The impact of substance use disorder (SUD) on families is well-documented.
For example, in 2017, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released the following statistics:
- From 2009–2014, 8.7 million children under age 17 lived with at least one parent with SUD—that’s one in eight children in the U.S.
- Approximately one in 10 children lived with a parent suffering from alcohol abuse, while one in 35 children lived with a parent with illicit drug use disorder.
The same SAMHSA report indicated that more than 20 million adults experienced SUD, but less than eight percent received treatment. This means that in addition to children, other family members such as partners, parents, and extended relations frequently deal with a widening circle of addiction-related issues.
This is one reason why medical experts believe that it’s not just the person with SUD in the crossfire of addiction complications. Anyone having to live with mental and emotional strife and the potential for legal and financial chaos due to someone’s substance abuse may have a need for comprehensive healing.
The Deliberate Therapeutic Path
At a treatment facility, a continuum of care plan designed specifically for someone will include a number of therapeutic components:
- Individual. A therapist may use a variety of behavioral approaches to encourage self-reflection, symptom reduction, personal development, and new coping strategies.
- Group. In some settings, often divided by gender, group counseling provides interactive feedback, a shared understanding of circumstances, and an opportunity to learn aspects of projection and engagement with others.
- Couple. In some circumstances, a therapist may deem it necessary for romantic partners to focus on communication, habits, routines, and interactions, and how these behaviors relate to or are affected by addiction.
- Family. Catering to the overall dynamic of family members, this counseling provides an opportunity to work with a moderator, such as a therapist or interventionist, and find ways to acknowledge, work through, and move beyond the harm caused by addiction.
Often, someone working toward recovery will pass through at least two of these milestones of healing. When someone reaches the stage of family therapy in substance abuse recovery, it’s a chance to re-establish vital connections and form the foundation for new beginnings—for everyone.
From Intense to Intent
Without question, family therapy can be intense. The hurt may be fresh for some and deep-rooted for others. There may be co-occurring disorders, such as chronic mental or physical health issues everyone is trying to understand for the first time. Some people might have suffered trauma caused by the actions of close or extended family members.
In family therapy, you’ll work through the definition of family roles; identify strengths, weakness, and contributing behaviors; and other characteristics necessary for healing. Ultimately, the primary intent of family substance abuse therapy is forgiveness: of self and for others.
Yes, you may never forget what happened, or condone the resulting behavior. But once you make what mental health experts consider a “conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance…shame, blame, and guilt,” family therapy will help you:
- Learn to manage negative emotions
- Create new coping skills
- Manifest stronger connections with one another
- Establish healthy boundaries
- Understand the importance of self-care
- Have the ability to offer authentic support that isn’t codependent behavior
It’s difficult to let go of the past and look toward the future. But if you can do this, the family’s future may benefit greatly. If there are still some people who need to move on separately with their lives, at least there aren’t lingering resentments to complicate the matter. All feelings are out in the open, and people accept the results.
Let Our Family Help Your Family
In the 1960s, Dr. John Mooney and his wife, Dot, discovered the need to provide compassionate care for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Dr. Mooney invited people into his home, with his four children, to be surrounded by the foundation of family while they completed quality, medically-supervised addiction treatment.
Now, more than 40 years later, our family of addiction specialists at Willingway follows this same approach. The entire staff recognizes that each family member is affected by a loved one’s addiction, and is committed to offering healing to them all.
In addition to family therapy options, we have a five-day intensive program for the entire family after you or a loved one complete treatment. It’s an educational, inspirational, and interactive experience that focuses on wellness and long-lasting recovery.
Whether you or a loved one needs an inpatient rehabilitation center, outpatient services for adults or adolescents, or an extended treatment program, let our family provide the care, resources, and continued support your family needs to thrive.