive behaviors and discover which communication methods are helpful and which may be harmful instead.
By establishing a way for both addicts and their loved ones to communicate again and rebuild their relationships, those suffering from addiction are much more likely to stay sober. Through open discussion and communication. Family therapy can help each member of the family better understand where the addiction stems from and how they can work together to prevent a relapse. One therapeutic approach to family therapy for substance use patients is the notion of the family system. Rather than looking at addiction as the individual’s problem, family therapy aims to help all members involved that every one of their actions may play a role in the patient’s addiction.
Understanding that the family is interdependent on one another can help each person identify behaviors that have contributed to the addiction problem. Substance use may be a result of the dysfunction within the family and each member’s actions affect the others. Sometimes, there are subconscious behaviors and actions that create a ripple effect for one individual in the family.
If you or a loved one suffers from addiction, call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.
Different Types of Family Therapy
Family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery can be achieved in multiple ways. A family therapist will explore different methods to see which one is best for each family. Many types of therapy can be used to provide full, well-rounded treatment to the addict and their loved ones.
Each type of family therapy can serve a different purpose in the healing process and help bring the family from one step to the next. Each small step in the right direction is a step closer to recovering from addiction.
Multidimensional Family Therapy
This type of therapy is very common with adolescent patients. It involves allowing addicts to receive therapy with their family as well as individually. This can allow the therapist to address behavioral or emotional problems within the adolescent addict. The therapist will then offer the family some individual therapy to help them work on their own addictions or toxic behaviors and to offer parenting skills. This is particularly helpful for parents who aren’t sure how to deal with a struggling addict in the appropriate way.
This type of therapy focuses on the solution to behavioral issues within the family. Instead of drawing attention to the issues that have eroded the relationships within the family, the therapy sessions are centered on how to improve in the future.
Multifamily Group Therapy
Meeting with other families and learning about their struggles can help other families feel less alone. Each family can learn from the other and identify triggering behaviors in others which will, in turn, help them better identify those same behaviors within themselves. The goal is to provide support, help families feel heard and ultimately, help recovering addicts see other families are dealing with the very same issues they are.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery is widely available in the realm of addiction recovery centers. Most inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as private practices, offer family therapy as it has become an important part of the recovery process.
Participating families will receive education from licensed therapists and addiction professionals. When accompanied by the four core aspects of family therapy above, addiction education is extremely effective in creating a stable, supportive environment for the individual struggling from addiction once they are home.
Understanding Toxic Behaviors (On Both Sides)
The benefits of family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery are numerous. Family therapy for drug and alcohol addiction recovery can begin by helping family members understand their own toxic actions or behaviors, the pitfalls of their family dynamic, and how their actions can be improved to benefit everyone, including the loved one suffering from addiction.
Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can also help rebuild trust between loved ones. Whether trust was lost because of the addiction or due to family behaviors, trust can be regained if both parties are open and willing to discuss. The help of a qualified family therapist can help each member of the family get to the bottom of their feelings and work toward building a new and improved relationship with one another.
Developing solid communication techniques is another benefit of effective family therapy. Communication barriers can make it difficult to repair or sustain loving relationships and can make addiction worse for a loved one. Proper communication is key to understanding the addiction crisis in your family and can finally help to mend some fences.
Forgiving Past Wrongs
Forgiveness is a tough concept for many suffering from addiction of the addictions of a loved one. This may stem from a lack of proper communication or an inability to share their honest feelings. Family therapy for substance use addiction recovery can help both the addict and their loved ones learn to forgive and move forward.
Family therapy is also important for helping each member of the family identify their feelings and learn to deal with them appropriately. Some may feel anger, while others are dealing with resentment or frustration. Learning how to identify these feelings and how to function with them properly can help mend the family dynamic and begin the healing process.
Another benefit to seeking family therapy for substance use addiction recovery is that it allows each member of the family to understand the patient’s battle with addiction on a deeper level. Why is this person afflicted? Why can’t they stop? How can I help them to get and stay sober? These are questions all loved ones of substance use patients consider day after day and there is no simple answer to any of them. Family therapy for substance abuse addiction recovery is a long process but it can open the door to the first real path to communication and understanding. Knowing what each person is dealing with can help all family members empathize with each other.
Improving communication within the family as well as agreeing on boundaries and regaining trust allow the family unit to strengthen and work together to defeat the substance use plaguing their lives. The key to a successful recovery is not just about the person who is battling addiction. Recovery from addiction is often a family journey that can open the door to healing and moving forward.
Together, each family can work to create a stable and loving atmosphere to help the loved one who is suffering find their way out of their addiction.
Call Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 for more information.