Addiction is more than a disease that affects individuals, it affects the entire family. The stresses that families feel in dealing with a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse can reach a breaking point and can throw the entire family structure into chaos. Addiction impacts the stability of the home, the family’s mental and physical health, finances, and impacts how family members interact with each other as a whole. It is important that when a loved one undergoes drug treatment that the whole family becomes involved in the treatment process. The following are five reasons why family programs help addicts and their families heal and move forward in recovery.
1. Through Family Programming
Both the Addict and their Family Learn about the Disease of Addiction-Addiction is a complex disease which has deep roots and has many facets and causes. Among these causes include genetics, social and environmental factors, family dynamics as well as family history of substance use and abuse. Through family programs, experienced counselors can bring the addict and their family together to see how these factors have impacted their lives.
The addict can understanding the underlying roots of their addiction and how their actions have not only impacted their lives, but the lives of their family. The family of the addict will come to understand how their patterns of communication and interaction with their loved one contributed to their addiction. In family programs, the family is seen as a system with each part related to all other parts. Through counseling and therapy, both the addict and family can slowly rebuild those dysfunctional parts of the system and build a new system of interaction and communication that supports healthy relationships and recovery.
2. Family Programs Focus on Support
With family programming, both the addict and family learn they are not alone in regards to overcoming addiction. During drug treatment, the addict is encouraged to seek the support that is found in Twelve-Step groups such as AA and NA. These mutual self-help groups are made up of peers who are going through similar experiences and through their support and encouragement the addict can become empowered in their own recovery.
The family is also encouraged to seek out the support of groups such as Al-Anon, Alateen, Nar-Anon and Learn to Cope. These groups are for family members of addicts who share their knowledge, strength and hope in order to help them understand and overcome the disease of addiction. Ultimately, both the addict and family learn that the family unit itself is the best source of support. By understanding the disease of addiction and receiving the support through these self-help groups, both the addict and the family become empowered to make the necessary changes to move towards healthy relationships and communication that fosters long-term recovery for everybody.
3. Family Programs Help Stop Enabling and Other Manipulative Behaviors
Oftentimes families engage in behaviors that enable the disease of addiction in their loved ones, and many times they don’t realize they are doing so. Enabling can take on many forms, including
giving money to the addict, paying their rent and making excuses for their behavior. During family programming, counselors will bring awareness to these behaviors and will allow families to acknowledge how they helped perpetuate their loved one’s addiction.
In addition to focusing on enabling behaviors, family programming will also focus on other behaviors that can provide roadblocks in recovery. These behaviors include blaming, rationalizing, minimizing the addiction and denial. These methods of coping with addiction are ineffective and also contribute to a loved one’s drug and alcohol problems. Ultimately, counselors in family programs will help the addict and their family recognize their roles in regards to the addiction of a loved one and help them build healthier coping and communication skills that will help the overall family unit.
4. Family Programs Help Build Resilience
For families that experience drug and alcohol addiction, they go through a roller coaster of emotions that significantly impacts the physical and mental well-being of each family member. For each family member, they may feel as though they are powerless in dealing with a family member’s addiction and as a whole the family unit can suffer. A major goal of family counseling is for family members to give voice to what they are experiencing, and once those feelings are out in the open counselors can help families find the strength to overcome those feelings of powerlessness and find empowerment.
In family counseling, each family member can be open and honest and feel they have an important role in recovery. The family learns to support each other in their own recovery and in turn this provides motivation for the addict to find the strength to break the cycle of addiction. The family learns to detach themselves from a loved one’s addiction with love and allows them to assume responsibility for their own recovery. In turn, the family works on assuming responsibility for their own behaviors.
5. Family Programs Help the Addict and their Family with Ongoing Care after Treatment
It is often said that recovery is a journey and an ongoing process. There is no clear cut timetable to the addiction therapy process and the possibility of relapse is as real for family members as it is for the addict. It can take months and even years for addicts and families to regain their physical and mental health and to repair their relationships. In order to achieve the best long-term outcomes, both addicts and their families need to constantly pursue the resources that family programs can offer after formal treatment has concluded.
Counselors in family programs will encourage the addict to pursue aftercare options such as sober living homes and continued participation in peer support groups. For families of addicts, counselors in family programs will encourage them to continue to go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings in order to get the continued education and emotional support they need in order to progress in their recovery. No matter what options the addict and the family pursue, family programs are available to them to help guide them through whatever challenges may lie ahead on the road to recovery.