When an individual is suffering from addiction, the effects aren’t limited to that single person. The consequences of addiction cast an effect on those closest to the person- mainly family members and close friends. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence classifies addiction as a “family disease”. Family issues are a common contributor to addiction. It can also result in strained relationships and codependency. Therefore, successful treatment for addiction incorporates family therapy options.
Family therapy refers to a variety of treatment options that center on the group instead of the individual within the group. Treatment styles are based on the idea that families share a connection, and when one person is affected, the others are as well. This implies that a healthy family unit can play a significant role in the success of one’s individual recovery.
How Addiction Impacts the Family
Addiction puts the entire family under an immense amount of stress. While a strained family may perpetuate addiction, it also comprises existing relationships. Addiction disrupts normal routines, causes frightening experiences, and creat3es a dysfunctional environment. As the family members struggle to deal with the addicted individual, they may actually be unwillingly contributing to the addiction.
Substance abuse and addiction within a household are especially destructive to children. Children in a household affected by addiction increase the risk of physical, emotional, and mental health issues. Addiction interrupts a child’s healthy at-home routine which could interrupt their normal development. Not only that, but growing up in a home with an addicted person also increases their risk of developing an addiction themselves later on.
Addiction in the Home
Addiction affects every family differently. Depending on the family structure and situation, addictive behavior impacts family dynamics in a variety of ways, including:
- Safety. Addiction is a chronic disease that causes serious behavioral changes. This can lead to dangerous actions that impact other family member’s safety.
- Negative emotions. Substance abuse and addiction cause family members to feel a wide array of negative emotions including fear, embarrassment, concern, guilt, anger, and resentment.
- Denial. In some cases, close family members may deny that there is an issue. This could be because the simply refuse to believe their loved one needs help, or they don’t want to face the issue. Denial only continues to perpetuate the problem and prevents treatment.
- Communication. Communication is an important part of any healthy relationship dynamic. When a loved one is battling addiction, communication is usually negative with little to no positive interaction. Communication becomes limited, causing a strain in family relationships.
- Responsibilities. A person dealing with addiction is often consumed entirely by their addiction. They ignore their own responsibilities and place them on others. This can result in certain family members to adopt responsibilities that may not be age-appropriate or are simply not their job.
- Codependency. When the family begins to adapt to the dysfunctional behavior, it results in codependency. Codependent individuals neglect their own needs in favor of obsessing over the concern with a loved one’s problems.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Healing the harmful effects of addiction is important for the health of family members. Not only that, but it also has a positive impact on their loved one’s recovery from addiction. In addition to the family member’s own well-being, family therapy and involvement have many benefits, including:
- Educating them about addiction and understanding how treatment works, as well as what to expect afterward.
- Keeping their loved ones motivated and engaged during addiction treatment.
- Allowing them to understand how to offer appropriate support during and after treatment.
- The chance to develop skills and strategies that will help a loved one stay sober during recovery.
- Improving family communication skills.
- Repairing strained family relationships.
- Permitting family members to express their feelings, concerns, and ask questions about their loved one’s addiction.
- Relieving feelings of anger, stress, guilt, and fear related to their family member’s addiction.
- The opportunity to address any mental health issues within the family, including depression and anxiety that can negatively influence the individual in recovery.
- Giving family members the chance to develop skills and strategies to help a loved one stay on the path towards recovery.
Family therapy programs are specially developed to help the specific needs of family members and loved ones of an addicted person. The healing of loved ones is not only crucial for their own health, but for their loved one’s recovery as well. We understand that each person and family dynamic is different, with individual needs and values. Family treatment is an important part of the recovery process for all individuals involved. If you or one of your family members is battling addiction, be sure to contact us for help taking the next step towards recovery.