Substance use disorders (SUDs) can often be traced generationally through a family’s history. However, this doesn’t mean that a person with a family history cannot overcome drug or alcohol abuse.
Though it’s ultimately a person’s decision if they want to overcome an SUD, they may receive help from many different avenues during the recovery process.
One of many possible mental health interventions, family therapy has long been used in drug and alcohol rehab centers as an effective treatment method.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a form of addiction therapy that focuses on improving communication and resolving conflicts within family systems.
The goals of family therapy programs include increasing family involvement and improving family support in helping a person overcome mental illness and drug addiction.
It also aims to address relational dynamics and how family members influence each other’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Family therapy was pioneered by several early theorists, including Murray Bowen, Nathan Ackerman, and Salvador Minuchin, in the 1950s and 1960s, and has since evolved into various models and approaches.
How Family Can Influence The Risk Of Addiction
The role that family members play in a person’s drug or alcohol addiction varies. Sometimes families unknowingly contribute to substance abuse issues.
The Genetics Of Addiction
The genetics of addiction refers to the role that genetic factors play in predisposing people to developing an SUD.
Specific genes can influence a person’s vulnerability to addiction, having an impact on their response to substances, neurotransmitter functions, and risk of dependence.
However, genetics is just one component of a complex interplay of biological, environmental, and psychological factors contributing to addiction in families.
The Family Environment And Substance Abuse
The family environment also plays a significant role in substance abuse.
Family dysfunction, lack of support, poor communication, and substance use normalization can contribute to an increased risk of addiction.
Simply having particular substances around the house can also serve as a risk factor for substance use.
For example, in a recent survey involving people who misuse opioids, 60% did not have a prescription, almost half of whom obtained the drugs via a family member’s or friend’s prescription.
Conversely, a supportive and healthy family environment can serve as a protective factor, promoting resilience and reducing the likelihood of substance abuse.
Addiction And Intergenerational Trauma
Addiction and intergenerational trauma have been connected through research, with unresolved trauma from previous generations influencing addictive behaviors in later generations.
Traumatic experiences can perpetuate negative coping mechanisms and patterns of substance use within a family, highlighting the importance of addressing both trauma and addiction in comprehensive treatment approaches.
Benefits Of Family Therapy In Addiction Recovery
People entering addiction treatment programs may have a myriad of feelings toward their family members.
Family therapy can help people overcome family grievances, set healthy boundaries, and build support.
Strengthens Communication And Trust
Strengthening communication and trust is crucial to improving relationships and resolving conflicts. Open and honest communication fosters understanding and empathy.
This can lead to healthier dynamics, increased support, and a safe environment where family members can address issues and work together toward healing and recovery.
Helps Resolve Trauma
Family therapy encourages families to identify and address past traumatic experiences that may be impacting their emotional well-being and relationships.
By processing and healing from trauma together, family members can develop greater empathy and support for each other, fostering healthy family relationships.
Builds Coping Skills
Coping skills in family counseling and therapy involve teaching family members constructive ways to manage stress, conflict, and challenges.
Developing effective coping strategies enhances resilience and communication within the family, fostering healthier responses to issues and promoting overall well-being.
Reinforces Relapse Prevention Strategies
Clients can find help preventing relapse through family therapy. This is done by educating members of the family about triggers and warning signs of potential relapse.
Collaboratively, the whole family develops strategies and support systems to help the loved one in recovery maintain sobriety and navigate challenges.
This strengthens the family’s role as a protective factor against relapse. Support groups for family members, such as Al-Anon, can also help family members be there for each other.
Approaches To Family Therapy In Addiction Recovery
Clinicians and other staff in addiction treatment facilities may use different approaches to family therapy.
A family therapist may administer sessions through intensive family therapy sessions or in an individual therapy setting. Below are common forms of family therapy.
Behavioral Family Therapy
Behavioral family therapy (BFT) is an approach that focuses on identifying and modifying maladaptive behaviors within the home environment.
It emphasizes communication skills, problem-solving, and reinforcement strategies to improve interactions and resolve conflicts, aiming to foster positive changes within the family unit.
Multidimensional Family Therapy
Multidimensional family therapy (MDFT) is a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that targets substance abuse and related behavioral problems in adolescents.
This type of family therapy addresses individual, family, peer, and community factors, using cognitive behavioral and family systems techniques to promote positive changes.
Structural Family Therapy
Structural family therapy (SFT) is a therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and restructuring unhealthy family patterns and hierarchies.
SFT aims to improve family organization and communication, creating healthier relationships and resolving conflicts within the family system.
Systemic Family Therapy
Systemic family therapy (SFT) is a collaborative and strengths-based approach that views families as interconnected systems.
By understanding family dynamics, communication patterns, and roles to address issues and promote positive change, this therapy emphasizes the impact of the family system on individual behavior and well-being.
Overcoming Possible Challenges In Family Therapy
Some possible challenges in family therapy include resistance from family members, communication barriers, and deep-seated conflicts.
To overcome these challenges, therapists can help families build rapport, demonstrate empathy, and create a safe environment for open dialogue.
Addressing resistance with motivational interviewing (MI) techniques can help engage reluctant family members.
Using active listening and reframing can enhance communication. Additionally, employing various family therapy models and tailoring interventions to specific family needs can facilitate progress and successful outcomes.
Where Can I Receive Family Therapy?
Family therapy services are available in various settings, including private practices, community mental health centers, hospitals, and addiction treatment clinics.
The following addiction treatment options offer family therapy:
- standard outpatient treatment
- intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
- partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
- residential treatment
- inpatient treatment
Find A Drug Addiction Treatment Center Today
You or a loved one can learn more about addiction treatment options and find a treatment provider by calling us today.Article Sources
- National Library of Medicine
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- PBS NewsHour
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)