Family Counseling Key to Recovery from Addiction

October 27, 2008 by admin 

Addiction destroys families. But positive family relationships and the meaningful participation of family members are key components of the recovery process. In addition, family counseling can offer family members the opportunity to start on a path to emotional health and wellness. Family members can benefit from counseling, whether or not the addicted individual ultimately commits to recovery.

In a family struggling with addiction, blame and guilt often become the primary themes of communication. Addiction places an enormous amount of stress on the family structure, and puts the family on an emotional rollercoaster. Some family members withdraw from the group, some (knowingly or unknowingly) facilitate the addict’s behavior, and some family members just feel angry, sad, depressed, and helpless. Family roles, responsibilities, and relationships can become tangled and confused. Family counseling can teach families how to stop guilt and blame, reclaim their roles and relationships, and stop feeling helpless.

Family counseling offers a safe way for wounded family members to address their fears, trust issues, anger, frustration, and hopes for the future. It also offers family members a way to learn more about what their loved one may be experiencing, and how they can best help that loved one on his journey toward recovery. Some benefits experienced by family members as a result of active, meaningful, and constructive participation in the recovery of a loved one can include:
• Finding hope about their own and their loved one’s future;
• Being educated about their loved one’s substance use and understanding how it may interact with other issues, such as mental and physical health;
• Having supportive relationships with others in the family and community who are caring and do not judge;
• Feeling connected to people who are important to them;
• Being informed about their loved one’s progress;
• Accepting that their loved one’s journey through life has taken a new course;
• Understanding that if relapses occur it does not mean that their loved one has “failed” or lost previous gains;
• Viewing relapses as a chance to help their family member get back on her path to recovery;
• Learning how to set and enforce healthy boundaries in their relationship with their recovering family member, as well as other family members;
• Regaining a sense of control over their own lives;
• Learning to have a life of their own, with meaningful and relaxing time to themselves to engage in activities that are pleasurable, stress-relieving, and fulfilling, and learning to do so without anxiety or guilt; and
• Discovering or revisiting strong spiritual, philosophical, or religious beliefs, and recognizing that these may help them get through difficult times.
Research has shown that recovering addicts who receive meaningful support from family members, particularly in the form of family therapy, are more likely to continue in treatment, take prescribed medication, make positive choices, make progress in individual counseling, avoid relapse, and realize recovery.


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