Anyone who knows someone with a substance use disorder knows that addiction affects the entire family. Addiction can quickly disrupt and create chaos within the family unit. When one member of the family struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, the rest of the system becomes negatively affected. One of the best ways to address this is through a family addiction program and family therapy sessions. These approaches give everyone involved the tools they need to practice self-care, the right skills to cope with the situation, and a plan to promote recovery.
Table of Contents
1. Improving Communication
It’s not uncommon for families to struggle with communication. In most cases, communication becomes non-existent. Most of the time, conversations in families with addiction problems are filled with anger, resentment, and shame. Having a therapist, family members can have a “moderator” that can help promote healthier conversations.
Family therapy helps the family learn communication skills that promote healing, how to manage tone to avoid triggers, and skills to use speaking in a way that makes others feel respected and understood.
Also, family therapy helps members understand their role in the addiction scenario. Sometimes family members are shocked to learn they’ve been acting as enablers, heroes, or victims within their family unit. Without noticing, these roles are significantly impacting the family and, in one or another, fueling the addiction process.
2. Rebuilding Trust
One of the most immediate consequences of addiction is broken trust. Most addicts become chronic liars to help sustain their addictions. Addicts will lie about their use, struggles, what they’re doing, and more. Not to mention, they often engage in lies that directly affect their family members—all of these actions damage trust.
Without the right help, rebuilding trust can be extremely difficult. In some cases, trust cannot be restored. With family therapy, members can have a safe and open space to honestly discuss their feelings, thoughts, and emotions in a way that promotes trust amongst one another.
Similar to couples therapy, the point of these sessions is to spark transparent conversations. While it takes time, patience, and the right tools, it’s possible to regain the family’s trust after addiction.
3. Learning How to Set Healthy Boundaries
One of the most essential self-care actions family members of addicts can do is learn how to set healthy boundaries. Sometimes known as “detaching with love,” these boundaries are incredibly important. Most of the time, family members struggling with substance use lack healthy boundaries; sometimes, these boundaries are non-existent, which promotes a toxic environment in the household.
A family therapist can help each family member figure out what healthy boundaries look like to them. Plus, they’ll learn how to enforce these boundaries and how to communicate them to the other members of the family. Boundaries are paramount for someone’s well being.
Instead of focusing on oneself, family members tend to put their needs aside just to keep their loved one’s drug abuse afloat. Therapy can help them learn how to develop a self-care practice that promotes their wellbeing and helps them strive for a more balanced lifestyle.
4. Ongoing Support
While it might seem like the addiction is a very selfish choice, the truth is that drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic disease. Without the ongoing support of family members, addiction recovery is an uphill battle. Once someone enters treatment, they’ll have access to group therapy sessions and support groups that will become cheerleaders of their recovery process. However, nothing compares to the support and care of their family.
However, it’s common for family members, especially those who suffered negative consequences of their loved one’s active addiction, to struggle with offering support. In many cases, family members don’t know how to be supportive, even more, if they don’t trust their loved one’s commitment to recovery.
Family therapy can help members understand their role in their loved one’s recovery process. By learning all the previous components, such as setting healthy boundaries and practicing self-care, family members can find the best way to support their loved ones. It can be tricky at first, but the ongoing support of family members is one of the most significant factors of long-term sobriety.
5. Preventing Relapse
It might sound absurd, but family therapy helps each member learn more about the family. When you receive the view of a third-party, or an “outsider,” you can learn much more about how your family interacts. Learning more about triggers, emotions, and other troubles help family members know how to react against specific situations.
While it might seem insignificant at first, the more you learn about your family members, the better equipped you’ll be to help prevent a relapse episode. Sometimes when a recovering addict is having a rough day, having a family member that understands their struggle can be the difference between staying sober and a relapse.
There’s no doubt family therapy can help everyone in many ways. Many treatment facilities offer regular family therapy sessions, and making an effort to attend can be extremely beneficial for your wellbeing and your loved one’s recovery process.
Getting Help Today
It’s not easy to live in a family unit that has a family member that suffers from addiction. Thankfully, through comprehensive treatment for substance abuse and family resources, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one needs help, don’t wait any longer, seek treatment today.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction therapists make it a priority to involve the family in every step of the recovery journey. We know how valuable having the support of the family unit can be toward recovery. Learn more about our addiction recovery program and family addiction program options today.