The Benefits of Family Therapy
One of the best defenses against relapse that your addicted loved one has is you. The support of close friends and family can be an instrumental part of her ability to avoid relapse and make positive choices in the long-term.
Unfortunately, those who are closest to the addicted person are often the ones most hurt by the addiction. It’s an issue that makes the rebuilding of these intensely important relationships in an addicted person’s life complicated. However, investing the effort and time it takes into learning how to begin the mending process on a personal level as well as addressing the issues between you and your addicted loved one can provide huge benefits to your family member, including:
- A positive relationship provides a buffer between the addicted person and relapse.
- Discussing recovery goals with a family member provides a level of accountability that is loving, constant and nonjudgmental.
- Working through old issues can offer a healing that is deep and personal.
- Learning how to handle problems as they arise can aid in helping your loved one to avoid tough emotions that can trigger relapse.
As a concerned family member, you are encouraged to take an active part in your addicted loved one’s treatment. The more involved you are in their recovery process, the better equipped you will be to help your addicted family member when she returns home.
Family therapy is a part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program that addresses all of the parts of life damaged by addiction. Contact us at The Orchid today to learn how family therapy and other therapeutic options can work together to create a comprehensive treatment program for your loved one.
Your Part in Family Therapy
When you enroll in family therapy with your addicted loved one, you are not in the hot seat. Even if you are concerned that your addicted family member blames you for her addiction, it is not a forum for her to gang up on you with her therapist. Instead, it offers both of you a safe place to:
- Talk about past problems or arguments.
- Learn positive methods of communication that can help you both get your needs met instead of fueling anger and fighting.
- Plan for positive ways to handle your loved one’s return home.
- Benefit from the guidance of an objective third party.
- Benefit from the suggestions and therapeutic insight of a professional.
You are encouraged to vent frustrations, be honest, and to listen. The more you invest into each session, the more you will get out of it and the more your relationship with your addicted loved one will grow. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that family therapy can be hugely beneficial to creating a solid platform at home for a positive trajectory in recovery – for all in the family, not just the addicted person. Your growth is as important as your loved one’s. Keep an open mind and be as forthcoming and persistent as you can to find creative solutions to problems as they arise.
One of the primary goals of those who are working to learn how best to support a loved one in recovery is to avoid inadvertently enabling their family member’s addiction. Some relationships are toxic to an addicted person’s abilities to cope in early recovery even if the family member or friend is well meaning. It’s important to learn how best to support your loved one without causing them more problems or worsening issues that are a struggle for them. For example, family and friends are recommended to avoid:
- Nagging. Continually reminding your addicted loved one of promises they made during treatment or recovery or pushing them to make up for past wrongs can be overwhelming and trigger emotions that may move them closer to relapse.
- “Cleaning up” any messes created by addictive behaviors. If your addicted loved one is actively using drugs or alcohol or relapses and you attempt to cover it up or help them by stopping the effects of their choices from hurting them, then you are causing harm in the long run. An addict needs to face the consequences of addiction. The buffer you create only serves to lengthen the amount of time it takes for them to realize they must choose sobriety.
- Financing an addict’s addiction. In the same way, providing someone with cash that they use to buy drugs or alcohol, giving them drugs or alcohol, or paying their bills and/or living expenses means that you are essentially making it possible for them to continue living in active addiction for far longer than if you let them work it out on their own.
- Providing too much assistance. If you are helping in other ways like preparing their meals, cleaning their home, doing their laundry, and driving them where they want to go, then you are freeing up their time to focus on addiction. Allowing them to grow up and take care of themselves can move them a step closer to recognizing the need for treatment.
Additionally, family members who are struggling with an addiction of their own or who have emotional issues or other problems that are “high-maintenance” will need to look elsewhere for support during early recovery. You may have broken yourself financially or be struggling with emotional wounds that you feel are caused by your loved one’s time spent in addiction and feel that it’s time for them to make amends and “pay you back,” but placing too much pressure on your loved one by applying guilt or putting your needs at the forefront can make it difficult for your family member to move forward in recovery at their own pace.
While you are encouraged to avoid being too intrusive into the recovery of your addicted loved one, you are also invited to be aware of the choices your family member is making and recognize when they are courting relapse. Through your work in family therapy, you can learn some of the emotional and mental health issues that have the potential to trigger a relapse for your loved one. If you see her engaging in activities that put her in a position to experience stressful emotions or harm rather than focusing on positive choices that boost her recovery, you are more than welcome to speak up and voice your concern.
However, it is important for you to remember that this is her life and ultimately whether or not she relapses is her choice. You are not responsible for her recovery in any way, and you are not to blame if she relapses or returns to active addiction. Though it may be difficult to remove your personal investment in the choices your loved one makes in recovery, you can be most effective in helping her when you do your best to give her the space to make her own choices – including making her own mistakes – and be there to support her with treatment options only when and if she decides to move toward sobriety again.
Additional Family Resources
There are a number of different therapeutic options available to the family members and loved ones of those who are living with an active addiction or going through treatment. Getting involved in the community provides the benefit of support, which is something that is just as important to caregivers as it is to the addicted patient. In addition to family therapy sessions, you can take advantage of other family support and therapeutic opportunities, including:
- Educational workshops. Workshops are available to help you learn more about the nature of addiction, your loved one’s drug of choice, and the options available to her during treatment. The better you understand this chronic disease and learn how to address the threat of relapse, the more likely it is that you can support them positively throughout recovery.
- Personal therapy. In addition to supporting a loved one who is living with addiction, you need to have the space and time to focus on your own personal issues. Relationships, career, health – if it includes addressing issues with your addicted loved one, that is fine, but the focus should always be on your sense of peace, calm and balance.
- Family support groups. Other families who have been where you are and/or are currently struggling with a loved one’s addiction can provide a number of benefits to you, including the realization that you are not alone, the support of experience, and the camaraderie of peers who understand what you are going home to each day.
- 12-step meetings. These groups are not just for addicts. There is a segment of groups like Al-Anon that are dedicated to providing support for the family members and friends of people who are living with an active addiction. Meetings often occur multiple times throughout the week at different locations so you can find the one that suits your schedule and your preferences.
The Definition of Family
For many addicts, their “family” is not comprised of biological relationships but close friends who they met in adulthood and with whom they feel close. Some are romantic partners, but in some cases, it may be a longtime friend who has stood by through thick and thin that comes to family therapy. Rebuilding important relationships is the goal of family therapy, and many patients benefit when they invite the person or people whom they are closest to, no matter their biological relationships or lack thereof.
Invest in Your Loved One’s Recovery Today
If you would like to assist your loved one in taking the first step toward a comprehensive treatment program here at The Orchid, contact us at the phone number listed above. We can talk you through the process of treatment and recovery as well as help you better understand your role in your addicted family member’s healing process. We include family therapy as a part of our addiction treatment program here and also offer:
- Medical detox and treatment as needed
- Pharmacological treatment as needed
- Personal therapy
- Holistic treatment options
- Hormonal therapy
- Uniquely personalized treatment plans
- Low ratio of patients to providers
- Professionals in the treatment of addiction who specialize in the treatment of women
If you have questions about how you can help your loved one enroll in our drug and alcohol addiction rehab program here at The Orchid, call now. Our counselors are standing by to assist you.