Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Family Therapy for Drug and Alcohol Abuse
When you think of the typical happy American family, drugs and alcohol are never in the picture. Yet, this is a harsh reality for many families across the nation. Thousands of homes that appear “normal” on the surface are struggling with substance abuse ranging from occasional heavy drinking to severe ongoing street drug abuse. Addiction affects people from all walks of life. It can affect parents, children, siblings, spouses, and members of the extended family. It might surprise you to know that more than 30 percent of children removed by Child Protective Services from their homes is due to drug or alcohol use by a parent.
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that approximately 67 million Americans are binge drinkers and nearly 17 million are heavy drinkers. One in five Americans above the age of 12 reports using an illicit drug in the past year.
Substance Use Disorders affect every aspect of a person’s life. They make it difficult to carry out daily activities and function at school or work. At Boca Recovery Center, we know that drugs and alcohol affect not only the individual but the entire family. We offer a range of family therapy services to help families break out of unhealthy behavior patterns. We support family members directly affected by a loved one’s addiction. Talk to us today on (855) 637-1331 to learn how our family therapy programs can help in your recovery process.
This article discusses the importance of family therapy in addiction rehabilitation. We list some of the signs that indicate a family member could be using drugs or drinking excessively. We explore the different approaches to family therapy and the goals of rehab. If you are wondering whether family therapy can help you in dealing with an addiction, read on to learn more.
What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a therapeutic approach that intervenes at the family level. A family is a collection of people in which each member is related to the other. The underlying principle of family therapy is that any change in one member of the family affects all the other members. Family therapy uses the inherent strength of families to bring about a change in dealing with a problem like substance abuse.
The purpose of family therapy is twofold. The first is to reduce the impact of substance abuse on the struggling individual and the family. The second is to use the family’s resources and strengths to allow the individual who is struggling to live a life free of drugs or alcohol.
Family Therapists who specialize in addiction rehab facilitate discussions and problem-solving sessions. These sessions may include the entire family or a subset of family members. Sometimes, the session may involve a person other than the one who is using alcohol or drugs. Family members are educated about relationship patterns that are contributing to substance abuse. The sessions cover topics like communication techniques, self-care, and identifying areas for growth. Children are provided with age-appropriate psychological counseling. The family receives guidance on how to help the recovering addict practice the new skills they are learning to stay sober.
Family Therapists at Boca Recovery Center understand how stressful and emotionally challenging it is to have someone you love struggle with substance abuse. For this reason, family therapy is an important component of our therapeutic services and is integrated into our treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction.
How addiction affects the family
Drug and alcohol addiction have both short- and long-term effects on the family. A peaceful, loving home can become divided by the strain of substance abuse. Conflicts may escalate to dangerous levels, putting family members at risk of physical harm. Anger outbursts and rages under the influence of alcohol or street drugs are not uncommon. Over time, trust begins to erode. The user becomes more guarded and secretive. Relatives feel angry and frustrated. Communication becomes very difficult or breaks down completely. Life becomes unpredictable and chaotic. These upheavals can cause irreversible damage. Addiction can end marriages and create chasms that take a lifetime to heal.
It is very difficult to see someone you love become an unrecognizable version of themselves. Sometimes, without realizing it, family members engage in behaviors that contribute to their loved one’s alcohol or drug use. Family therapy is incredibly helpful in identifying these patterns and setting them right. The counselors at Boca Recovery Center are experienced in working with a variety of family situations. If addiction has struck your family, talk to us today and get the help you need.
Detecting substance abuse: Is my family member using drugs?
We think we know our spouse, parent, or child inside out. But human beings are capable of keeping some very big secrets. By its very nature, addiction encourages harmful behaviors like dishonesty and distrust. That’s why signs of addiction can be difficult to detect. However, there are some red flags in a person’s appearance, behavior, and functioning that are indications that something could be wrong. Finding out that someone you love is using drugs can feel like a betrayal. But it’s important not to point fingers. Remember, addiction is a disease and your loved one needs help.
If you suspect that someone in your family could be abusing drugs or alcohol, here are some signs to look out for.
- Poor grooming
- Disheveled looks
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Flushed, puffy, or bloated facial skin
- Wearing sunglasses indoors
- Excessive drowsiness during the day
- Mood swings
- Unprovoked outbursts of anger
- Unexplained sadness or crying
- Expressing hopelessness
- Irrational or inappropriate laughter
- Social isolation, declining invitations, avoiding family members
- Memory loss
- Declining grades in school
- Poor performance at work
- Job loss
- Neglecting previously enjoyed activities
- Unexplained absenteeism
- Financial irregularities (missing money)
Go through the above checklist. Does your loved one have one or more of these signs? Are there other indications of alcohol or drug use? If yes, there could be a problem with substance abuse. Talk to the experienced therapists at Boca Recovery Center today. Get help for your loved one before it becomes a destructive habit that destroys your family. We’re here to give you all the support you need to overcome the disease of addiction.
Approaching addiction treatment for a loved one
It is not easy to broach the subject of addiction with a loved one. The person with the problem may not take it well. The situation can quickly escalate. Here are certain techniques that are effective in making these difficult conversations easier.
- Ask questions sensitively. “I’ve noticed you’re drinking more than usual. Are you stressed about something at work?”
- Use inclusive words like “we,’ “us,” or “our.” For example: “I feel frustrated by how alcohol is affecting our family life.”
- Suggest a solution. “I’ve found a great rehab center that can help people like us.”
- Stay calm. “I know this is hard. I’m here for you.”
- Choose an unrushed time to talk. “Can we talk this weekend about how drugs are affecting our family?”
- Include other people. “Your parents are on board and we’ve found a counselor who can help us all.”
Here are some approaches and attitudes you should AVOID:
- Making angry accusations. “You have no time for us. You’re more interested in getting high.”
- Using words like “you” or “your.” For example; “It’s all your fault.”
- Bargaining or making threats. “If you don’t stop using, I will divorce you.”
- Being judgmental. “You’re a weak person. You could stop drinking if you wanted to.”
- Forcing your loved one to handle the problem alone. “I can’t take this anymore. It is too much to deal with.”
Remember, the prospect of entering rehab can be daunting. Your loved one may deny there is a problem. Denial is the first obstacle in the path to recovery. While having these discussions may be difficult, they are an important step in gaining a handle on the problem.
Seeking outside help: Interventions for drug and alcohol abuse
Addiction is a disease that can distort reality. Sometimes, despite your best efforts and a compassionate, non-judgmental attitude, your loved one may be too entrenched in their addiction to see reason. Confrontation by a family member can cause them to lash out or become dangerously violent. In such situations, communication among family members can break down completely. This can leave the addict’s loved ones feeling helpless and angry. The family may go around in endless vicious circles with no end in sight.
In such cases, professional guidance and interventions can be extremely beneficial. A trained therapist understands the effects of substance abuse. They have the skills to overcome the barriers that are preventing a person from seeking treatment. The best sources for getting help are trained therapists, counselors, and psychologists with experience in addiction treatment. The therapists at Boca Recovery Center specialize in family therapy and counseling with special training in drug rehab. If your family is in a crisis, talk to us today and let us help you.
Goals of Family Therapy
Family therapy at Boca Recovery Center is designed to achieve several things, including:
- Helping families become aware of their needs.
- Improving communication and opening up new lines of communication.
- Increasing the family’s motivation to change patterns of interaction.
- Making environmental changes that are affecting the individual who is struggling, (for example; access to drugs or alcohol).
- Determining accountability in the person using drugs or alcohol.
- Helping non-using members to define specific personal goals for therapy.
- Removing suspicion that family members are “ganging up.”
- Organizing the family structure and shifting the power to parental figures in the family.
- Preventing substance abuse from moving between family members (for example, from an older to a younger sibling).
- Providing a neutral forum for family members to meet and solve problems.
- Creating a supportive environment where everyone feels safe to discuss emotionally charged topics.
The family therapists at Boca Recovery Center can help your family recreate a stable, functional environment in which your loved one can practice sustained abstinence. Our counselors are experienced in applying family therapy across a range of cultural and social situations.
Does Family Therapy work?
The majority of addiction rehab focuses on individual-focused therapies. However, family therapy approaches are very effective in substance abuse treatment. They increase engagement and retention in treatment. When the entire family is involved, a person is less likely to drop out of therapy before rehab is completed.
People receiving family therapy have reduced drug and alcohol use and a lower risk of relapse. There is improved family bonding and social functioning. Parents benefit from enhanced parenting skills and better family management.
Studies show that family therapy leads to better relationships and lasting abstinence. There is a decreased incidence of separation and divorce and a reduction in domestic violence. When family therapy is part of addiction treatment, the results are superior to modalities that do not include the family.
Family therapy at Boca Recovery Center
Family therapy is a complex approach that requires special training and skills in addition to those typically required for alcohol and drug rehab. At Boca Recovery Center, our therapists are skilled in the management of complicated family situations. We are aware that treating a family is more challenging than treating an individual, especially when the person using drugs or alcohol is unwilling to receive addiction treatment.
Diverse cultural contexts can further complicate drug treatment. Our clinical team is culturally competent and sensitive to any divergence from the mainstream. Therapists at Boca Recovery Center are skilled in attending to cultural, racial, sexual, and gender orientation issues.
Substance abuse is almost always associated with other complications, such as mental health issues. Our addiction treatment programs focus on substance use disorders as well as co-existing behavior disorders.
If your loved one needs drug or alcohol rehab, call us today. We can help your family rebalance, stabilize, and achieve a new healthier life. Our drug rehab programs can make long-term sobriety a reality for your loved one. Get in touch with us on (800) 516-4357 to help your family overcome addiction.