The effects of addiction are numerous and varied. When a person becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs, he or she becomes nearly incapable of rational thought. Even the most good-natured, family-oriented individuals can become addicted to mind-altering substances, causing them to sacrifice their relationships, careers, financial stability, their physical and emotional well-being, and potentially even their very lives. Moreover, addicts spend their lives in a constant state of fear and desperation; they fear withdrawal, making them perpetually desperate to obtain the money they need for their next fix and keep withdrawal at bay for a little while longer. In effect, addiction causes such an encompassing transformation that most individuals barely resemble their former selves while in the throes of active addiction.
Most people have a very clear, vivid idea of what addiction does to a person. They imagine the physical effects and deterioration of one’s health, the loss of one’s job and even one’s home, resorting to criminal behaviors in order to sustain a substance abuse habit while living on the streets. While this does happen to countless individuals, there are actually many cases of an individual’s addiction having almost as dramatic an effect on his or her family as on the addict his or herself. In fact, addiction is often referred to as “the family disease” due to the profound effect that it has on an addict’s loved ones, which is why family therapy is frequently incorporated into addiction treatment programming.
What Exactly is the Purpose of Family Therapy?
Although therapy usually evokes the image of a person lying on a couch while telling a therapist about his or childhood, there are actually many different types of psychotherapy. For instance, there are many types of experiential therapy in which an individual participates in a certain activity while a therapist makes inferences based on the patient’s behaviors. Additionally, there are types of therapy that involve groups of patients rather than a single patient. When the group of patients are members of a single family, it’s called family therapy.
Family therapy has been utilized for some time as a means of addressing the problems that a family might be facing. The basis for family therapy is that one member’s issue, whether it’s physical or psychological, will inevitably affect family members. In other words, an entire family will experience a certain level of effect(s) due to the problems or issues of a single member of that family. This tendency for one family member’s problem to affect the family as a whole can be extremely problematic when the problem is something particularly serious that could jeopardize the mental and physical well-being of each family member, the stability of the family unit, the family’s safety, and so on.
Addiction & the Family Unit
Being frequently referred to as the family disease, addiction frequently has a tremendous impact on an addict’s family. As an individual’s substance abuse problem begins evolving into an actual addiction, he or she will often experience a dramatic change of behavior that is noticed by his or her family; however, individuals developing addictions will do anything they can to keep their substance abuse a secret from their family members, which frequently means a lot of lying and dishonesty. As the substance abuse becomes worse, an addict becomes increasingly desperate due to having become financially unable to sustain the alcohol or drug abuse on his or her own. The result is that many addicts will begin resorting to stealing or other criminal behaviors, even stooping to victimizing their own family members if that’s what it takes to get their next fix. Over time, the effect that an addict’s substance abuse has on his or her family cannot be overstated.
Helping Families to Heal from the Effects of Substance Abuse
While in an addiction treatment program, many individuals will be offered the opportunity to invite their families for family therapy sessions. These sessions are meant to help restore peace, understanding, and communication to the family unit. While the addict is in the throes of active addiction, his or her behaviors, and poor decisions cause a turbulent mix of emotions among family members, including things like resentment, worry, anger, sadness, disappointment, stress, and so on.
With most of these feelings going unresolved for long periods of time, the family unit can be stretched to nearly the point of breaking. However, family therapy achieves many positive, beneficial things for families affected by addiction. It affords families a means of better understanding addiction, including how to support an addict’s recovery. Family therapy is also a time when codependency and enabling behaviors can be identified with individuals learning alternative behaviors that won’t jeopardize the addict’s recovery. Additionally, family therapy teaches members of families how to empathize and communicate with one another in a respectful way, which is essential as families move forward with addicts who are trying to sustain their sobriety.
Help is a Phone Call Away with Recovery Hub
There’s not a “right way” to achieve sobriety and abstinence. Recovery is a very personal journey that can take a number of different forms. It’s important for each individual beginning the recovery process to have a thorough understanding of his or her needs and find the most appropriate, effective treatments. That’s where we come in. Recovery Hub is here to help those in need find their ways back to health, happiness, and fulfillment. For more information about recovery and the available treatments, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352. One phone call is all it takes to free yourself from the chains of addiction.