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What Role Does Family Therapy Play in Addiction Recovery?


family in group addiction therapy

Addiction doesn’t only affect the individual abusing drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse affects a person’s entire family and all who love them. Helping to repair those relationships with loved ones can play a major role in the individual’s long-term sobriety. For this reason, family therapy is considered an important element in anyone’s recovery plan.

According to WebMD, studies show that when someone in recovery engages in family therapy they experience lower relapse rates. Family therapy may also improve the family’s happiness, as well as help children to manage having a parent with an addiction.

A Focus on Relationships

Unlike individual therapy, which is centered on the thoughts and behaviors of the person with the addiction, family therapy is focused on understanding how substance abuse is part of the family’s interaction and how to repair damaged relationships.

Addiction can dramatically impact the stability of a family and is particularly problematic for children, increasing their risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol themselves in the future. One goal of family therapy is to help family members learn to make positive changes that will improve not only their family relationships but also their home environment. Adjusting to a loved one’s recovery from addiction can take time, and family therapy offers a safe place to process those changes.

Components of Family Therapy

There are several components of family therapy that can be helpful when combined.

  • Family engagement is centered around ensuring that family members are involved and invested in the therapy. Typically this helps establish goals for all the individuals involved at the beginning of treatment.
  • Relational reframing aims to help individuals move away from defining problems and begin to learn how to generate solutions. The hope is to move toward a better understanding of their relationships based on better understanding motivations for behaviors.
  • Family behavior change is centered on altering the behavior of family members. This can include teaching family members new skills and behaviors that can help improve their interfamilial relationships. Examples of these skills could include assertive communication skills, enforcing limits, negotiating rules and boundaries, and better expressing feelings, among others.
  • The final core component is family restructuring. This aspect of family therapy deals with shifting the underlying rules of how the family functions by giving family members an understanding of how their previous actions may have contributed to problematic behaviors.

Benefits of Family Therapy For Addiction

The benefits of family therapy are many. Not only does family therapy improve an individual’s chance of long-term sobriety, but it can also repair and improve relationships that have been damaged by addiction.

Family therapy offers loved ones an opportunity to learn about addiction and how it affects the entire family. Sessions can also help individuals and their families understand how addiction treatment works and what they should expect when the treatment is concluded, as well as giving family members the necessary skills to help their loved one stay sober.

For an individual in recovery, family therapy can become another means of support. Therapy sessions can help them stay motivated and engaged with their individual treatment, as well as treat ongoing mental health challenges.

Finally, family therapy provides a space to process any feelings of anger, fear, or stress that may be connected to a loved one’s addiction. One major benefit of family therapy is improved communication among family members.

Even with the assistance of family therapy, relapse remains a risk. It is important for the person in recovery and their family members to recognize that relapse is often a part of recovery. While it was once viewed as almost disastrous, relapse is now seen as a learning opportunity. Relapse offers the individual a chance to review their existing recovery plan, figure out what went wrong, and create a new option to develop whatever missing skill resulted in the relapse. The person and their family should focus on the positive gains that they have made and not view relapse as a failure.

Building on a belief that spiritual development and healthy recovery can bring inner peace to clients overcoming addiction and substance abuse, Into Action Recovery Centers takes a people-centered approach to addiction treatment. We’re conveniently located in Houston, Texas, and our rehab programs are led by experienced master’s level counselors and medical professionals who specialize in personalized treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

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