Many would say that addicted individuals’ families suffer more than the addicted individual themselves. Unlike the addicted individual who is numbed to the world due their substance use or engagement in addictive behaviors, the family is sober and has to witness and deal with the harsh reality of the effects of addiction. Almost all effective addiction therapy services integrate the family into treatment because of the significant role the family play in active addiction and recovery and the codependency issues that the family often suffers from.
Addiction therapy services integrate the family into the treatment in the following ways:
• Family Therapy
In a rehab center, all clients are assigned a counselor. That counselor will help the clients with their individual psychological issues that are fueling the addiction (e.g. childhood trauma, co-occurring disorders, low self-esteem, etc.). Part of working on a client’s individual issues is addressing his or her family system. The counselor will work with the family to heal the wounds inflicted during active addiction, identify and change codependent patterns that enabled the active addiction, and prepare the family for the client’s homecoming to reduce the risk of relapse due to family conflict.
• Group Therapy for the Family Members Only
Rehab centers will also hold group therapy sessions that are for the family members of the clients only. These sessions will be facilitated by a counselor at the rehab center and will allow the family member to share common issues and learn common solutions.
• Supervised Contact
Due to the codependent relationships that are often present between addicted individuals and their family members, contact with family is limited to allow everyone to work on themselves. When there is contact (e.g. phone calls, video chats, non-therapeutic visits), there will most likely be a counselor supervising in order to guide the client through conversations with their family and mediate any conflict that may arise.
• Family Workshops
Family workshops are often hosted on weekends or other designated days to allow the clients and their family members to be in a group session with other clients and their family members to work on common issues and learn common solutions.
How is the Family Affected by Addiction?
The family is primarily affected by addiction by codependency. Codependency is a broad term that is characterized by unhealthy relationships, lack of set boundaries, and attempts to control and fix each other. While codependent family members are often codependent before the addiction starts, the crisis of addiction brings out the codependent behaviors even more. Examples of codependent behaviors are enabling (e.g. giving money, bailing out of jail, calling out of work, paying bills, etc.), searching through phones and computers to find drug dealers’ numbers, chasing down and rescuing from drug houses, coercing the individual to go to treatment, and being affected by the addiction as if they were using themselves (e.g. missing work due to the stress). Contrary to their knee-jerk reactions, families cannot cure the addiction. The only person who can cure the addiction is the addicted individuals themselves.
Unfortunately, they do not seek help right away because they are numb to the problem and are often in denial about having a problem. When individuals first become addicted, they think they have found the answer to life’s problems. They must progress to the point that they see the problem and desire to seek help for themselves. The family can only change their interactions with the addicted individual by not being codependent and allowing him or her to suffer the natural consequences of addiction.
Resources for Family Recovery
Fortunately, there are many resources to help the family recover, regardless if the addicted individual is ready to get into recovery. Twelve-Step Meetings (e.g. Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, S-Anon, Codependents’ Anonymous, Family’s Anonymous, etc.) to help the family work on the issues presented by addiction. If the 12-Step Model is not for them, there are alternatives (e.g. SMART Recovery Friends and Family and other independent groups in the community). Therapy is also beneficial for family members. A marriage and family therapist who specialize in addiction and codependency would be the best option. In order to find resources for family, each 12-Step program and SMART Recovery Friends and Family have websites that have a directory for meetings in a certain area. Therapists and treatment centers may also have a meeting list. Independent meetings may also have websites or have information about them available at the local health and human services departments.
Families Do Recover
Families do recover. The miracle for families is not for the addicted individual to get into recovery. Rather, their miracle is to be happy regardless if the addicted individuals achieves recovery or not. Recovery is a process. Regardless of how many meetings and therapy sessions that families attend, drastic change will not happen overnight. Families cannot control whether or not the addicted individual gets into recovery, but they can control whether or not they get into recovery. South West Florida rehabs effectively integrate the family in addiction treatment. Call one today to learn more at 844-639-8371.