Family Therapy in the Treatment of Addiction
Addiction affects more than just the individual who abuses drugs or alcohol; the self-destructive behaviors of substance abusers can tear apart even the strongest families. A good rehabilitation facility recognizes that the support of loved ones can help recovery while strained family relationships can hinder it. Therefore, family involvement, in the form of family therapy, is important to addiction treatment to mend the damage done.
What is “Family”?
The term “family” is not necessarily limited to blood relatives. Family therapy can be useful even when people are unrelated, such as significant others or friends. These individuals may choose to take part in this therapeutic approach when appropriate.
While substance abusers can be in recovery without any family involvement, having the support of loved ones is preferable. Few families are perfect; it is the support itself, rather than flawless family dynamics, that can be an amazing benefit for a person struggling with addiction who wants to pursue rehabilitation.
Goals of Family Therapy
Family therapy is a group treatment style with two primary objectives. Firstly, to use the family’s strongest points to provide solutions for how to best help the person in recovery stay clean and sober. Secondly, to heal relationships between the individual in recovery and family members, given the damaging impact of addiction and changes involved in successfully getting through the stages of recovery.
While family support is helpful to a person in recovery during a stay at a residential rehabilitation facility, it is equally beneficial for when recovering substance users return home. When returning to the real world after a residential stay, a person in recovery must leave behind old bad habits and embrace a new lifestyle free of drugs or alcohol.
This transition can be emotionally overwhelming, and the support of family can make all the difference to staying on the sober path. A partner or parent, for example, may notice warning signs of a potential relapse because of information learned during family therapy that they can apply in the current situation to help the recovering loved one.
Also, family stress can trigger a relapse. When family relations improve, the recovery process can be smoother.
Family Therapy within a Comprehensive Plan
Family therapy is typically only one part of the treatment plan. It can be used in conjunction with individual therapy, group therapy , holistic healing approaches such as yoga, and residential rehab programs, to name just some of the options available. In other words, participating in family therapy does not mean forgoing other treatment activities.