How Can My Family Heal From Addiction’s Effects
Dealing with and healing from substance abuse isn’t a solitary process. Addiction not only affects the family member misusing substances, it affects the entire family. When one person in a family is functioning at an impaired level, the other members of the family will often take on roles that allow the dysfunction to continue.
Think of a family like a working clock with gears and cogs that fit together to make the clock function properly. Each member of the family is a different gear in the clock’s mechanism, working in conjunction with the others to keep things running smoothly. However, when one gear is damaged or not functioning properly, the whole mechanism changes. Each gear might take on more work or need to function at a faster pace to keep the clock working. Gears and cogs start to grind against one another and damage each other. Or perhaps the clock will break down altogether and quit working. This is how a family works. When one member starts behaving in ways that upset the system, it can throw the whole dynamic of a family into turmoil.
When the addict enters treatment, their family’s pain and trauma do not just go away. Oftentimes a family can remain stuck in unhealthy patterns. This is true even after their loved one has begun their journey of recovery. Family intervention with targeted therapy can help heal these patterns.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are two main goals in family therapy. “One goal is to help everyone give the right kind of support to the family member in behavioral health treatment, so that recovery sticks and relapse is avoided. The other goal is to strengthen the whole family’s emotional health, so that everyone can thrive.”
They go on to note that each family is unique. This means goals and objectives will vary on a case-by-case basis and may change over time. However, there are certain family objectives that are consistent. SAMHSA outlines these as family therapy goals as:
- Distrust to Reconciliation
- Guilt to Forgiveness
- Stress to Strength
- Frustration to Understanding
- Despair to Hope
- Sadness to Support
- Anger to Peace
- Conflict to Agreement
- Crisis to Resolution
Families can expect positive changes and a myriad of benefits from engaging in family therapy. This has the potential to help families heal in profound ways as they progress toward sobriety and healing together. Here are some benefits to participating in family therapy:
- Gain a deeper understanding of the nature of addiction and how it affects behavior.
- Become aware of your unique family dynamic and the specific patterns that hinder sobriety.
- Improve communication among family members, learn how to identify emotions and effectively communicate them. Family therapy will guide you in expressing these emotions in a balanced and honest way.
- Regain trust. Substance abuse and dishonesty cause pain and distrust within a family. Loved ones feel wary of becoming vulnerable and build walls to protect themselves. Honest interaction during family therapy will create positive changes on the road to regaining trust.
- Learn how to set healthy boundaries.
- Learn methods of self-care. In addiction treatment, the focus lies on the individual suffering from addiction. However, during family therapy, family members get to discover how they can heal, too.
Family therapy is an integral part of healing a system that is broken or damaged. All members of a family would benefit from the chance to process their pain, learn positive coping skills, and mend emotional bonds with their loved ones. If you or your family could benefit from family therapy, please reach out to us today at 1-888-986-7848