By Sandy Baker
Drug addiction is a very personal challenge in the lives of those who face it. It changes people, turns lives upside down, and causes turmoil on all fronts. But drug addiction is not just about the individual: it affects every member of the family, even those who don’t live in the same household. Effective addiction treatment includes some form of family therapy.
Why Is Family Therapy Important?
Families – especially those living in the same home as a person with addiction – often face changes and challenges when a loved one is using drugs. Sometimes, the person with the addiction doesn’t see these changes. It’s easy to be self-absorbed when a drug is controlling most of your thought processes and behaviors.
Family members may be so focused on getting help for their loved one that they don’t think about their own need for additional help and support. Take a look at a few common myths about family addiction therapy–do any of them sound familiar?
Myth 1: My Family Isn’t Dysfunctional
“It’s his fault he used drugs, not ours.”
“My family is normal. She’s the only one with the problem.”
Statements like these are common when a family isn’t ready to see their role in the drug and alcohol recovery process. But family therapy isn’t about finding fault or pointing fingers. Family therapy is about rebuilding relationships and overcoming the mental and emotional obstacles in the way of letting that happen.
Many people believe that drug addiction only happens in dysfunctional families or broken homes. That’s not the case. Addiction happens in all demographics and environments. Most often, the person using drugs isn’t able to stop using until a family member reaches out and offers the support needed.
Myth 2: I Know What I Need to Do to Help
Most people don’t understand addiction, drug use, or alcohol use. They don’t see the underlying mental health issues that may have led to the addiction. They don’t know how much they don’t know about addiction.
During family therapy, you’ll learn more about addiction and how you can help. Your education may include:
- Understanding what triggers are and how they work
- Knowing when to call for immediate help
- Learning how to provide support and motivation through difficult times
- Learning how to talk to each other without guilt and pain
- Working through the damage addiction has caused in your life
Myth 3: We Don’t Have Anything to Talk About
It can seem a bit of a relief when a loved one goes into treatment. You’re happy that they’re finally getting the help they need. What do you have to worry about now?
The fact is there’s much to talk about within family addiction therapy. It’s very important for you and your loved one to work out difficult situations and to get through the anger, guilt, frustration, and even hate that may have developed. Therapy will allow you to talk about any of your concerns in the relationship..
Therapy can also help you make difficult decisions:
- Is it possible to repair this relationship?
- If so, what is it going to take?
- If not, what are the next steps?
Getting help now, while your loved one is in residential treatment, for example, ensures you know what to expect when your loved one comes home. You also have an opportunity to prepare mentally for the challenges ahead.
Family addiction therapy is an opportunity to start the healing process. Your loved one feels guilt, pain, and discomfort. They worry about the future. Family therapy can help. At The Ranch at Dove Tree, we offer family therapy as part of our addiction treatment programs. We can also help you find additional resources so you feel supported–and prepared to support your loved one.