Addiction is something that can affect everyone, not just someone suffering from it. Yes, addiction is toughest on the addict themselves, but this doesn’t mean that other people aren’t affected too. It’s a disease that can affect the entire family. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency calls it a “family disease”. This disease can affect the entire family on many different levels. Families often try to solve the problem of addiction within the privacy of their own home, but this isn’t always the right way to do it.
Trying to “fix” the addict without professional help can even further the drug dependency the addict has. This can cause the person to become distant, stressed, misunderstood, and judged if their family tries to “fix” them. This approach is not always the best way to handle a case of addiction; what these families need is therapy during addiction recovery. This form of therapy helps the addict recover from their addiction, heal the bond with the family, and promote openness in the dynamic. In the blog, we will discuss what family therapy is and how it can help heal both the family and the addict.
Recovery Without Family Therapy?
There is no shortage of families that have members that suffer from addiction. Over 20 million people in the U.S., 12 years or older, suffer from some sort of substance abuse. There is a good chance many families have members that suffer from the same issue. As we discussed, families often try and have an intervention with their loved one to fight back against the addiction. The problem with this is it’s difficult to make this work towards the benefit of the family. More often than not, we see people develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. One of the most common is walking on eggshells around the recovering addict as a way to avoid any possible behavior that may result in a relapse. This is by no means healthy. It creates a stressful and fragile family dynamic; it can only do more harm than good.
Addiction Within The Family
When a family has a member that suffers from addiction, it can bring about a lot of negative effects. Some of the most common issues other members suffer from are negative emotions like guilt, stress, and anxiety. A family may feel as though they have something to do with a person’s addiction. Some even get a sense of stress and anxiety if their loved one is out of their sight. Their mind may jump straight to negative conclusions when it comes to their whereabouts. Another thing that happens in families that suffer from addiction is communication breakdown. Addicts often start to feel alone and may break most of their communication with their loved ones. This can be due to many things like stress, lack of understanding, fear of judgment or overbearing family members. It’s important for families to be open, honest, and judgement-free when it comes to addiction recovery. When an addict feels misunderstood or judged, they may feel alone and chose to suffer in silence. Being alone like this can only further the addictive habits they have been suffering from.
Family therapy puts a strong emphasis on the dynamic inside and outside of rehabilitation. Yes, family therapy during rehabilitation is important, but using it after rehabilitation is just as important. A former addict is going to go through many stressful and difficult situations in life that will encourage them to fall right back into their addictive behaviors. To best fight against this, family therapy is often continued after rehab. This therapy can ensure long term sobriety and a healthy dynamic. Family therapy helps the former addict and all other members develop healthy coping mechanisms, better communication, and understanding.
Not only does the person going through recovery need help and support, so do loved ones. Family therapy can help each member be supportive of one another to ensure the person in recovery can achieve long-term sobriety. This form of therapy can help mend the bond between members that was damaged by addiction. Taking matters into your own hands almost never pans out the way you’d expect it to. Intervention can sometimes do more harm than good. Family therapy sessions are much better for families who are struggling with addiction. This form of therapy can create a sense of openness between members, allowing each one to voice how addiction affects them. This gives everyone a voice, even the person suffering from addiction. This can create a more understanding environment, one that promotes acceptance and understanding. Family therapy is all about opening up and voicing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. By doing this, everyone can understand each other and heal together.
Family therapy can accomplish for someone seeking long-term sobriety, but this can only happen if a person is willing to acknowledge and accept the fact that they suffer from substance abuse. The first step in addiction recovery is acceptance. When they are able to accept the fact that they suffer from substance abuse, they can seek help and mend the bond back together with family therapy. Love, support, and patience are all things that each family member will learn in this form of therapy. Some other things each member will learn are as follows:
- Communication styles used within the family structure, as well as by each individual member
- Any past issues relating to trauma, abuse, etc.
- Genetic predisposition family-wide relating to drug or alcohol abuse
- Unresolved issues and resentments among members
- Understanding and processing the nature of why the addict did what they did during addiction
- Objectives moving forward
- And much more!
These are all very important things to tackle in family therapy. With a good dynamic, an addict can have an easier time achieving long-term sobriety. Through family therapy, each member can open up and discuss how addiction affects them. This can help mend the bond that was broken through substance abuse. Family therapy during addiction recovery is essential for someone looking to get sober.
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