Family therapy can play an essential role for you or your loved one throughout their recovery from addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), friends and family play a vital role in addiction recovery. NIDA states that “involvement of a family member or significant other in an individual’s treatment program can strengthen and extend treatment benefits.”
When you try to deal with addiction on your own, you might be more susceptible to relapse or mask underlying issues with other unhealthy behaviors. Families that support and help a loved one struggling with addiction can ensure that their loved one will have better outcomes in treatment and long-term recovery.
Does My Loved One Have an Addiction?
You might have a family member engaging in negative behaviors or dealing with mental health issues stemming from an addiction or substance abuse disorder. Before talking with your loved one about your concerns, you might want to know more about the problems at hand.
Since denial can often occur with addiction, your loved one might not be aware of the issue. They might also be abusing drugs or alcohol to cope with underlying mental health issues and can get defensive about quitting, even if their substance abuse is detrimental to their overall quality of life.
According to MedlinePlus, some of the most common signs of addiction include:
- Changing friends and social circles often
- Isolating from loved ones
- Loss of interest in pleasurable hobbies and activities
- Poor hygiene and not taking care of themselves
- Feeling tired frequently
- Changes in appetite and sleep patterns (either too much or too little)
- Appearing very energetic or even hyper
- Mood swings
- Missing important appointments or interpersonal events
- Issues at school or work, especially with attendance and conduct
- Conflicts with loved ones and other family members
If you notice signs like these, your loved one might have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. You might even see evidence of these issues, like drug paraphernalia or alcohol hidden in your home. You might also notice other strange smells or the smell of alcohol on their breath, which can be concerning, especially if they deny drinking or using substances.
How Does Addiction Affect Families?
Addiction is often referred to as a “family disease.” According to Social Work in Public Health, “SUDs [substance use disorders] negatively affect emotional and behavioral patterns from the inception of the family, resulting in poor outcomes for the children and adults with SUDs.”
Drug and alcohol addiction can affect families in many ways. When a parent or other caregiver has a substance use disorder, they might not be attentive to their child’s emotional or physical needs. Parents might be under the influence or sick from a long night of using substances, creating long periods of parental absences.
Children, especially young kids, often blame themselves for the issues that occur in the family. While they might not be aware of the causes, they will notice that their parent or caregiver is struggling with something or not themselves. When an older sibling uses drugs or alcohol, younger kids might worry in silence. If no one is speaking to young kids about addiction in the family, they might not know how to express their feelings about it.
For partners, addiction can cause rifts in the relationship. One partner might be making excuses or needs to cover for the other due to the addiction. Addiction can disrupt marriages, leading to divorce or separations.
How Does Family Therapy Support Recovery?
Family therapy supports recovery in several ways. Overcoming addiction without support from the family can be difficult. When the whole family is involved in the process, they can support recovery by:
- Helping their family member stay accountable for their sobriety
- Understand potential triggers and support their loved ones during difficult times
- Create a plan for relapse prevention
- Support their family member by going to support groups and other appointments
- Provide motivation and encouragement for their loved ones to continue their recovery
- Ensure a safe and healthy home environment for ongoing recovery
Family therapy can help to bring issues out into the open. By bringing these problems to the surface, families can build stronger bonds with one another as they support their struggling loved one.
What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy?
Family therapy is not just for the person in recovery from addiction. Often family members might be dealing with stress related to their loved one’s behaviors. Sometimes, family members are not dealing with underlying mental health issues or stressors if they are overly concerned with their loved one’s addiction.
Benefits of family therapy include:
- Establishing healthy boundaries
- Encouraging self-care
- Addresses the hidden negative feelings among family members
- Fosters effective communication
- Teaches active-listening skills
Family Therapy and Addiction Recovery in Denver
If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, these behaviors can negatively affect your family. Family therapy is a vital part of any comprehensive treatment program. Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado understands that addiction affects the whole family. Call us today or reach out to our admissions page for more information about how our Family Education and Therapy program can help you or your loved one during addiction recovery.