One of the most prevalent challenges faced by people struggling with addiction is the sense that they are all alone in the world. The people they depended on and cared for before they became addicted seem far from them now. In fact, those people are usually still right there. They are simply at a loss about how to help. Through behaviors associated with excessive drug or alcohol use, the person suffering from addiction has pushed them away, seeming not to want help or even believe there is a problem. Helping families and friends reconnect meaningfully with their addicted loved ones is something a family therapy program can do.
Greater Boston Addiction Centers is deeply committed to working with families. Addiction does not just affect one person – but all who love that person too. To learn more about how a family therapy program can help you and your loved one, reach out to us today for information. Just fill out our online form or call 877.920.6583.
Addiction Is a Family Disease
Addiction is often referred to as a family disease because of its impact on immediate family members and non-family who are closely connected.
The effects on family members can differ depending on the relationship. These effects can be challenging – and often traumatic. Below are some of the ways addiction reaches its other victims.
More than 10% of children live with a parent who actively abuses drugs or alcohol. Having an addicted parent feels unsafe. The unpredictability of their environment is even more damaging than it would be on an adult because to develop healthily, children need to feel secure and that their boundaries and world won’t keep shifting. Children of addicts are often expected to become the parent, are more likely to be abused or neglected, and lack necessary support and nurture. In cases where there is a second, non-addicted parent, that person’s influence can mitigate a few of the worst outcomes but being the child of an addicted parent can cause social and cognitive delays, result in low self-confidence, create a dynamic of co-dependence, and is even likely to have negative health outcomes.
The parents of a teenager or adult with a substance use addiction are often haunted by guilt, believing the addiction is their fault. Worrying about their child’s safety is amplified by drug or alcohol abuse risks, and they feel powerless and afraid. Parents often enable their addicted children well into adulthood, creating unhealthy relationship patterns that, if not dealt with, can result in resentment, anger, and ultimately rupture of the relationship.
Often called the invisible victims of addiction, siblings of someone gripped by addiction are often neglected or ignored, expected to enable and support their sibling in various ways, and at risk for addiction themselves. Drug or alcohol use is often an unconscious attempt to get more parental attention. Resentment, confusion, and fear mix with sibling love and concern and can have devastating effects on siblings of all ages.
The long-suffering spouse or partner of someone who is addicted is in a uniquely challenging position. As the primary object of attachment, whether a healthy attachment or not, the spouse is most likely to receive the worst. The spouse can suffer from verbal, sexual, or physical abuse, experience financial difficulty or even ruin, and have to cope with their partner’s legal challenges, if any. As the addiction takes over the entire life of one partner, it takes over the life of the other as well.
Family Therapy During Addiction Recovery
Family involvement in recovery is, in most cases, fundamental to the success of addiction treatment.
In many cases, a family has unwittingly supported their loved one’s addiction. This manifestation of a close relationship between a substance abuser and a family member is called codependency, and family members will learn about this common pitfall in family therapy.
Helping the family identify and cope with suppressed anger and hostility, grief, guilt, and other crippling emotions will enable the entire family unit to operate on a healthy, productive level for the good of all. Family support in recovery is just as much for the family as for the addicted family member.
Family therapy seeks to do the following:
- Help family members identify and understand their role in their loved one’s recovery
- Educate everyone about what addiction is, how it operates in their loved one, and what that person’s needs are
- Create a safe, neutral space in which families can work on complicated and unresolved issues
- Advise and encourage family members to seek their own help via individual therapy, Al-Anon meetings, and other pathways to self-care.
- Get families working together to address the myriad factors that play into addiction and the difficulties of life with an addicted loved one
Therapists in a family therapy program are trained and experienced in managing family dynamics to pursue resolutions to problems and ultimately healing for all, the one suffering from addiction and those suffering the challenges of loving someone with an addiction.
Learn How Therapy at Greater Boston Addiction Centers can Heal Your Family
Just as integral to the client’s addiction recovery treatment plan as medical detox, individual therapy, 12-Steps, and anything else that can redirect life to the path of recovery, family therapy is one of the pillars of our evidence-based program.
Does this sound like you?
- “I’ll never be able to get them to hear me.”
- “There’s nothing I can do to help.”
- “What about me? I’m giving all I have, it’s not helping, and I’m drowning.”
- “It’s hopeless.”
All of those fears will be addressed in family therapy. Family therapy at Greater Boston Addiction Centers can and will help you and your loved one to the other side. Reach out today by filling out our online form or calling 877.920.6583.