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Family Therapy

Family Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Abuse

When a person’s life spirals out of control due to drug and alcohol abuse, families usually recoup in one of the two ways.

  1. They either clean up and try to preview that everything is fine and in control
  2. They take measures to control the abuser and force him or her to stop

Drug and alcohol abuse affects many other people than just the person who abuses. The family members usually suffer from anger, uncertainty, shame, fear, confusion and feelings of helplessness. Even if the abusers decide to seek treatment, their addiction still takes its toll on their family and friends while they are getting sober. Even after the addict gets rid of his habit, the effects of drugs and alcohol abuse may linger. Here comes the role of family therapy.

What Happens in a Family Therapy?

Evidence based-research demonstrates that treatment of addiction must involve the entire family, so they can be managed as a unit. Therefore, the best treatment programs acknowledge the role of family on the mental and physical health of a person with drug and alcohol addiction.

While one-on-one counseling for addiction concentrates mainly on individuals’ addiction and how efficiently, they can manage it, family therapy will focus on the dynamics of relationships between the addicts and their family members. The major emphasis is on the system rather than individual issues. For example, in individual counseling, addicts discuss how being stressed at their jobs increases the cravings to use drug and alcohol. In family therapy, they get a chance to discuss how being stressed at work causes them to withdraw at home making the whole family feel angry and insecure, that in turn aggravates the stress. Family therapies help to learn the addicts and their family members that family is similar to a cobweb and picking one string from it can result in causing ripples throughout the extent of the entire web. It also helps to educate the family members about the nature of addiction and allow them to change along with the addicts, learning how the addiction has altered the way they consider things and the way they act.

Family therapy can be in a variety of forms, for example:

  • Private sessions including one or more family members and a therapist
  • Group sessions
  • Intensive education sessions with the families
  • Individual counseling sessions for children and spouses of recovering addicts
  • 12-step meetings for the families like Alateen and Al-Anon

Also, there are certain popular treatment models for family therapy in addiction recovery. Some of the most beneficial and widely used therapeutic models include the following:

  • Family Behavioral Therapy: This strategy has value for both adults and teens. It uses principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) i.e. to identify destructive thinking behaviors and patterns within the family members then teach how to restore those behaviors with positive activities that will support lifelong sobriety.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy: This strategy is the most suitable for adolescents and involves individual and family sessions in the home, the office, or the community. Individual sessions aid to improve communication, problem-solving, and decision-making skills. While the family sessions explore active styles of parenting and techniques to positively impact the drug and alcohol addiction treatment.
  • Structural or Strategic Therapy: This model focuses on recognizing and transforming the dynamics that foster addiction. Strategic therapy emphasizes strongly on helping the family members to set boundaries with the addicts and revamping communication.
  • Multifamily Groups: In this model, different families can meet each other every week, give insight into their own behaviors and realize that they are not alone in this difficult journey. Often, family members think that they are facing this difficult situation alone, and it can be of great help to learn that others have and are going through the same time. They oftentimes help and encourage each other.

It does not matter which model a therapist utilizes. The main objective is to improve how the family functions as a unit, creating both negative and positive aftermaths through interactions. Achieving positive end-results is the paramount goal of family therapy.

Primary Treatment Goals of Family Therapy:

Over time, many different trends of family therapy have evolved, but all the models have several common goals that include:

  • Increase in knowledge of interpersonal conflicts and family dynamics
  • Increase in knowledge of nature of addiction and how it impacts behaviors
  • Increase in knowledge of co-existing conditions like mental health problems
  • Sharing emotions with each other
  • Instill trust in one another
  • Transform guilt into forgiveness, stress to strength and anger to piece
  • Create an environment in the home that supports sobriety and health
  • Improve self-care

Continuing Your Addiction Recovery:

There is no clear-cut ‘end’ to the treatment of addiction. Families and addicts struggling with the effects of drug and alcohol abuse require continuing addiction recovery in the form of ongoing sessions for spouses, children and parents to attain a successful aftercare. Research shows that keeping family associated in the recovery of journey favors long-term success.

Getting the Most Out of Family Therapy:

Treatment of drug and alcohol addiction will not be fully effective unless everyone in the household cooperates in healthy ways and understands his or her role in the process. Regardless of the strategy of family therapy is used, the most potent way to maximize the success of the loved addict is to give hundred percent of your energy and take the following measures:

  • Attend every scheduled meeting to the best of your abilities
  • Make any needed changes at the home to encourage abstinence
  • Address honestly any of the enabling behaviors that might in any way nurture addiction
  • Ask for feedback and work on it genuinely

Taking part in family therapy is a crucial part of the recovery process. If drug and alcohol abuse has been negatively affecting your life and the life of your family members, it might be the time to engage in family therapy. By taking part in family therapy, you can create a substantial difference in the life of an addict along with enhancing your own wellbeing.