If you suffer from substance use disorder, you may think that you’re the only one affected. Maybe, for example, you believe that by putting substances in your body, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. Therefore, why should it matter how others feel?
However, some time in recovery will inevitably show you just how drastically affected families are by the drinking and/or drug use of a loved one. Luckily, most treatment centers offer family therapy as a way to begin repairing relationships and building trust and understanding.
Unfortunately, when it comes to substance use disorders, the mind has this unique ability to distort reality. Thought processes become more and more centered around self, the deeper the addict gets into their addiction. Eventually, the sufferer will find themselves in a full-blown victim mentality and any obstacle or challenge experienced is automatically the fault of another.
In effect, this isolates the addict from their friends and loved ones, ultimately perpetuating their drinking and/or drug use.
Just as isolation feeds addiction, reconnecting with friends and family, and building social support feeds recovery. Working through the things that kept you and your family at odds during your addiction can be crucial for your recovery process. Engaging in this work opens the mind to new perspectives and offers insight into the experience of those close to you. As a result, your thinking will naturally shift from selfish to considerate of others.
Of course, we all have family problems. However, recognizing that addiction is a family disease and educating all parties involved opens the doorway to healing. Family therapy is a common route taken to achieve these goals. When both the addict and the family can work together to improve communication and resolve conflicts, the results can be incredible.
Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist. These individuals have graduate degrees, postgraduate degrees, or some sort of qualifying credentials. Additionally, family therapy is typically short term and may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. The goal of family therapy is to rebuild relationships by promoting understanding and deepening connections within the family system.
Family therapy helps improve strained relationships by increasing understanding and compassion. It is a safe place where you can air out specific issues such as marital or financial problems. You can directly address conflicts that have occurred between a parent and a child and have a guided discussion about the effects of substance abuse.
Family therapy can be useful for situations that may arise later in the recovery process as well, including grief, anger, and conflict. When each family member commits to their own growth and recoveries, the coping skills that they learn will translate into all aspects of life.
Family therapy brings several family members together for a therapy session, however, a family member can also see a one on one therapist for themselves. These family sessions typically last around 50 minutes to an hour. Usually, family therapy is short term, averaging in about 12 sessions. The frequency of the sessions and the number of them depend on what each family situation is needing with the recommendation of the therapist.
In family therapy, you will have the opportunity to do the following:
If your loved one is struggling with substance use disorder it can take an enormous toll on a family. The caretakers typically blame themselves as the reason their loved one is struggling when in reality, substance use disorder is a mental illness.
While there are some genetic predispositions, there is no evidence to suggest that you catch it from someone through genetics or because of an environmental factor. The person who is suffering doesn’t understand why their family suffers because they believe they are not affecting anyone.
They also believe their family doesn’t care about them. Family therapy can help establish a platform for healthy communication where members can be vulnerable and honest with each other. They can set individual and group goals and create plans for how they are going to achieve them.
It can be a helpful platform for the family to get a better understanding of why the person suffering is doing what they are doing, as well as help put things into perspective for the person who is suffering the substance use disorder.
Al-anon is a 12-step program that can help anyone who is affected by someone who uses substances. Gatherings take place all around the world and the community is growing by the day. If you are interested in attending an Al-anon meeting, the internet is a great resource to find one near you.
Substance use disorder is a family disease which means the family has to get better as well. Luckily at The Kimberly Center, our trained professionals offer family therapy in addition to one on one therapy. We are committed to helping you rebuild and heal your family. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, call (855) 452-3683. Today can be the day that you get your life and your family back. We can help.