A person being a sociable creature, any kind of addiction affects not a separate individual but his or her closest ones too. Substance or alcohol addiction tend to worsen social relationships and, what is often more important, one’s situation in his or her family.
Although it is usually a person’s will that is decisive in one’s addiction treatment (unlike common belief, doors are not locked in rehab facilities so that anyone could leave at any stage of recovery), family support can have a positive impact and prevent future relapse. Family support covers the basic needs of a human in being loved and valuable regardless of one’s unfavorable choices in the past.
The process of rehab is difficult for a former addict, but it is no less complicated for his or her family. Needless to say how hard is it to see how your close person abandons normal life for substance use or alcohol. The situation is even more difficult for families where children are involved. These are the reasons for which it is essential to include partners, siblings, parents, and children to the therapy program. Fortunately, each family rehab (you could look here) provides enough information and care not only for a former addict but also for his or her family.
Family as an ecosystem
The substances and alcohol deteriorate physical and psychological health, as do stress and taxes imposed by institutions and organizations that promote physical and mental health. Individuals are members of a family; families are integrated into the community. In families with addictions, its members are interconnected not only by the personal relationship but also external services such as social care institutions, criminal justice or child protection services. The economic costs include a loss of employment opportunities for people. The effects of substance or alcohol abuse are strongly pronounced in the economical and social spheres of a person’s activity.
It is crucial to understand the complex role that families can play in the treatment of an individual’s substance abuse. Family members and close friends can be a source of help for treatment. However, it is important to understand that they must also manage the consequences of addictive behavior. Family members are often concerned about substance abuse, but they also have their personal goals and concerns. Providing services to the whole family should increase the effectiveness of treatment.
Family addiction treatment addresses human behavior in terms of interactions within subsets of the system. From this point of view, family members inevitably adapt to the behavior of a person with a substance use disorder. They develop behavioral patterns and ways to manage the use of psychoactive substances (for example, relatives agree not to tell anybody about addiction or not to bring friends home). Family members try to restore homeostasis and maintain family balance. This can be most obvious after the successful withdrawal.
Family rehab main objectives
Until recently, the disciplines of family therapy and alcohol or drug abuse treatment used to be completely separated from each other. These two branches offer different perspectives for the implementation of treatment. For example, in the treatment of substance abuse, the client is an identified patient – a member of a family with a substance abuse problem. In family therapy, the goal of treatment is to meet the needs of all members of the family. It takes into account the interdependence of family relationships as well as how these relationships influence the identified patient and other family members. Family therapy sessions aim to intervene in these complex relational models and modify them in such a way as to lead to productive changes for the whole family. Family therapy is based on a systemic perspective. Thus, changes to one part of the system can make changes to other parts of the system, and these changes can help solve problems.
Family therapy in the treatment of addiction has two main objectives. First, it seeks to use the strengths and resources of the family to help find or develop ways to live without drugs. Second, it helps to cure the effect of chemical dependence for both an addict and his or her closest ones. During this process, external support is needed to facilitate and speed up the healing process for every member of an ecosystem. Professionals in family rehab centers provide families with appropriate assistance.
In family addiction therapy, the target of the treatment of the process is the family and an individual in the context of the family system. An addict is considered a subsystem within the family unit – a person whose symptoms have serious consequences for every part of a family ecosystem. Family relationships within this subsystem are points of therapeutic interest and intervention. The therapist facilitates discussion and session-related issues, often with the entire group or subgroups, but sometimes with a sole participant who may or may not be someone with a substance abuse disorder.
Family therapy vs. Family-involved therapy
It is important to note that family therapy and family‐involved therapy are not the same. Family-involved therapy includes education of families about patterns of relationships that usually contribute to continuing substance or alcohol abuse. It differs from family therapy in that the family is not the main therapeutic group and there is no intervention in the family relations system. The majority of addiction treatment centers offer this approach while undergoing addiction treatment. It typically involves psychoeducation aimed at informing the whole family about substance abuse, related behaviors and the behavioral, medical and psychological implications of consuming drugs. There is a need in age-appropriate psychoeducation programs for children before being reunited with other family members as part of therapy.
A family is a unit of the social system where its members are interdependent in their relations. In this system, a person who undergoes addiction treatment has a considerable impact on his or her relatives, while family support influences the outcome of the treatment process and the probability of relapse. In this way, family support is of great importance for a former addict. Families can be assisted by professionals in the framework of family therapy and family‐involved therapy programs in family rehab facilities.
About the author
Thanush Poulsen is a health blogger who focuses on drug addiction treatment and possible ways to prevent first use as well as relapse.