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Family Therapy for Addiction

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Family therapy for addiction can play a valuable role in a comprehensive treatment program that addresses all components of substance use disorder and its consequences.

When applied to those with addictions and their family members, this form of psychotherapy or talk therapy aims to equip individuals with communication skills and conflict managements techniques to help improve relationships within the family.

 

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Those in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction will attend counseling and therapy sessions in both individual and group settings, as well as in the form of family therapy. During one-to-one sessions, the person grappling with an addiction will focus on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. During family therapy sessions, by contrast, the therapist will shine a light on relationships between family members. 

The core goals of family therapy are to: 

  • Strengthen bonds within the family.
  • Validate the experiences of all members of the family.
  • Start repairing damaged relationships.
  • Educate all family members about addiction and recovery.
  • Add greater clarity to interpersonal relationships within the family.

What is Family Therapy for Addiction?

Each year, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) publishes data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most current data (NSDUH 2020) reports that 40 million U.S. adults had a substance use disorder in 2020, and 28.5 million met the criteria for alcohol use disorder in that same year. For both alcoholism and drug addiction, this represents a significant increase since 2019. 

Per TIP 39 ( SAMHSA’s treatment improvement protocol for substance use disorder treatment and family therapy), there are many potential interventions involved in family therapy, from assessment to involvement.

A family therapist will attempt to treat the behaviors of the family as a unit. Even though the family consists of individuals making their own contribution to the family dynamic, the central focus of therapy is the family group.

Family therapy is typically a short-term process that may or may not involve all members of the family. You will be free to explore the dynamics of your family as your therapist guides you regardless of how many of your family members attend sessions. 

In addition to engaging with all family members in group sessions, the therapist will also spend time with each family member individually. 

Of the many types of family psychotherapy, these are the most common approaches:  

  • Systemic therapy: Systemic therapy involves the therapist maintaining a neutral approach while observing. The focus of this form of family therapy is on hidden meanings and unconscious communications.
  • Bowenian family therapy: For those in recovery who do not want their families to be involved in the treatment process, Bowenian family therapy can be effective. This form of family psychotherapy can be delivered on a one-to-one basis while focusing on the family unit. The same therapist may see all family members individually, or therapy may be limited to the individual in recovery.
  • Strategic therapy: Strategic family therapy enables all members of the family to discover new tools for growth, both individually and as a family unit. The therapists takes a direct approach in this form of family psychotherapy.
  • Structural therapy: Structural family therapy can be effective for parents diagnosed with substance use disorders. With this intervention, parents remain in their positions of authority with the therapist adopting a more passive approach.

What are the benefits of family therapy for drug addiction and alcoholism, then? 

What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction?

Engaging with family therapy for addiction could deliver the following general benefits: 

  • Strengthen your closest relationships.
  • Identify any problematic areas in your family dynamic.
  • Improve overall communication skills.
  • Promotes conflict resolution and conflict management.
  • Imparts new insight and understanding.
  • Builds coping skills for dealing with challenges and stressors.

There is empirical evidence indicating these benefits of family therapy for addiction: 

  • Reduces the risk of relapse in recovery.
  • Improves overall treatment retention.
  • Increases awareness of the warning signs of relapse.
  • Supports family members of the individual with an addiction.
  • Deepens understanding of the impact of addiction on the family unit.
  • Builds on the personal strengths of family members.
  • Helps each family member to take responsibility for their personal wellbeing.
  • Raises awareness of the recovery process.
  • Streamlines family members making positive changes through behaviors and communications.

What to Expect During a Family Therapy for Alcohol Addiction and Drug Addiction

Typically, several family members will attend group sessions of family psychotherapy. This intervention can be delivered individually, although it will often be less effective than when the therapist has chance to address the whole family unit. 

Family therapy sessions will last for around one hour. A short-term psychotherapy intervention, you can expect to attend up to twelve sessions. In these sessions, you will:

  • Establish the unique strengths and weaknesses of your family.
  • Explore roles and rules within the family unit, as well as any patterns of behavior that trigger conflict.
  • Provide and identify solutions to issues within the family.
  • Impact family members with the skills necessary to defuse conflict, solve problems, and express their thoughts and emotions proactively.

How will you achieve this?

What Activities and Approaches Will Your Family Therapist Use?

The therapist acts as a guide and observes while taking notes as the natural dynamics of your family manifest. 

As therapy proceeds, you will discover how to interact with family members more effectively. 

Family therapists may use any of these approaches:

Family Therapy at California Detox

Here at California Detox, we offer treatment programs for the following conditions: 

  • Alcoholism (alcohol use disorder)
  • Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
  • Mental health disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, and depression
  • Dual diagnosis (co-occurring addictions and mental health conditions)

Family therapy is available as a central component of all the above treatment programs. No two addictions are alike and all mental health conditions are unique. As such, we feel it essential to offer treatment programs at all levels of intensity, from remote rehab and traditional outpatient programs through to IOPs (intensive outpatient programs), PHPs (partial hospitalization programs), and residential rehab. 

When you engage with a treatment program at California Detox’s luxury rehab in Laguna Beach, you will have access to a personalized array of the following interventions: 

  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Supervised medical detox
  • Psychotherapy – CBT or DBT
  • Holistic therapies

When you are ready to let our team of experienced and passionate professionals guide you from detox to discharge and beyond, call California Detox at 949.567.8790.

FAQs

According to the family systems model of addiction, the family is a unit rather than a collection of individuals. Per this theory, all personal issues become family issues, including addiction.
Family therapy can improve treatment retention and minimize the likelihood of relapse for the person with an addiction. Additionally, this form of intervention can raise the understanding of addiction and recovery within the family, while also improving the communication skills and conflict resolution skills of each family member.

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