Substance abuse has become a significant concern in this day and age. While in the past, the main issue was alcohol, nowadays, we are also dealing with lots of dangerous drugs that cause addiction. Thankfully, there are many addiction treatment centers and programs out there that provide help to those in need. You must acknowledge that you have a problem and seek out one of these facilities. But undergoing addiction treatment is not the most challenging part. The hardest part is remaining clean afterward. And this is where family plays a vital role. However, long-term addiction can also harm family relationships. Therefore, mending them should be a top priority. To better understand this, take a look at some of the benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

Understanding family therapy

Before diving into the benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment, you first need to understand the meaning of family therapy. As opposed to individual therapy, which focuses on the addict, family therapy focuses on all family members and the relationships between them. Specifically, family therapy includes various therapeutic interventions meant to help the addict mend his/her family relationships.

One of the best benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment is that it educates the family

It can be very difficult for people who are not struggling with addiction to understand what an addict is going through. Family members often think this is a choice and not a disease. Therefore, they don’t realize how hard it can be to quit alcohol or drug abuse. Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of family therapy is that it educates family members.

Thus, family members familiarize themselves with the disease and how it affects the addict’s behavior. On the one hand, this will help them understand the addict’s past behaviors. On the other hand, they will learn how their behaviors can be harmful or triggering for the addict. But at the same time, it also helps the addict understand the impact of his/her addiction on the rest of the family. Once everyone knows what they’re dealing with, they will be more understanding and open to solutions.

Caption: Family therapy helps educate family members on addiction.

Alt: A man reading a stack of books to educate himself on addiction.

It helps improve communication

Active communication is the key to maintaining healthy relationships. Unfortunately, people struggling with substance abuse tend to shut down and isolate themselves from family members. And they do this for many reasons. For example, they might want to try to hide their addiction from their family, or they are ashamed and don’t want to be judged. But no matter the reason, the lack of communication harms family relationships.

In this case, the benefit of family therapy is that it helps identify and eliminate communication deficits. A specialist can provide various tools and exercises that improve your family’s communication skills. By doing so, all family members can better express their feelings, thoughts, and needs. Which, in turn, can make everyone more understanding and empathic.

Caption: One of the great benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment is that it improves communication between family members.

Alt: A young family member having a pleasant conversation with an older family member.

It helps improve behavior

When it comes to addiction, family members often don’t know how to behave. And this is perfectly normal since they haven’t faced anything similar in the past. Some people choose to ignore or deny the issue, thinking that it will simply go away. Others decide to alienate the addict, thinking that this will determine them to seek help. At the same time, some enable the addict’s behavior. Unfortunately, all these types of behaviors only worsen the situation. 

Family therapy is beneficial both while undergoing substance abuse treatment and afterward in recovery. Because as previously mentioned, staying clean later is the most challenging part. A family therapist can teach family members how to support the recovering addict without enabling or triggering their behavior. And in what concerns the recovering addict’s behavior, the addiction treatment experts at advise enrolling in an aftercare program. Such programs can teach coping mechanisms for staying clean and can provide additional support when needed.

It helps strengthen family relationships

While abusing alcohol or drugs, the addict often lies, cheats, and hides things from the other family members. And this, in turn, causes family members to lose trust in that person. At the same time, if the family members reject the addict during the substance abuse, this also leads to a loss of trust.  So, the role of family therapy is to help rebuild trust through communication, forgiveness, and empathy. And to work on any unresolved conflicts and feelings of resentment.

Caption: Family therapy helps rebuild trust and strengthen family relationships.

Alt: Family members happily hugging each other.

It helps the addict stick with recovery

Apart from learning about the disease, family therapy also educates the family on recovery and relapse. If the family members are aware of the addiction triggers, they can help the addict stay clear of them or cope with them. Furthermore, they’ll be able to identify the signs of relapse early on and seek help before things go too far. Moreover, family therapy enables all parties to set individual and collective goals supporting long-term recovery. 

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

Substance abuse is a life-long battle. Therefore, whether you have an addiction or you have a family member struggling with it, it’s crucial to get expert assistance. For example, when dealing with drug abuse, there’s no generic treatment that works for everyone. It all depends on the duration, intensity, and object of the addiction. So, you can’t manage this complex disorder on your own. Therefore, drug rehab is the best solution. Of course, even this can’t guarantee there won’t be a future relapse. Thus, going to family therapy and enrolling in aftercare programs are equally important. And you should never be ashamed to seek help when needed.

Final thoughts

Alcohol and drug addiction affect a significant percentage of the world’s population. And the worst part is that while there are various treatment options, there is no cure. Therefore, addicts have to struggle with this their entire lives. And there’s always the risk of falling off the wagon. Moreover, addiction harms the other family members as well. It can affect their lives in ways they don’t even realize. Not to mention that it’s hard to be the support system of a recovering addict. However, family therapy can help. As you’ve seen, there are many benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment, so why not give it a try?

Meta description: Are you struggling with addiction? Learn about the benefits of family therapy in alcohol and drug addiction treatment.

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