Family Therapy is Important in Recovery

Recovery from addiction often begins on an individual level but is most often improved when families get involved in strengthening and supporting the person in recovery. Addiction is referred to as a “family disease” because it impacts every member of the family in some way. Further, addiction can be triggered or perpetuated by family issues or contention as well. Thus, successful addiction recovery often involves family therapy to strengthen the individual in recovery.

Eric Patterson, MSCP, NCC, LPC, in the article Family Therapy: A Vital Part of Addiction Treatment, indicates that “Family therapy refers to a group of treatment styles that target the group rather than the individual within the group. All of the styles are based on the notion that families share a connection, and by modifying one component of the system, you can affect the other components. This means the health of a family can play a major role in the success of recovery” (Eric Patterson, drugabuse.com).

Family therapy can be combined with other types of therapy. In other words, if an individual is in recovery and is participating in individual therapy, they need not stop that to join in family therapy sessions as well. Just as group therapy is often used in addiction recovery (where individuals who are in recovery go to therapy together), family therapy can be participated in simultaneously with individual therapy. Further, sometimes the issues that a family struggles with can be resolved or worked on in family therapy which can prevent further members from struggling with addiction and can strengthen the family into a more cohesive unit to support and lift. Often, it is also healing for family members to discuss how an addict’s behaviors have impacted them as well— even though they may not have struggled with addiction.

As far as the benefits of family therapy are concerned, Patterson offers the following key points about benefits of family therapy in recovery:

  • Assists the substance user to gain awareness of their needs and behaviors.
  • Improves the mental and physical state of the entire family unit.
  • Permits family members to gain self-care interventions to improve their own well-being.
  • Improves communication styles and relationship quality.
  • Helps families understand and avoid enabling behaviors.
  • Addresses codependent behavior that may be preventing recovery.
  • Helps to learn and understanding the systems in place that support and deter substance use.
  • Prevents the substance use from spreading throughout the family or down through future generations.

Overall, family therapy in recovery is often a vital part of an individual’s success in

overcoming addiction.

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