Exploring the Role of Family Therapy in Addiction Rehab
In addiction rehab, a variety of treatment methods and therapies are employed to ensure that patients can achieve recovery. While a comprehensive approach is best, there is no denying the impact of family therapy. Including families in the process of recovery from addiction can help rebuild relationships, reduce feelings of isolation, break the cycle of addiction and be instrumental in relapse prevention.
Educate Families About Addiction and Recovery
In many cases, the families of those struggling with addiction truly want to help. However, they may not fully understand what addiction is, how it impacts people and what is involved in recovery. Through family therapy, these issues can be addressed and loved ones can be completely prepared to help those in need of addiction rehab.
A key part of family therapy is learning what addiction is as well as what it isn’t. Addiction is a disease, not a choice. By understanding that addiction isn’t a decision, a flaw or an indicator of morality, families may be more compassionate to those struggling with addiction.
Those who participate in family therapy can also get a realistic picture of recovery. All too often, the loved ones of addicts expect recovery to be over in a matter of weeks or even days. The reality, of course, is that recovering from an addiction may be a lifelong process that takes commitment, hard work and ongoing dedication.
Creates a Support Network for People Overcoming Addiction
In order for individuals to recover from addiction, they need a support network. This support network can include anyone from therapists to peers met in group meetings, but having family join will be so much better for all involved. Enlisting family into an addiction support network can go a long way in aiding recovery.
Addiction is a very isolating disease. It brings with it feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment. With these feelings, many addicts avoid spending time with family, isolating themselves further. When family members make an effort to participate in recovery through therapy, it can help addicts feel like they are included and that they truly belong in the family.
Support networks can also offer a layer of accountability to those who are beginning the road to recovery from addiction. Knowing that others you love are counting on you to stay sober can be a tremendous motivator. Simple things like calling and texting to say hello, and to check on progress, can be a way for addicts to stay on the right track. While accountability can come from therapists or mentors, family relationships often mean more and can make a greater impact.
Rebuilds Relationships Damaged by Addiction
For families in the throes of addiction, a primary goal is rebuilding relationships. The longer a rift remains, the harder it can be to repair close relationships between siblings, parents and loved ones. In family therapy, several methods are employed to guide these relationships back to what they once were.
One of the biggest problems with relationships rocked by addiction is a lack of trust. Those surrounding an addict might feel as if they can’t trust or rely on the addict. The addict, on the other hand, might be overwhelmed with guilt, and in turn can let down those that they love. Trained family and addiction therapists can express these concerns, get them out in the open and help stimulate bonding between all parties.
The family members of addicts may have spent months or even years trying not to enable their loved ones. To an addict, this might feel like a lack of caring. Showing that the care, support and love has been there all along can be an important and critical element of family therapy.
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction With Family Therapy
An often overlooked element of family therapy in addiction rehab is the issue of genetic addiction. Research suggests that addiction can be at least partially genetic. That means that the family members of addicts are more likely to also deal with addiction in the future. Family therapy can be the first step toward breaking that cycle of addiction.
The family members of an addict have two significant risk factors that can contribute to the development of a future addiction. First, they share the same genetic material that the addicted family member does, increasing an addiction likelihood right off the bat. Second, they have likely undergone some trauma or stress helping their loved one recover, which again increases the chance of addiction.
It is vital that one person’s addiction doesn’t grow to consume an entire family. When an individual’s family members participate in family therapy, they can learn more about the genetic predisposition to addiction. This might play a role in reducing substance abuse, and it could potentially save someone from becoming addicted in the future.
This is especially true for young people. When children and teens understand that they have an additional risk factor, they might make an increased effort to avoid drugs and alcohol. This small step can mean the difference between a future lifetime of addiction and a life of health and happiness.
Sets the Stage for Ongoing Care and Relapse Prevention
Recovery will not end the day that an addiction rehab program concludes. Patients will always need to be aware of relapse, and ongoing care will be necessary. Family therapy can be one of the best possible resources in the fight for relapse prevention.
Relapse prevention can come in many forms. Regular accountability and check-ins from loved ones can be helpful, and so can group meetings. Having family to encourage these meetings, and even to drive or organize them, can go a long way.
It is even possible to organize ongoing therapy for patients. Ongoing individual or group therapy, as well as continuing family therapy, can ensure that those struggling with addiction can stick to their treatment plans and embrace a lifetime of sobriety.
Clearly, family therapy plays a significant role in addiction rehab. Enlisting the help of loved ones can make a tremendous difference in the recovery of individuals dealing with an addiction.