How Therapy Can Help the Family Disease of Addiction
July 26, 2019
Disease is something that can make or break a family. From cancer and heart disease to HIV and Alzheimer’s, when one family member has a disease, it is almost like the rest of the family has it, too.
In some instances, disease can bring families together in one united front, while in other cases it can tear them apart. When it comes to the disease of addiction, it is often the latter that occurs.
No matter the substance that is being abused, when someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, he or she is behaving and operating in ways that are not conducive to a happy personal life, never mind a happy family life. For instance, when frequently under the influence, an individual can say things that are hurtful to those around him or her, as well as become aggressive, violent, secluded, or deceptive in behavior.
What can come from that is resentment from others for careless words, anger from unacceptable behavior, and a schism in the family that puts some on one side and some on the other. And even though the person who is using is likely the source of the majority of this chaos, he or she can still suffer from broken family bonds and hurt feelings that stem from the dysfunction in the family.
What Can the Disease of Addiction Take From Families?
The disease of addiction often acts like another family member amongst loved ones. It takes on its own identity and affects everything within its path. When an actual member of a family is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it is not just the bonds that he or she share with his or her family members that break, but the bonds amongst other members of the family can deteriorate as well.
As addiction starts to cause financial, legal, professional, and personal consequences, it starts to eat away at important family values, including the following:
- Trust. Not only does it become near impossible to trust the addicted family member based on his or her behaviors, but members of a family might begin to lose trust in each other because of how they are handling the loved one’s addiction.
- Respect. Addiction will challenge a family’s values, morals, and ethics and push them to the brink. Family members can experience friction with one another if they do not stay within those same values, morals, and ethics. Like trust, once respect is gone, it can be extremely difficult to get back.
- Self-confidence. Being part of a family with a member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can shake one’s confidence right to the core. It can become easy to question one’s own actions, thoughts, and behaviors when around the type of chaos that addiction can bring.
- Serenity. In families where addiction is occurring, serenity is something that can quickly go right out the window. Until one’s addiction is under control, serenity is something that will be impossible to achieve unless family members set firm boundaries and get the help they need to manage this problem.
How Family Therapy Can Help
Family therapy has proven to be one of the most effective approaches to addiction treatment available. Not only does the person recovering from addiction participate in this therapy, but so do other willing members of his or her family. When given the time and space to address the impacts of addiction, families can begin to work through the challenges they face in an effort to build a stronger, healthier family unit.
Above all else, family therapy can help those in need just by including a professional into the mix. Having someone to guide and mediate conversations between family members can help lead everyone towards solid solutions. Plus, the therapist can also provide the family more education and information on why addiction is a family disease, helping everyone to begin to better understand how they got to the point they are at.
Family therapy does not solely focus on talking about everyone’s emotions as they pertain to their situation. Instead, family therapy places great value in helping families develop skills that can aid in the restoration of a working family unit. Some of the skills that family therapy can provide clients include the following:
- Setting boundaries. The disease of addiction will continue to creep in if no boundaries are set. It is important for all members of the family including the recovering user to learn how to be comfortable in boundary setting to help maintain healthy relationships and avoid common family issues such as codependency and invasion of privacy.
- Restoring security. Families impacted by addiction often struggle with feeling unsafe both physically and mentally. The unpredictability of a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can shake individuals to their very core, which is why going to family therapy can help. This type of care will focus on identifying what makes each family member feel safe and what actions can be taken to promote that safety.
- Improving communication. When families do not talk amongst themselves, it can be easy to see an increase in disagreements, fights, grow resentful of one another, and even make poor in-the-moment decisions based on emotion rather than information. Family therapy not only discusses the benefits of clear, open communication, but it also shows families how to implement healthy communication techniques within their own homes.
JourneyPure Knoxville Can Help Your Family Right Now
Watching your family go through addiction can be absolutely devastating. The good news is that you do not have to sit back and watch the chaos unfold until everything is destroyed. Instead, you and your family can seek professional treatment that can restore your family’s functionality.
If you need help, do not hesitate to contact us right now. We are always here to help substance users and their families recover from this deadly disease and move forward with their lives.
Contact JourneyPure Knoxville today. We can help.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.