Treating a Family Disease
One person’s addiction impacts more than just that individual. Everyone involved in that person’s life can be affected by the ramifications of addiction. The addict’s family, in particular, can struggle with the challenges involved in their loved one’s behavior. Family members may experience stress and disruption, both on an individual level and as a group. The effects of a person’s addiction can even reach those family members who are not engaged with the addict on a daily basis or who do not live in the home with the addict. Likewise, addiction recovery involves the family as a whole as well.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, as do addicts. Each family member plays a different role within the whole. Parents worry about their children – and children worry about their parents. Siblings recognize and attempt to cope with each other’s behavior. Whether the addict is a child, a parent, or a sibling, all of those around that person will be impacted in some measure.
Think of a typical family dynamic, in which a child may be struggling with an issue at school, for example. The child’s problem is not his or hers alone. Family members, including parents, siblings, grandparents, and possibly even aunts, uncles, and cousins can feel the effects of the child’s behavior changes. Emotions are strained as the family empathizes and attempts to cope with the challenges. The child is not expected to overcome these challenges alone, but rather the family typically interacts as a unit in a positive way to help that child become more successful.
It is important to recognize that addiction can happen in any family, regardless of background, economic status, or education levels. It is also critical to be honest with family members about the nature of the addiction and the plan to address the behaviors caused by the addiction – as a family.
Developing Coping Strategies
An addict’s family members typically develop unhealthy coping strategies of their own. Enabling and overachieving are two strategies that parents, siblings, and other family members often engage in as a way to cope with their loved one’s addiction.
If you have a family member who is struggling with addiction, how do you and the rest of your family cope? Do you make excuses for the addict’s behavior? Do you overcompensate for the addict’s negative actions? Perhaps you feel actual physical pain yourself, possibly as a result of the intense stress involved or because of the draining range of emotions you feel on a daily basis.
You are not alone. Coping strategies in struggling families often include:
- Enabling the addict – fixing problems or simply making the problems go away so the addict does not have to deal with them.
- Accommodating the addict by adjusting the family dynamic – not inviting friends over when the addict is home, for example.
- Avoiding conflict with the addict’s behaviors – doing whatever it takes to keep peace in the family.
Family-focused addiction recovery can help you and your family members learn healthier coping strategies. We work with you to rebuild trust and to develop ways to express and address negative emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, and guilt in a safe and positive environment.
The process of recovery requires an understanding of the many ways that addiction affects your family. It also involves learning new skills and strategies that need to be put in practical application on a daily basis. We help families learn those skills and employ those strategies by involving them in therapies specific to their needs:
- One-on-one sessions
- Group therapy
- Family counseling
- Support groups
Family-Focused Recovery Goals
Although specific objectives are different for every family, there are two main goals in family therapy:
- Providing the proper tools and support for all family members so they, in turn, can provide appropriate support to the addict
- Strengthening the family as a whole, particularly when the family may be torn apart over the challenges of addiction.
Family recovery therapy can help reunite broken families and strengthen the bonds between family members when you are coping with an addict’s behavior. Open and honest communication can rebuild the trust that may have been lost within your family. We also work on ways to be able to forgive others for their actions when they are in the throes of addiction.
Recovery that involves the addict’s family can help the family learn more about:
- The source and nature of the addiction
- The recovery and treatment process
- Ways to support the addict in a non-judgmental and supportive manner
- Healing as a family unit and as individuals affected by the addiction
Contact South Miami Recovery to Get Started on Treating Your Family as a Whole
Learn more about the benefits of treating your family disease. South Miami Recovery offers family therapy to help your family through family-focused addiction recovery. Contact South Miami Recovery by calling 305.661.0055 to learn more about how we can help.