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Family Therapy
Family Therapy

Addiction is a disease that affects more than just the person with the actual substance use disorder, as it is known to cause immense damage to the lives of everyone around the individual. The closest relationships often get caught up in the dysfunctional behavior that is at the heart of addiction. Drug treatment centers Nevada offer family therapy programs to repair damaged relationships and help families function more effectively so that they can actively participate in the recovery of their loved one.

Addiction and Family Dynamics

Addiction specialists have learned that the family dynamic of those struggling with substance abuse problems undergoes profound changes that are created as defensive mechanisms for the members. In order to restore health, trust, and peace in the family unit, as well as build a strong support network for the person in recovery, family therapy must be sought out. The individual with the substance abuse problem always has the first goal of maintaining relationships that support their addiction. Other members of the family may play other roles, either to defend the addicted individuals or to protect themselves against their actions. Over time, these roles can cause increasing disruption and dysfunction in the family. Family therapy can help to change behaviors so that the individual with the addiction is a part of a structure that supports his or her recovery, rather than supporting the addiction.

Family Roles in Addiction

As the process of addiction becomes ingrained, family members often take on specific roles to keep the group together:

  • The user – The individual’s only goal is to continue the support that feeds the addiction.
  • The caregiver – Often called the “enabler,” this person defends the addicted person and goes to great lengths to deny the problem.
  • The lost child – This person stays out of the way, trying to not create more problems and often denies his or her own feelings and needs.
  • The hero – The hero does everything in his or her power to maintain the family unit, often denying the addiction problem or covering up for the addict.
  • The scapegoat – The scapegoat in an individual who diverts attention from the addicted person with his or her own outrageous behavior.
  • The mascot – The mascot is the joker of the family, who tries to keep the situation light and happy, even while sensing the deep problem that is occurring.

When a member of the family is suffering from a drug or alcohol dependence, the entire family structure can go into chaos. Legal problems, financial issues, misunderstandings, lying, cheating, and stealing are just some of the common events that can occur during the day in the life of a family dealing with addiction. These events can cause lasting feelings of anger, resentment, fear of the future, social embarrassment and other emotions that require therapy to overcome, so that the family can function in a healthy manner again. Family therapy can be critical to a person’s recovery because the support and assistance of these relationships can be instrumental in sustaining abstinence over the long term.

How Family Therapy Can Help

Family therapy offers a structured environment where members can learn about and discuss the problems of having an addicted member in the group. It allows them to deal honestly with their feelings and encourages them to repair the broken trust and damaged relationships that addiction often brings. Families begin to recognize their own actions in helping the addiction and learn new ways to interact to help the addicted individual remain abstinent.

Family therapy provides a number of functions in helping an individual and his or her family recover from addiction:

  • It encourages the individual to take responsibility for getting treatment for the addiction.
  • It helps family members to acknowledge the addiction and the damage it has caused to the members.
  • It allows members to air grievances in a safe and controlled environment so that they can heal old wounds.
  • It educates family members about addiction and what they can do to help sustain the recovery of their loved one.
  • It provides practical skills for dealing with problems as recovery continues and offers resources for additional help.

Continuing Care after Treatment

The individual and the family often need to continue on in therapy after treatment in order to prevent them from falling into old roles that can support continued substance use. Therapy can ensure that each member of the family is dealing honestly with their emotions and their interaction. It can help families to heal after the stress of addiction.

If addiction has caused chaos in your family group, contact an addiction treatment center in Nevada today to discuss options for family therapy and treatment that can restore your closest relationships to normalcy.