Why the Whole Family Needs Recovery from Addiction
One of the most insidious aspects of addiction is that it is isolating; in addition to ruining people’s finances, causing adverse health outcomes, and risking lives, it drives a wedge between the individual struggling with addiction issues and the people who care about them. In this sense, addiction is a family disease. At Lakeview Health, we are firm believers in the “family-disease” model of addiction, which looks at substance abuse as an illness that affects the entire family. This means that in a very real way, the whole family – not just the individual who is using substances – needs recovery from addiction.
If you or someone you care about needs help with an alcohol or substance use issue, don’t hesitate. Reach out to the addiction and mental health specialists at Lakeview Health using our convenient, secure online form or call us at 866.704.7692.
Codependency and Recovery from Addiction
Family members of the person with an addiction may develop a condition called “codependency,” which causes them to enable the substance use of their loved one. Addiction researchers have been aware of the role that families can play in substance abuse treatment for decades. This relationship can be complicated.
In short, family members can be a source of help and support in the treatment process, but only when they also provide accountability. In other words, they must manage the consequences of the IP’s addictive behavior while ensuring that the individual battling addiction takes responsibility for their actions. Individual family members may be genuinely concerned about the individual’s substance abuse, but family members have their own goals and issues that must be taken into account as well. The point is that providing services to the whole family can undoubtedly improve the overall likelihood of recovery from addiction.
Recovery from Addiction for the Whole Family
Including family members in the addiction treatment of the identified patient can sometimes result in difficulties. On some occasions, for instance, family members don’t accept that addiction is a disease. They think of addiction as a character flaw,” says Lakeview Health family therapist Ken Wynn. “Or they view addiction as a condition that affects mostly the addicted patient.” They argue that addicts are the ones who used drugs or alcohol, so they are the only ones who need treatment. Family therapy needs to address this and other misconceptions about addiction to enable family members to support their loved ones’ sustained recovery. Lakeview Health offers families the opportunity to participate in a three-day family workshop. The workshop is a group session with several families. “The first day is mostly educational,” explains Wynn. “We provide a lot of information about addiction as a disease. We talk about family systems in general, and the various roles people fall into. We discuss the dangers of codependency and enabling behaviors. We spend quite a bit of time talking about the value of good communication and how to set healthy boundaries.” Participants in the workshop get to share their experiences. Family members have a chance to let the patient in recovery know what the substance misuse has done to them, and patients, too, have an opportunity to share their feelings openly. Both sides work on rebuilding trust and learning to avoid behaviors detrimental to recovery. To paraphrase the poet John Donne, “no addict is an island entirely of itself; every person in recovery is a part of the main.” The CSAT/SAMHSA study points out that the disease of addiction can affect the entire ecosystem of the family. “In families with substance abuse, family members often are connected not just to each other but also to any of a number of government agencies, such as social services, criminal justice, or child protective services. The economic toll includes a huge drain on individuals’ employability and other elements of productivity. The social and economic costs are felt in many workplaces and homes.” Family therapy will help partners and parents better understand the disease of addiction and, consequently, their loved ones’ behavior. Treatment often comes after years of irresponsible behavior of the addicted individual, and feelings of mutual resentment must be addressed in therapy so the whole family can heal.