Addiction – It’s A Family Affair

Many addiction specialists worldwide refer to substance dependency as a “family disease” – and anyone who has had a family member suffer from alcohol or drug addiction will concede without hesitation this fact. The family plays a central role in the treatment of substance abuse, seeing as the interdependent nature of familial relationships makes it so any one individual suffering from the disease of addiction will inevitably have an effect on those they live with and love. The purpose of family therapy is to intervene in the complex interactive patterns that have persisted within the family, and alter them in ways that will prove productive for everyone involved.

Addiction Affects Everyone

In many instances, the role the family plays in the life of the individual afflicted with addiction will change drastically immediately prior to the intervention – considering one is held. If part of a standard, in-person intervention, the family will meet with the interventionist before the addict or alcoholic is brought into the picture, and will be asked to formulate boundaries and ultimatums. In many cases, the true dysfunctionality of the family will be revealed during this step in the process. It is not uncommon for families to be so accustomed to living with personified disease that the unit as a whole will not properly function once the addict has gone to treatment. For this reason, it is usually important that the family of an addict seek counseling as well.

Once an addict or alcoholic is safely in an inpatient facility, the inclusion of the family in regular therapy sessions becomes an essential part of the overall recovery process – for everyone involved. Families will sit down with a licensed therapist and discuss issues that are directly related to the exacerbation of the addiction, such as codependency, lack of boundaries, and manipulation. Frequently, other family members will struggle with addiction as well, thus they may be recommended 12-step meetings or regular counseling in order to help protect the sobriety of the individual in residential treatment. Al-Anon meetings will also be highly recommended for family members of the addict. These meetings are geared towards those whose loved ones are suffering from the disease and they have been proven extremely effective in both coping and understanding.

Help Is Available For The Whole Family

While the disease of addiction is undeniably the most immediately devastating to the afflicted individual, the family of an addict or alcoholic will likely suffer overwhelming emotional and mental destruction. It is crucial that when one member of a family seeks help, the rest follow suit and heal and recover alongside one another to prevent falling into the same damaging patterns that lead to the initial familial downfall.

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