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Helping to Repair Family Relationships
Family plays a fundamental role in addiction recovery, Many, if not most, of those who suffer from addiction have a whole group of loved ones that suffer right alongside them. As the addiction gets worse, family relationships get more and more strained, often escalating to downright dangerous situations. It’s not uncommon for those who are battling a particularly serious addiction to engage in extreme behavior like physically or verbally attacking loved ones or stealing money from them.
Even after a patient leaves treatment, and are completely committed to their recovery, their families might be hurting from the damage they did when they were actively abusing substances and be reluctant to embrace them; the trouble with this is that the more difficult a patient’s transition is after recovery, the more vulnerable they are to relapse and perpetuating the entire cycle of substance abuse. Unresolved family issues can make it very hard for a person in recovery to thrive and grow.
Living with an addicted loved one can be traumatic and it’s important that those impacted by their loved ones’ addiction get help as well. Many drug and alcohol rehab facilities offer family therapy while patients are still in the program. This allows patients to get a head start on repairing their relationships with their families so they have the groundwork laid prior to leaving treatment.
What Does Family Therapy Involve?
Though each program is different, the fundamental purpose of family therapy is to start repairing relationships early so patients have an easier time transitioning to life after treatment. This is accomplished through a number of exercises, including:
- Confronting the Damage Caused by Addiction through Counseling
- Educating Families on the Disease of Addiction
- Helping Families Determine their Role in the Recovery Process
- Establishing Boundaries and Conditions Regarding Transition
Patients and their families will work to together with patients’ therapists to develop a plan of action that outlines expectations and conditions of recovery. These rules will help to strengthen the dynamic and eventually repair the family structure.
Separating the Person from the Addiction
The damage that substance abuse and addiction inflicts on a family often takes years, if not a lifetime to get over. The dysfunction, violence and insecurity that chemical dependency injects into a household mandate that victims get comprehensive help; part of this process is recognizing that this trauma occurred through no fault of their own. Another part is learning to distinguish between the addict and the behavior in which they engaged when they were abusing drugs or alcohol. Addiction robs sufferers of their ability to make decisions for themselves. Without treatment, chemical hijacks a person’s brain chemistry and makes them do things they would never normally do otherwise; this may not lessen the impact of what they did, or make it hurt any less, but it can provide the basis for understanding once they get clean.