Addiction is considered a family disease. While the focus of intervention and treatment is on the addict, the family also plays a role in the development of a loved one’s addiction. In drug treatment and during drug treatment, both and addict and family need to come together to address the family member’s addiction and how the family as a whole contributed to their addiction. The addict and their family gain valuable coping skills to heal through family therapy. Most importantly, family therapy provides a safe, supportive environment for the addict to grow in their recovery.


If you or a family member is struggling with substance abuse, family therapy is absolutely critical in helping the family heal as a whole. This article will further explain the role family plays in addiction and define family group therapy. Also, we will discuss how family therapy is used in treatment. Importantly, you will learn where you can find family therapy services.


How Do Families Affect Substance Abuse?

When a loved one develops an addiction to substances, it does not occur in a vacuum or happen overnight. Addiction is a gradual and progressive disease that develops from a wide range of factors. Of those factors, the family environment is perhaps the most common that leads to the development of substance abuse. Perhaps the most prevalent family-related factor leading to substance abuse issues is a family history of drug use and abuse or family members who are currently abusing drugs and alcohol.


In the absence of a family history of using substances, there are other ways families affect substance abuse. For example, some family members may engage in enabling behaviors in order to protect the addict and shield them from the consequences of their behavior. In other cases, a family member may adopt a hero role and take on the responsibility of caring for the addict and their family. The family hero works tirelessly to “keep up appearances” but often burns out mentally and physically—and they may turn to substances to cope.


Additionally, there may be a family member who is the scapegoat. This family member or members often causes trouble because they feel tremendous jealousy towards the addict and the attention they receive in the family. Scapegoats create problems, and their actions deflect attention from the issue at hand. There may also be a family member or members who avoid “rocking the boat” and suppress their feelings to not cause worry. Family members in this role can also develop substance abuse and even mental health issues down the road.


What is Family Therapy?

Given the complexity of the family’s role in the development of a loved one’s addiction, drug treatment must have family therapy as part of the treatment plan. Family therapy is a type of counseling where family members come together to resolve conflicts and improve their communication skills. This type of therapy is based on psychotherapy and administered by an experienced psychologist, therapist, or clinical social worker. Family group therapy is most often done in the nuclear family unit, but can also include stepfamily and extended family members.


As already stated, the goal of family group therapy is to open the channels of communication in order to improve communication between family members. Another important goal is to improve the home environment to the degree that the newly sober addict feels safe and nurtured as they work their program of recovery. Family-centered therapy is short-term, and its duration is dependent on the willingness of family members to work on addressing the issues that enable addiction to occur. Family therapy occurs in a group setting, but there may be times when the therapist will meet with family members in a one-on-one setting.


How is Family Therapy Used in Rehab?

Like many therapies offered in Northern California rehab, family therapy can be appropriately modified depending on the treatment setting. In a residential treatment setting, family therapy is done in a group setting and can be done on weekends or by appointment. Usually, the therapist will meet with family members alone and then will conduct a group session. The times and frequency in which family therapy is conducted is determined by the addict’s willingness to become involved in the therapy process.


In an outpatient setting, family group therapy also includes one-on-one meetings as well as group meetings. Family-centered therapy in this setting is more educational and focuses on areas where the family may want to work with a therapist more closely on issues. Family therapy may be done in an outpatient setting as a step down from a residential program. Additionally, family-centered treatment may be done in outpatient therapy as a form of aftercare.


How to Find Family Therapy Programs

Fortunately, most if not all drug rehabs offer family group therapy programs. However, it may be challenging to choose the right rehab that provides the services and programs you and your family need to help heal from the devastating effects of addiction. If you are looking for evidence-based family therapy programs in Northern California, Singing Trees Recovery is your first choice. We offer family group therapy programs as well as other proven and effective programs that are proven to work and can be customized to meet your needs.

Begin your journey to wellness and sobriety today and call Singing Trees Recovery toll-free today.

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