According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the genes that one is born with an account for about 50% of his or her risk of developing the addiction. Drug addiction and alcoholism traumatize the entire family, and trauma can affect an individual for a lifetime in the absence of intervention through a treatment program. Family members have to deal with great anxiety because they live in an environment marred by manipulation. Sometimes they can even feel like they are losing their sense of self.
The Dynamics of Family Addiction Treatment
Addiction can, and often does, take a toll on those closest to us. This is the case irrespective of the number of individuals in the family suffering from addiction. In an effort to cope, families will start hiding the truth from others or lapse into denial of the problem. Genuine connections are lost, unpleasant conversations are avoided, and our loved ones suffer from feelings of intense shame and guilt. These coping mechanisms are among the main obstacles that family addiction treatment faces. The recovery process needs to involve the whole family because even if just one member is addicted to drugs or alcohol, everyone suffers. No matter whether a nuclear or extended family is meant, the fact is that all the members have a significant impact on the choices made. Thus, they can help or hinder the addict’s recovery process. Ultimately, family rehab is aimed at building a solid foundation for long-term sobriety.
Structure of Family Rehabilitation Center Therapy
These therapy sessions are not like family gatherings – they follow a set structure. At the beginning, the addict or addicts meet with a counselor to discuss their history of abuse and its effect on the ones closest to them. In some cases, treatment is entered into after a formal intervention, where family members describe their impressions of the addiction and how it has affected them. They also describe the intervention in the first therapy session, which serves to give the therapist a solid grasp of the major players within the respective framework and their role in the addict’s life. The therapist will sometimes offer family counseling as well.
Things to Know Before Starting Family Rehab
The first obstacle is keeping the client in treatment. Most addicts coming into treatment wish to leave it prematurely. This happens most frequently in the first few days when the addict is undergoing detox, and this is causing discomfort in the household. It is at this point that professional intervention is most crucial. The patient’s family must be strong enough to say no to them when they demand to come home. This can mean desperate measures, such as cutting access off to funds and refusing to take the patient’s phone calls. Another hurdle involves the counselor himself – some rehab centers do not offer family counseling. Here are some things a patient and his or her loved ones need to know before signing up for treatment:
- What is the counselor’s experience with this type of problem?
- Is the counselor licensed by the state?
- Is the center available in an emergency?
- How much will therapy cost?
- Is the counselor accredited by a professional therapy organization?
- Does the family rehabilitation center accept insurance payments?
Consequences of Untreated Addiction
When facing a problem as complicated as substance addiction, the seemingly logical decision to do without therapy may be taken. However, this is the worst decision people can make, because untreated addiction has dire consequences. These affect the younger family members the most. For example, children of addicts can develop a general sense of anxiety, depression, emotional constriction, traumatic bonding and loss of trust. Children who are forced to make sense of the frightening experience of dealing with a parent or sibling’s addiction will develop a distorted reasoning system as adults. Breakdowns in primary relationships, such as between a parent struggling with the addict and a child, will cause the child to lose trust in people. Perhaps the most severe consequence, however, is that the child will replicate the behavior he or she has observed in the home and begin abusing drugs or alcohol. He or she may also engage in other high-risk behaviors, such as casual sex, reckless driving, fighting, out of control spending, and the desire to self-medicate as a means of dealing with pain.
Forms of Family Addiction Treatment
There is a wide variety of therapy forms, which are based on four salient models according to data of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The first one is known as the systems model. According to this paradigm, families tend to become pathologically organized around the notion of substance abuse. As a result, they unknowingly lock the suffering member into addiction, and this continues until the organization changes. According to the disease model, the entire family needs to change in order to stop the addiction process, because substance abuse impacts every member. The multidimensional model finds that families are far from the only factor in the addiction process and takes into account outside pressures such as school, work, and society in general. Finally, proponents of the cognitive behavioral model believe that dysfunctional interaction between relatives, poor or non-existent problem-solving skills, and poor communication all reinforce substance use and abuse to an equal extent. Therapy at rehab centers is based on one or a combination of the four models.
Types of Family Rehab Facilities
Some therapy sessions at rehab facilities include work in small groups with the recovering addict, his or her parents or spouse. Other sessions exclude the addict because their relatives have issues of their own to resolve and changes of their own to make. A professional counselor leads these sessions at the therapy center, and they are always civil and constructive.
Beachway Therapy Center
The staff of Beachway Therapy Center accept that recovery cannot be expected unless the patient’s closest relatives are addressed as well. Dealing effectively with addiction is a skill that can be learned and practiced daily, and indeed has to be if one really wants to heal from the trauma of addiction. The treatment program is free to patients’ relatives. Beachway offers everything from partial hospitalization to outpatient services and is able to offer customized treatment plans that meet the medical and clinical needs of each patient. The program duration varies, with most patients staying between 1 and 3 months. The center offers a very low patient to therapist ratio and can thus address comorbid conditions, which frequently occur – for example, both drug and alcohol addiction. Help for families is available in a safe, residential-like environment. Among the methods of therapy used are Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Process Group Therapy, and Holistic Therapy.
Familylinks provides long-term residential treatment for women over 18 and their children. These professionals help mothers improve their parenting skills, learn recovery skills, become healthier, and preserve or repair family relationships. Women can bring up to two of their children to this rehabilitation center, and women on medication-assisted treatment such as methadone are also welcome. This center specializes in comorbid disorders, such as co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. It offers onsite child care, private rooms for clients and their children, group therapy once a day, individual therapy once a week, and personalized goal plans. Children play games and attend school if appropriate.
Family Addiction Treatment – Dare to Have Hope
While individual addiction counseling sessions focus on the client’s addiction and how to control it effectively, the therapy sessions for relatives will focus on the dynamic relationships between everyone involved. Here, the focus is less on the individual and more on the system. For instance, the counselor and client might discuss how stress at the workplace tends to increase cravings for alcohol or drugs. In family therapy sessions, a topic of discussion could be how stress at the workplace spills over into the home, making the whole family feel angry or insecure and causing even more stress. A family is like a cobweb – touching one string resonates throughout, making the whole web ripple. Bringing this interdependence to the attention of clients and their relatives can foster appreciation rather than fear of the complexity of addiction, invariably leading to a desirable treatment outcome.