FaMother consoling her teenage daughterWhen a loved one is caught up in the cycle of addiction, it can affect the whole family and cause problems that seem like they’ll never go away. Luckily, attending a rehab center with a family therapy program can help you rebuild trust and communication and develop boundaries that help protect people’s sense of well-being. 

Family members’ attitude can have a huge impact on the recovery process, and many of the individuals who achieve long-term recovery have a close-knit support network. That doesn’t mean family members are necessary for success — but if they’re invested in your well-being and want to help, there are plenty of ways they can make a difference. Read on to find out what happens in family therapy sessions and discover the role of family in addiction recovery.  

Are Substance Use Disorders Family Diseases?

One of the main reasons family support can be so important for recovery from addiction (in combination with professional care from a treatment center) is that the condition is a family disease. When you have a close relationship with someone, you’re emotionally invested in their well-being. And when they’re sick or unhappy, it can have a domino effect on your wellness. 

In extreme cases, this can be a sign of codependency, which is when loved ones are overly invested in each other to the extent that they neglect their own well-being. Just like many things in life, it’s a careful balance between caring too much and not enough. 

The complex nature of interpersonal relationships means it’s often a huge challenge for family members to untangle themselves from each other and find healthy ways to communicate and move forward. Working with a professional counselor provides the professional guidance necessary to find practical, long-term solutions.

Mental Health, Drug Abuse and Upbringing

The biggest question family members tend to ask themselves when a loved one is addiction — particularly parents — is whether they’re to blame. It’s important to address this feeling if it arises and conduct some research into the causes of addiction. Put simply, there are multiple factors that contribute to someone developing a substance use disorder. While family and upbringing can play a role, that’s never the full story.

Many people who have terribly traumatic childhoods don’t go on to develop a drug or alcohol addiction, and lots of addicted people had a so-called fairy-tale upbringing. As such, it’s impossible to draw direct causation and say that any one person, event or relationship is responsible. A mixture of genetic, social, environmental and personality factors has an influence on addiction — and there’s still more for science to work out.   

That said, a toxic family environment makes it very difficult for someone to recover and might increase the chance of relapse. Words are powerful, and the way we speak to each other influences how we feel about ourselves. Love, empathy and respect in the family group are essential to good mental health.

Family Dynamics Influence Behavior

mother and father consoling daughterWhile no one is to blame for addiction, there are behaviors you can minimize or maximize to make the process run more smoothly. For example, if someone in a household raises their voice regularly and it’s a trigger for another family member, your family unit should make it a priority to amend that behavior. 

Actions such as shouting, being overly critical and not respecting someone’s boundaries are usually learned behaviors, not a sign of a bad person. However, they can be damaging to the mental health of the people around you. No matter what age you are or how set in your ways you think you are, therapy can help anyone unlearn unhelpful behaviors. Your family will enjoy a more peaceful, harmonious life as a result!

Just as negative actions influence the behavior of the entire family, so do positive ones. Taking steps to talk about your feelings in a calm manner is essential, and being open about what bothers you all as a family without being confrontational is the key to a happy unit. Taking steps in the right direction takes time, and an experienced therapist can guide you through.  

How Does Family Support Affect Drug Addiction Recovery?

Taking the above examples into consideration, it seems obvious that an arguing family is less helpful in recovery than a family that communicates well. For some individuals, it can be a factor that makes or breaks them. 

People are often heavily invested in the way others see them, particularly those they’re closest to. Having a sensitive nature is one of the four personality factors that puts a person at risk of developing addiction. If one family member is highly sensitive and another is harsh and blunt, this can be an issue if the former has a predisposition to addiction. 

Family therapy helps everyone learn how to compromise and navigate relationships in ways that are most beneficial to the whole family.

Family Rehab Treatment Programs

When selecting a treatment program to attend, ensure the rehab offers family therapy sessions. If you’re a family member and you want to be as closely involved with your loved one’s recovery as possible, that’s awesome. The more involved loved ones are and the better they understand the process, the more supported the addicted family member will feel. 

Sometimes people feel embarrassed that they need help with interpersonal relationships, but no one ever should. There are no rule books or school classes that teach you how to function optimally as a family, and plenty of people need help.

Support Groups for the Entire Family

In addition to attending group therapy as a family, it can be a good idea for family members of addicted people to seek out sessions separately. Wives, mothers, siblings, husbands and dads often take on a lot of emotional strain while supporting someone who’s going through addiction, and groups such as Al-Anon can be life-changing.

Find Out About the Best Addiction Treatment Options

Family involvement can be a huge motivating factor in substance abuse treatment, but only if the relationships are constructive and clear boundaries are in place. If you’d like to find out more about rehab and family therapy, call Calusa Recovery today at 844-254-9664.