Addiction is a family disease, meaning not only does it affect the person struggling with the addiction directly, but it can also impact those closest to the individual. Families suffer trauma when someone they love is going through an addiction, and they often take on various unhealthy roles when this occurs. Going to counseling together or having at least one member go can make a difference in mending family relationships. This way, families don’t have to suffer longer than they need to and can start the process of healing together. Learn about family counseling so you can know what to expect and understand the benefits it can have for you and your family.
What is Family Counseling?
Family counseling brings together different members of an individual struggling with addiction’s immediate family to work on the relationships between them and administer healing to the overall family unit. This type of counseling aims for family members to feel validated in their experiences, talk about what is happening, be educated, and start the healing process together. Family therapists base their practice on the belief that problems exist between people rather than inside of individuals. Resolving those problems can help the family begin to come back together.
The family will be educated on addiction, such as how it starts, how it continues, treatment, and understanding that it is a chronic disease. It will also teach the family about the various roles that members typically take on and identify them. The therapist can then guide the family on how to break out of these roles to support their loved one through recovery.
Family counselors can also work as interventionists, where they make a plan to encourage the loved one to seek treatment. An interventionist needs to understand the dynamics of familial relationships and be able to moderate the conversation.
What are the Benefits of Family Counseling?
The family unit is crucial in developing addiction just as much as it impacts a person’s recovery from addiction. The family is caught in a cycle as they are influenced by their loved one’s addiction and struggle with their own daily lives and concerns. It is usual for family members to grow resentful of one another during this tumultuous time, so addressing these issues with a professional’s help can moderate the conversation will bring about great results.
One way this is done is through addiction education. Many family members do not understand addiction, believing stereotypes such as it involves a lack of willpower, and the person is just choosing to keep using. By teaching the family how addiction impacts the brain and causes a person to continue using even if they may not want to, the family can begin to empathize with their loved one and better support them on the counselor’s advice.
Another benefit of family therapy is being taught coping methods for yourself while struggling with a loved one suffering from addiction. Finding out that someone you love and care for is struggling with something so difficult can be traumatizing, so finding ways to cope that work for you is crucial. This way, you can look out for yourself and ensure you are in a stable place to look out for your loved one as they go through treatment.
Family Counseling as Part of a Treatment Program
Many drug and alcohol treatment programs across the United States have begun, including family counseling within their facilities and services. In recent years, it has been identified and accepted that the family unit is largely affected by addiction, and the role it plays will influence a person’s recovery. When the family comes together for therapy, members of all ages may be there, including parents, spouses, siblings, and children in the family. Sessions cover various skills the family can learn involving communication, self-care, and more. Each is individualized and tailored to that specific family to give the best chance at healing.
Over time, the family will learn specific skills that will help rebuild family dynamics. As the bonds begin to strengthen, so will these skills. The family must continue to work together to rebuild and help their loved one get clean if they want any chance of success. The skills they learn in family counseling include:
- Regulating emotions
- Managing your expectations
- Coping techniques
- Education about addiction
- Learning roles within the family unit
Family counseling is a crucial and necessary part of the recovery process from drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a family disease in that it affects the person consuming drugs or alcohol and their loved ones. Often, families take on various roles when they learn a loved one is struggling with addiction. These roles can be detrimental to each other’s mental health and erode the family unit’s relationships. Family counseling can help repair this by educating the family on addiction, such as how it affects the brain and what treatment involves. Family counselors can also teach valuable skills such as communication, trust, accountability, and more. These skills will help the family slowly but surely rebuild their unit and learn to support their loved one as they go through recovery. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we want to give our residents the best chance to recover, which involves offering family counseling. To learn more about our program, give us a call at 866-DETOX-25.