When one family member struggles with substance abuse or another mental health disorder, the entire family often experiences ripple effects. While some family members may enable additive behaviors, others may experience conflict with one another. Further, some family members may even develop substance misuse or other maladaptive behaviors in an attempt to cope with the family’s dysfunction. Fortunately, family therapy promotes healing for families struggling with these challenges and more as a result of addiction and mental health issues.
At 12 South Recovery, we understand that substance abuse and co-occurring disorders rarely affect an individual alone. Rather, these conditions wreak havoc on the lives of loved ones as well. Fortunately, we offer family therapy and other family programs to provide healing to the entire family rather than just the individual in recovery. Family therapy promotes education and understanding among all family members. This type of education is one of the most important facets of securing lasting healing and recovery together as a family.
The Effects of Substance Use Disorder on the Family
Before understanding the value of family therapy in promoting healing for the whole family, it is necessary to understand how substance use disorder (SUD) or co-occurring disorders impact the family unit. According to an article published in Social Work in Public Health, “Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her.”
While it is necessary to consider the unique effects of a loved one’s SUD on each family member, it is also crucial to consider the effects of a loved one’s SUD on the family unit. As mentioned previously, family members may adopt enabling behaviors in an attempt to rescue or protect their loved one from the consequences of their substance abuse. Additionally, the family may also experience disruptions of “attachment, rituals, roles, routines, communication, social life, and finances,” according to the aforementioned article.
Truly, these examples only scratch the surface of challenges that families affected by SUD or other co-occurring disorders may struggle with. Therefore, although the individual with SUD must participate in treatment for recovery, it is just as essential for other family members to accept help. Family members should recognize their own need for intervention so they can achieve lasting healing as individuals and as a family unit. With the help of a professional therapist, family therapy can provide direction and guidance for all family members to heal together.
Family Therapy Promotes Education
Arguably, one of the most frustrating parts of enduring SUD is being misunderstood by family members. Fortunately, family therapy promotes education so that all family members are informed about SUD and the recovery process.
During the first few sessions of family therapy, family members will be encouraged to ask questions and express their concerns about their loved one’s journey with SUD or other mental health issues. In response, the therapist guiding the sessions will help the family better understand addiction as a disease that triggers lasting brain changes. The therapist will also help the family dismantle any unrealistic expectations about their loved one’s recovery, such as realizing that relapse does not equal failure.
Because family therapy promotes education, this form of treatment helps family members to resolve biases, stereotypes, and judgments. Through this therapy, family dynamics become healthier and more productive. Similarly, family therapy works to dispel any misinformation and understanding surrounding addiction and recovery. Through education, family members can develop empathy and a deeper understanding of their loved one’s experience.
Family Therapy Promotes Awareness
Another benefit of family therapy is that it promotes greater awareness among family members. Family therapy promotes awareness by helping family members:
- Identify and reflect on enabling behaviors
- Address potential warning signs of a lapse or relapse
- Create safety plans for avoiding relapse
- Identify and implement coping mechanisms for navigating stress
- Celebrate efforts that support the family’s recovery as a whole
Following family therapy sessions, family members are able to return home with new expectations for healthy family behavior. The family also will be armed with knowledge on how to best support their loved one as they begin their personal recovery journey.
It is important to understand that to fully reap the benefits of family therapy, all family members must be committed and dedicated to healthy behavior change. Moreover, family members must foster vulnerability and humility as they participate in treatment. Not only does this attitude support healing and growth in their loved one in recovery, but it also furthers healing and recovery for the whole family unit.
Participating in Family Therapy at 12 South Recovery
At 12 South Recovery, we offer several different types of family therapy for families working to overcome the lasting consequences of substance abuse on the family. Some types of family therapy we offer include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Solution-focused brief therapy
- Structural therapy
Furthermore, the main goals of family therapy are to improve communication, resolve conflict, and ensure that the family unit is a secure social support system as everyone heals uniquely from the ripple effect of SUD. As a result, family therapy can help individuals secure sobriety faster, maintain sobriety longer, and build healthier relationships with loved ones.
Addiction is often called a family disease because its effects stretch beyond solely the individual using alcohol and drugs. Rather, all family members are affected. Often, there is degradation and destruction within the family unit as a whole. If your family is enduring the consequences of substance abuse or mental illness, consider participating in family therapy. Family therapy is a psychotherapeutic intervention that helps to improve communication and resolve conflict between family members. One benefit of this type of therapy is that it educates family members about addiction and the recovery process. At 12 South Recovery, we offer family therapy and family programs that foster lasting healing. To learn more, give us a call today at (888) 830-8374.