Family involvement is necessary for everyone, but especially for the addicted. If you have a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, chances are you know all too well that addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is addicted.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence calls addiction a “family disease,” because it has an indelible effect on everyone in the family. It leads to stress, interrupted routines and sometimes chaos, and these contribute to emotional and behavioral problems and promote dysfunction within the family system.
Just as your family is affected by your loved one’s addiction, you also play a vital and complex role in his or her recovery, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The Benefits of Family Involvement in Recovery
Your family involvement in your loved one’s recovery may help improve his or her motivation level and engagement during treatment, and it reduces the risk of relapse afterward in a number of ways. Families who are involved in their loved one’s treatment receive essential education about addiction, and they learn how the addiction has affected the family system.
They identify and work to curb enabling or codependent behaviors that can affect the long-term success of recovery, and they learn how to best support their loved one once treatment is complete.
Family Therapy During Treatment
Family therapy is an essential part of addiction treatment. Its goal is to deconstruct the family system and alter unhealthy patterns of communication and behavior to help restore function, repair damaged relationships and rebuild trust. Without family therapy, certain patterns of dysfunction will remain unchanged.
It takes more than identifying unhealthy codependent and enabling behaviors to change them. To do so requires delving deeply into the complexities of the family unit and exploring the interdependent relationships among family members.
Individual Therapy and Support Groups for Family Members
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence also recommends individual therapy for each affected family member, including children, who are perhaps the most negatively affected by addiction. Individual therapy helps you and other family members work through your resentment, anger, fear and other destructive emotions.
Through individual therapy, you will examine your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors more closely and learn to replace these with ways of thinking and behaving that will help lead to healthier functioning within the family system.
Support groups are also essential for family members during recovery. A support group can also help you stay on top of new research in the field of addiction and recovery as well as learn about resources that can help your loved one and your family heal for the long-term.