Group of family members comforting their brotherFamily therapy helps involve loved ones in your substance abuse treatment, which can begin creating foundations for a future support system while also working to heal potential hurts caused by addiction. According to the National Institutes of Health, family often has a central role in treatments, including those for both physical and mental health. Find out more about treating the whole family when one person is struggling with addiction below.

What Is Family Therapy?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. As opposed to individual therapy — which involves only you and a counselor — or group therapy — which involves you, a counselor and other people working through the recovery process — family therapy involves you, a counselor and one or more members of your family.

How Does Family Therapy for Addiction Work?

Like individual and group therapy, family therapy for substance abuse disorders can involve a variety of tools. One of the most common is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is an approach to talk therapy that’s been proven to work well in a variety of situations, including treating mental health disorders and addictions. The basic concepts of CBT include:

  • Addictions and other disorders are based, in part, on psychological issues.
  • These psychological issues are due to both negative or inappropriate thought patterns as well as learned behavior (or responses to those thoughts) that is unhelpful or negative.
  • Because behaviors are learned, they can be unlearned, and thought patterns can be changed to help someone develop new, more positive thoughts and behaviors.

In family therapy sessions, these concepts — and other tools appropriate for the situation — are used to help the entire family understand the thoughts and behaviors that might be driving an addiction. The family as a group works to understand the addiction cycle and the needs of recovery. But they also talk through triggers, behaviors, emotional hurts and other issues that impact everyone and how each person can work to make positive changes in those areas to support healing for all and recovery for the person struggling with addiction.

Is family therapy magic that resolves all family struggles? It is not. But it is an important tool for recovery treatment that can equip families who want to do the work of supporting each other during such a time to move forward more positively.

Benefits of Family Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment

Getting the entire family together to talk about your addiction, including how it has impacted loved ones and what family issues might have triggered substance abuse, might not sound like a great time to you. But putting in the work involved in this type of addiction therapy can have some important benefits.

Every person — and every family — is unique, and the advantages of this type of treatment vary in each case. But some common ones can include:

  • Loved ones are educated about the addiction and recovery processes and may better understand their roles as part of the support structure. A strong support system can have a huge impact on your overall ability to remain sober in the future.
  • Addiction has often been called a family disease. That’s because no matter how secret and separate you thought you kept your issue, it probably bled over into family life. Addiction can impact how you treat others, whether you hold up your obligations and the quality of your relationships. If you’re seeking help with substance abuse, your family has probably suffered too, and therapy can bring these issues into the light so they can be addressed.
  • Substance abuse is a family concern in more ways than one. Often, family environments and relationships are some of the triggers that lead to substance abuse. This type of therapy helps you — and your loved ones — identify those issues and work on developing healthier coping mechanisms to respond to them in the future.

Integrating Family Therapy Into Addiction Treatment

Family therapy works best when it’s properly integrated into a recovery treatment plan. And it’s important to realize that family therapy, particularly within an inpatient or outpatient recovery program, may not be the right choice for every person.

At Changing Tides, we believe strongly in integrating this type of therapy into substance abuse treatment programs when appropriate. That’s why we have on-site family programs that support visitors and the active involvement of loved ones throughout treatment.

At the same time, we also know that it’s important for someone struggling with addiction to take some time and make space for their own healing. In some cases, for example, we might recommend starting treatment and waiting a week or two to ensure you’re settled in and making some progress on your own before inviting family into the fold.

Find out more about how our beach-front rehab center in NC can help you and your family. Contact us today at 252-715-3905 or complete our online contact form and we’ll get back to you with more information ASAP.

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