Addiction: A Family Disease
Experts often refer to addiction as a family disease, and with good reason. While not all households contain more than one addict, it doesn’t take more than one to result in dysfunction within the family unit. The addict’s loved ones suffer a great deal of pain and hardship. Some are victims of theft or abuse at the hands of the chemical dependent in the family, while others simply struggle with the torment of watching a loved one slowly poison themselves. Regardless of the particular family dynamic, family therapy helps both the addict and their family to move on with love and acceptance.
Involving the Family Members
Family therapy helps the addict in the family by getting the rest of the family members involved. The family must learn not to enable their loved one, but they must also learn to set boundaries in a way that supports the addict’s recovery. This can be a difficult balancing act, especially when the addict is in early recovery and many of the wounds left by their old lifestyle are still fresh on the family’s minds. Counselors can help the family members to identify aspects of their family dynamic that might make this transition more difficult, facilitating communication between the family members so that everyone feels equally heard. This helps everyone find common ground, and the addict is able to gain the support they need in their recovery without stepping on any toes or pouring salt on old wounds.
The Family Must Recover, Too
The dependent in the family is not the only one who must recover from their addiction. Due to the stresses undergone by the rest of the family, many of them will have their own internal battles to fight. While it is often suggested that family members utilize the help of support groups, family therapy takes a more direct approach to the issue by addressing codependent behaviors or unhealthy communication styles as they present themselves during the session. It is important for the family to support the addict’s recovery, but it is equally important that they preserve their own well-being. The promotion of self-care through family therapy is one well to help the family accomplish that.