Addiction does not happen in a bubble. It is a disease that takes hold of everything and everyone around it. This is why substance abuse treatment and family therapy often go hand in hand. Families of addicts need support too.
While the exact cause of addiction remains unknown, sometimes the family environment can be a risk factor for someone developing this disease. That is why the whole family should be involved with the recovery journey.
Too often, addiction makes the sufferer almost unrecognizable to the people in their life. It destroys relationships as surely as it destroys the person’s health. Fortunately, through family therapy and recovery, this vicious cycle can end. Here we will discuss the importance of family addiction counseling and the different treatments you can expect.
Ready to find help for your family? Give us a call today at (385) 327-7418, and we can help your family find the perfect treatment center.
Read on to find out more about how addiction affects families and how we can help you deal with the fallout.
Why Addiction Impacts the Family
Addiction is a complex disease, and understanding how it impacts the addict is important to understand how it can lead to tension for the entire family. If your loved one faces an addiction, you may not realize that addiction is more than just a lack of willpower or a “bad decision.” Drugs and alcohol have dramatic effects on the brain. When these substances are misused, they can completely rewire how the user looks, behaves, and feels.
So, how does addiction happen? Addiction causes a variety of chemical changes in your loved one’s brain. According to DrugAbuse.gov, “our brains are wired to increase the odds that we will repeat pleasurable activities. The neurotransmitter dopamine is central to this. Drugs produce much larger dopamine surges, powerfully reinforcing the connection between consumption of the drug, the resulting pleasure, and all the external cues linked to the experience. Large surges of dopamine “teach” the brain to seek drugs at the expense of other, healthier goals and activities.”
As you may know, drug addiction can have a powerful hold on a person’s life. Addicts exist in a toxic cycle that makes everyday pleasures far less appealing to them. The toxic cycle of addiction means their important relationships, like family, often become very strained.
Addiction can also play a part in increasing other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Thus, a lot of the strain you may face dealing with your addicted loved one can be attributed to the internal war addiction creates. It can be not easy but now more than ever, and they need a strong support system. The realities of addiction are why substance abuse treatment and family therapy can be so beneficial.
Other Impacts of Addiction on Family
Here are some of the other ways substance abuse may impact your family:
Strained finances: addiction can be costly to the individual and the entire family.
Lack of boundaries: addiction can force the whole family into behaviors they would not normally exhibit. A lack of boundaries may look like a mother giving money to her addicted son or siblings hiding evidence of their brother/sister’s substance misuse.
Abuse: drug or alcohol use can also lead to abusive behaviors. Abuse is a devastating side effect of addiction that makes therapy especially important.
Divorce: addiction can also create permanent damage to relationships, leading to results like divorce.
ABCs of Family Therapy
What else should you know about substance abuse treatment and family therapy? Family is a web of different, but interconnected individuals. What impacts one person in a family, impacts the entire family. Through family therapy, families can work to pinpoint this change and find healing.
According to The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (NAABT), “family therapy in substance abuse treatment has two main purposes. First, it seeks to use the family’s strengths and resources to help find or develop ways to live without substances of abuse. Second, it ameliorates the impact of chemical dependency on both the individual and the family.”
Family therapy aims to reverse the damage addiction has done. The main reason it is effective is its multidimensional approach. Family therapy focuses on more than just substance abuse. It also tackles co-occurring issues that exist within the family dynamic. This may include other family strains like mental health disorders, financial insecurity, and child mistreatment.
Too often addiction can result in isolation, enabling behaviors, or even more severe consequences. By proactively addressing the issues that come with addiction, the addict can better focus on their sobriety. Family therapy is an important part of the recovery journey and can change the family dynamic for the better.
The Importance of Family Addiction Counseling
Family therapy for substance abuse offers a wide range of benefits to the entire family. Family therapy for addiction can help eliminate the financial strain many families deal with. Often, addiction can make it hard for the addicted individual to find jobs, or it may even keep them in and out of jail. This cycle is part of what can take an economic toll on the family, and why therapy can be so helpful.
Addiction can become the center of a family’s life and bring an immense amount of stress and tension. Everyone in the family has to adjust in a new way to the behaviors caused by addiction. Fortunately, therapy can help facilitate discussions that combat these effects. It can help the family refocus on the needs of the whole rather than the weight of addiction. Plus, it can help reestablish healthy boundaries that incorporate loving support.
The National Institutes of Health writes that “a reason that family therapy is effective in substance abuse treatment is that it provides a neutral forum in which family members meet to solve problems. Such a rational venue for expression and negotiation often is missing from the family lives of people with a substance problem.”
Addiction often causes breakdowns in communication. It can be like speaking two different languages and wondering why the other person is not understanding you. Furthermore, the behaviors addiction brings about often are out of the individual’s control. Therapy is the most effective way we have of addressing many of these issues. It allows a controlled and safe space for families to express themselves. Plus, family therapy is especially impactful for youth.
The Benefits of Family Therapy for Youth
If you have children or teens that face addiction, family therapy can be particularly beneficial for them. Let’s take a look at why it can be such a benefit:
Family-centered treatment engages the whole family which can make an isolated child feel far less alone.
For teens that may have negative behaviors, the family-based treatment also provides them with direct supervision from at least one parent along with the treatment facilitators.
Family therapy for addiction also can address issues your child may be facing with school or work.
According to DrugAbuse.gov, “research shows that family-based treatments are highly efficacious, especially for teens; some studies even suggest they are superior to other individual and group treatment approaches.”
Seeking treatment for adolescent drug abuse is a benefit to the entire family. There is a wide variety of options for your family to choose from.
The Different Types of Family Therapies
Now, what are some of the options your family has for therapy? Here are some of the most common:
Family Behavioral Therapy (FBT) helps individuals in treatment find coping skills that combat the triggers associated with addiction. FBT also shows families how to deal with co-occurring mental disorders (i.e., depression or anxiety). Furthermore, this form of therapy rewards positive behaviors that help undo the cycle of negative behavior that addiction so often results in. The addiction counselor will likely use motivational incentives to reinforce positive behavior.
Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) features both family sessions and separate sessions for the teen in treatment and their guardian. The therapist often works with the addicted teen’s school and other life areas to help them readjust after treatment.
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is a form of family therapy that is intensive in comparison to others. MST concentrates on the entirety of factors that influence a person’s substance abuse behaviors. Similar to MDFT, this therapy also deals with other everyday systems such as neighborhoods and schools.
MST is a flexible approach: it can be done in places like their home or school. This is great particularly for youth dealing with substance misuse because it combines therapy with the institutions they interact with every day. Another perk is that the family has 24/7 access to the therapist.
As you can see, there are various options to look into in terms of treatment for your family. You may have to have tough conversations with doctors, employers, or other family members, but it is more than worth it in the end.
The Next Steps for Your Family
If your family is facing turmoil due to addiction, know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Neither you nor your family is forever bound to the destruction addiction has caused. As sad a disease as it is, healing is always possible. While ensuring that the addict gets the help they need is a high priority, making sure the family remains intact is also important.
You may think your involvement does not matter to their recovery or may even feel like you are at your wit’s end, but seeing your loved one recovered is worth the trouble. Individuals battling addiction need people around them that will encourage them to get and stay sober. You cannot micromanage their lives, but you can become a healthy traveling companion as they embark on this journey through therapy. It is much more beneficial to fight through a period of tension than a lifetime of pain.
Showing love and support is not always easy, especially with the complex emotions addiction can bring to everyone in the family. Fortunately, it is not a situation you or your family has to deal with alone. You can make a change in your family today. While the recovery battle will certainly be bumpy at times, your family will come out of it even stronger than before.
If you are ready to restore your family, learn how to establish healthy boundaries, or get your loved one into treatment—we can help! Give us a call today at (385) 327-7418.