Family therapy encompasses a set of therapeutic approaches that attempt to use a family’s strengths and resources to help them live without drugs or alcohol. It also helps to reduce the harm of addiction on both the substance abuser and their family.
Addiction doesn’t affect the substance abusers alone, and the causes of substance abuse can be varied and complex. Family issues can contribute as well as perpetuate addiction, which is why addiction is sometimes referred to as a family disease. Therefore, successful treatment often incorporates the family of the person who is struggling with addiction.
Family therapy refers to several treatment styles that target the group instead of an individual within the group. All of the styles are based on the idea that families share a connection, and if you modify one component of the family system, you can affect other components. This means that the health of a family can have a major impact in the success of an individual’s recovery.
Family sessions can take a variety of forms, including:
- Private family sessions with a therapist and one or more family members
- Group sessions with patients and their loved ones
- Family education sessions (family activities)
- Individual counseling for spouses or children of recovering addicts
- 12-step meetings for the addicts’ families, such as Al-Anon and Alateen
Historically, someone who is in recovery for addiction would receive treatment independently, often removed from their home, community, and family, but in recent years there has been a shift towards a more integrated approach to treatment that focuses on the family environment as well as the individual. This approach has been shown to provide high benefits with low costs and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and US Department of Health and Human Services recommend that family therapy be incorporated into any substance abuse treatment programs.