How Can Family Therapy Help My Recovery?

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If you are reading this, you are likely wondering how family therapy can enhance your recovery experience. You may believe that treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) should be a personal journey. However, the effects and consequences of your substance use have likely impacted your entire family. Thus, it can be incredibly valuable to incorporate family therapy into your treatment program.

The Value of Family Therapy

At Pathways Recovery Center, we recognize the value that family therapy can have on your ability to achieve and sustain sobriety. Recognizing the impact that your substance use has had on your family members is a crucial step in the healing process.

Family therapy provides a safe space for your family to work through any challenges and concerns that may arise during treatment. It can also help your family process past trauma.

The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Family

According to an article published by Social Work in Public Health, your “family remains the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization.” This is true not only during childhood but often well throughout adulthood as well. Therefore, when one family member is affected by alcohol and drug use, the entire family unit is impacted.

The article explains, “Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her.” Moreover, young children and siblings may experience increased risks of developing SUD later in life.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness

Another way to recognize the impact of your substance use on your family is by familiarizing yourself with the eight dimensions of wellness. These include:

  1. Physical wellness
  2. Emotional wellness
  3. Intellectual wellness
  4. Spiritual wellness
  5. Social wellness
  6. Occupational wellness
  7. Financial wellness
  8. Environmental wellness

These dimensions are important not only for the individual, but also for the family. Undoubtedly, all eight dimensions are affected by substance abuse. Your family's well-being in these areas will be compromised by the substance abuse of any of its members. Although you may feel guilt or shame as you recognize the effects of your substance use on your family, remember that this is a necessary part of the healing process.

If you attempt treatment and recovery on your own, your family may continue to experience the consequences of your substance use long after you are sober. However, by involving your family in your treatment, you are giving them an opportunity to heal too. Family therapy can help your loved ones heal together in all dimensions of wellness.

The Goals of Family Therapy

What is family therapy, and what are its goals? An article from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry explains, “Family therapy is a structured form of psychotherapy that seeks to reduce distress and conflict by improving the systems of interactions between family members.”

Contrary to what you may believe, family therapy sessions are rarely centered on identifying underlying causes of a specific illness or disorder that a family member may experience. Rather, sessions are geared toward finding effective solutions to recurring issues that arise within the family unit.

The aforementioned article explains that “Usual goals of family therapy are improving the communication, solving family problems, understanding and handling special family situations, and creating a better functioning home environment.” Some specific benefits of family therapy include the following.

#1. Fostering Conflict-Resolution Skills

Like many others, you may have felt compelled to engage in substance abuse to treat or resolve family conflict or dysfunction. You may have experienced toxic dependency or other forms of unhealthy interpersonal dynamics.

As you work to establish your sobriety, you may find that continued family conflict and misunderstandings hinder your recovery progress. In this case, family therapy can be extremely beneficial in fostering effective conflict-resolution skills.

#2. Exploring Family Dynamics

Family therapy can help your family unit explore family dynamics. During family therapy sessions, members are encouraged to identify and work through personal triggers. They are also encouraged to help other members understand how to best support one another during this process.

If a parent or sibling is struggling with enabling your substance use, your therapist can help your family to work together to avoid enabling behaviors. The therapist can also help members support one another through their experience of other mental health disorders. In therapy, your family can work together to assign more appropriate expectations of behavior and family roles to ensure that all members are on the same page moving forward.

#3. Becoming Educated About SUD and Mental Illness

Another benefit of family therapy is that it can provide accurate education about SUD and recovery.

You may feel misunderstood, judged, or stigmatized for your substance use. Other mental health disorders you have may also leave you feeling misunderstood.

If your family is willing to attend family therapy, they can learn how addiction and mental illness affect a person's brain and behavior. They can learn how to empathize with what you are experiencing in treatment. This can help them trust your willingness to establish and sustain lasting sobriety.

Utilizing Family Therapy in Treatment

It is important to understand that you must continue to participate in individual therapy and other one-on-one treatments in addition to pursuing family therapy. This will ensure that you are giving yourself the space and time to heal. Regardless of your family's willingness to be involved, you can improve in all dimensions of wellness.

Attending individual therapy emphasizes your dedication to healing. This can serve as encouragement for your family to participate in family therapy together. Pathways Recovery Center is dedicated to assisting you and your loved ones on your journey to wellness.

The effects of your substance abuse have likely impacted your entire family. Family therapy can help your family work through these effects as well as foster long-lasting healing and wellness for all family members. Some of the most valuable goals of family therapy include improving communication, strengthening conflict-resolution skills, providing education about substance abuse and recovery, and effectively exploring family dynamics. At Pathways Recovery Center, we understand the impacts of substance use often stretch far and wide. We offer a plethora of treatment programs and services to ensure that you and your family get the professional attention that they need to achieve lasting healing. To learn more about how we can help you, call: (888) 771-0966.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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Call: 1 (888) 711 0966

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