Addiction is a Family Disease
Many people see addiction as one person’s battle against drugs, alcohol, and their inner demons. However, spouses, children, and parents are also affected by a loved one’s substance abuse. Addiction’s devastating effects – such as legal troubles, financial strain, and emotional damage – can impact other people just as much as the addict themselves.
Peaceful, loving families are often divided by substance abuse. The behaviors associated with addiction, such as secrecy, frequently disappearing, lashing out, and spending money without explanation, erode trust and create stress. Family members see the way that their loved one feels and acts as a side effect of drugs and alcohol. This can be traumatic and upsetting.
Because addiction affects everyone in the household, it is vital that all members of the family unit participate in the recovery process.
Learning a “New Normal”
Once the addicted person enters treatment, family involvement, therapy, and education can begin. These two components are crucial for accountability, improved communication, and restored relationships in the future.
Family therapy helps loved ones to process what they have gone through over the duration of their family member’s addiction. Substance abuse is a progressive condition – this means that it gets worse over time, not better. It can be incredibly painful to watch your parent, child, or spouse get sick and behave strangely for years at a time. Many family members may feel exhausted, fed up, and directionless. This is when therapy is especially helpful. Speaking with an addiction specialist enables people to work through their feelings and emotionally recover from a loved one’s substance abuse.
Family education is another critical part of the process. When treatment concludes and your loved one returns home, it’s important to know how things should change. Educational programming can prepare family members to help, not enable, and to assist their loved one in meeting milestones and maintaining sobriety.
How Family Involvement Keeps People Sober
Research shows that family involvement and engagement can be a key to lifelong recovery. Involving loved ones increases accountability and support after treatment. When addiction specialists, people in recovery, and their families collaborate, quality of life and clinical outcomes improve.
Specifically, incorporating the family has been shown to…
- Improve access to treatment,
- Increase participation in care,
- Improve integration of care into daily life, and
- Create better outcomes.
Studies comparing standard outpatient treatment with and without family psychoeducation yielded significant results. Researchers found that family involvement resulted in up to a 75 percent reduction in rehospitalization. Additionally, the family members experienced improved health: there was a 50 percent reduction in doctors’ visits for family caregivers that year.
A family-focused approach may take many forms, depending on the treatment center and individual preferences. It may be as simple as driving your loved one to appointments or even participating in sessions with them. Developing a thorough understanding of addiction and learning how you can contribute will help you to identify signs of relapse, provide extra support, and begin healing.
Breaking the Cycle
Family involvement is a well-established treatment intervention for addiction. This approach addresses substance abuse and its effects through the context of the family unit. With clinical support and education, it is possible to rebuild relationships, set boundaries, and improve the chances of long-term recovery.
At The Augustine, we help you to break the cycle of substance abuse. We understand that connection is the opposite of addiction; that’s why we have created a unique, comprehensive family program. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, families are invited to participate in counseling, therapy, fellowship, and fun. Additionally, we provide weekly family alumni calls during which you can hear featured parents discuss what they have experienced and learned.