If your loved one is living with addiction, it can be hard to wrap your head around their behavior. You may see the way it affects your life and realize you’re struggling to cope, too. If it’s time for addiction treatment, why is family therapy important?
Family therapy can help your loved one get more out of treatment. And it can educate you on addiction, stigma and its effect on your family. Take a closer look at the benefits and methods behind family therapy for addiction.
The stigma of addiction
The stigma surrounding addiction is harmful to people touched by addiction. It’s difficult enough to watch your loved one struggle with substances. It hurts, even more, to hear people calling them a “loser” or “junkie.”
Many believe addiction is a sign of personal fault or failure. Because of these views, people needing addiction treatment often feel ashamed and embarrassed about getting help. Social rejection from stigma plays into the emotional pain of addiction.
As a family, you may also catch the blame for your loved one’s addiction. Others may ask what you did to cause it or ask why you didn’t try harder to stop it. These hurtful comments can make you withdraw from others. You may be surprised to hear negative comments from the people you’re closest to.
Stigma can make it hard to know where to turn for help. You may suffer in silence as you worry about your loved one’s safety. Stigma may leave you feeling isolated and socially rejected.
Understanding your loved one
If you have trouble understanding your loved one’s addiction, you aren’t alone. Addiction is complex, and many families aren’t comfortable talking about emotional pain. With these barriers, addiction can be tough on family relationships.
Secrecy is common in families coping with addiction. Unspoken family rules influence what people say and don’t say to each other. Honest communication can be painful and hard to cope with. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable talking about some topics at first. With time and trust, this can get easier.
Families learn to mask or hide emotional pain, often through generations. But when your family learns to cope with pain together, everyone can begin to heal. Everything that helps your family will also support your loved one in treatment.
What to expect from family therapy
In family therapy, every family group is viewed as a system. When a family system has unhealthy patterns, addiction is harder to manage. It’s not enough for just the individual to get treatment. The system must also change.
Family therapy works toward these two goals:
- Teach family members about addiction and treatment. Families learn how addiction works and how it has affected their loved one.
- Help families work together. Family members learn to shift beliefs and behavior patterns in positive ways. They also learn how to cope with emotions and support each other. As the family system gets healthier, it becomes safer and more supportive.
Family therapy doesn’t take away all the problems, but it can equip each person with more knowledge and coping skills. Addiction family therapy often includes social time as well as therapy sessions.
Therapy helps families make changes in these four ways:
- Engaging family members—Helping each person see the value and purpose of therapy
- Relational reframing—Teaching family members to see problems in the context of relationships
- Family behavior change—Teaching new behaviors and skills (communicating, sharing feelings, setting boundaries)
- Family restructuring—Talking about unspoken rules and beliefs that can cause harm, promoting trust and openness
Consider addiction treatment with family therapy
If you or your loved one is living with addiction, we can help. The Right Step Houston’s family therapy program can help you navigate life in recovery. Have questions about treatment and recovery?
Call us today at 844.768.0410