Using a Family Program to Develop Healthy Communication Skills

Substance use disorder (SUD) is often considered a “family disease” due to the ripple effects that one person’s substance use has on the rest of the family. One of the most challenging effects of addiction on the family is broken communication. This broken communication is caused by dishonesty, distrust, and misunderstandings that originate from the family member who is using substances. In addiction treatment, a family program can effectively restore healthy communication among family members. This type of program provides a safe and secure space for loved ones to express and work through their concerns with the help of treatment professionals.

At 12 South Recovery, we offer a comprehensive family program designed to provide comfort, support, education, and, most of all, healing to families impacted by addiction and other mental health disorders. This program, which is facilitated by addiction treatment and mental health professionals, offers a variety of resources and services to meet each family’s needs. Moreover, restoring healthy communication in families is just one of the endless benefits of utilizing a family program at 12 South Recovery when healing from SUD as a family.

Approaching Healing Together as a Family: The Value of a Family Program

While any person with SUD will likely require participation in a professional treatment program to establish sobriety, they are not the only ones who can benefit from treatment. As a matter of fact, any loved ones of those with SUD should greatly consider participating in treatment themselves. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders, and may be at greater risk based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family member’s mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.

No family is immune from the effects of addiction. Because of this, it can be helpful to know that a variety of healing and recovery resources are available for the entire family. For instance, a family program provides the intentional space and time for loved ones to honestly discuss their concerns and fears about addiction and the recovery process. In addition, it offers an opportunity for loved ones to become educated, dispel stigmas, and ultimately strengthen communication among one another to establish lasting healing in each family member’s life.

How Does a Family Program Foster Healthy Communication?

Recognizing some of the ways that a family program works to foster healthy communication can serve as motivation for families that are on the fence about participating in treatment together. Consider some of the following benefits of a family program for fostering healthy communication:

Promotes Active Listening

One of the most important ways that a family program fosters healthy communication is by promoting active listening between family members. Rather than assuming another person’s perspective, active listening requires listening intentionally to what another person is saying. In a family program, family members are encouraged to practice active listening not only when one another is talking, but also when the health care professional takes the lead in the conversation.

Moreover, active listening ensures that family members do not feel misunderstood or judged. In turn, the act of listening helps to build trust, rapport, and a deeper understanding of family members’ thoughts and emotions.

Encourages Empathy

Another way that a family program can foster healthy communication is by providing education about addiction and mental health disorders. This knowledge can foster feelings of empathy toward family members.

In a family program, each family member has the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings about their own lived experience. Meanwhile, the health care professional will work to guide the conversation by sharing warning signs and symptoms, potential etiology, and other known facts often resulting from chronic substance abuse. This ongoing dialogue ensures that all family members have a strong understanding of what to expect from the recovery process as well as how to lean into the support of one another for lasting healing.

Addresses How to Set and Communicate Personal Boundaries

Additionally, a family program fosters healthy communication by addressing ways to set and communicate personal boundaries. Boundaries are recognized as an individual’s personal limits and lines that are drawn to protect their health and well-being. Moreover, healthy boundaries are crucial for maintaining a sense of peace and agency in daily life.

Families affected by addiction may especially struggle with setting and communicating boundaries, particularly with loved ones. In a family program, family members will be encouraged to identify their personal limits. These limits may pertain to:

  • Mental health
  • Social health
  • Relational health
  • Physical health
  • Enabling behaviors

Once personal limits are addressed, each member can create boundaries that align with their unique needs. The therapist facilitating the family program will ensure that each member has the knowledge and tools they need to effectively implement these boundaries into their daily life.

If your family is affected by substance abuse or mental illness, you may feel encouraged to know that there are treatment programs for the whole family. A family program can provide the professional guidance and familial support that family members need to effectively heal from the various impacts of addiction. At 12 South Recovery, we offer a comprehensive family program aimed to meet the unique healing needs of each family and family member. Our family program includes weekly family therapy sessions, providing a safe space for family members to express their concerns, thoughts, and feelings. To learn more about this program or the other treatment programs we offer, give us a call today at (888) 830-8374.

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