Family Therapy for Treating Addictions

Addiction is a complex condition that can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, environment, and underlying mental health conditions. Many individuals with addiction also have co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD. These conditions can both contribute to the development of addiction and be exacerbated by substance use. Sometimes, these issues can also stem from family and to resolve them, family therapy is available. Exposure to stress, trauma, or poverty, can increase an individual’s risk of developing addiction. For example, individuals who have experienced childhood abuse or neglect may be more likely to develop addiction later in life. Keep reading to learn how family therapy is used for treating addictions.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a type of therapy that involves all or some members of a family, and is focused on addressing the issues and dynamics within the family system that may be contributing to or affected by an individual’s addiction. Family therapy can be an effective component of addiction treatment for several reasons:

  • Addictions often affect not only the individual who is using substances, but also the family members who care for and support them. Family therapy can help family members understand and cope with the effects of addiction on their own lives, as well as provide support to the individual in recovery.
  • Family dynamics and relationships can play a significant role in the development and maintenance of addiction. Family therapy can help identify and address any negative patterns of communication or behavior within the family that may be contributing to the individual’s addiction.
  • Family therapy can help repair relationships and improve communication within the family system, which can be beneficial for the individual in recovery.
  • Family therapy can help educate the family members about addiction, treatment and recovery and how they can help their loved one through the process.

It is essential to remember that not all families are suitable for family therapy, and that some family members may not be willing or able to participate. In such cases, individual therapy for the person in recovery and/or therapy for the family members who are willing to participate can still be beneficial.

3 Reasons Why Family Therapy is Necessary

No, not for everyone. While family therapy is not necessary, it can be really beneficial for some people, especially those who are in the following circumstances:

1. The individual’s addiction is affecting the family

Addiction can have a significant impact on the lives of family members, and family therapy can help them understand and cope with the effects of addiction on their own lives.

2. Family dynamics are contributing to the addiction

Family dynamics and relationships can play a significant role in the development and maintenance of addiction. Family therapy can help identify and address any negative patterns of communication or behavior within the family that may be contributing to the individual’s addiction.

3. The individual’s addiction has caused significant damage to the family relationships

Addiction can strain relationships and cause conflicts within a family. Family therapy can help repair relationships and improve communication within the family system, which can be beneficial for the individual in recovery. To educate the family members about addiction, treatment and recovery and how they can help their loved one through the process.

It’s important to keep in mind that family therapy is not always necessary and it may be more beneficial for the individual in recovery to participate in individual therapy or support groups. In cases where people are not comfortable with family therapy, counselors usually go for individual therapy programs. 

Here’s How Family Therapy Works

Family therapy for addiction typically involves a series of sessions with a licensed therapist who specializes in addiction and family therapy. The therapist will work with all or some members of the family to address the issues and dynamics within the family system that may be contributing to or affected by the individual’s addiction. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, depending on the specific needs of the family. Some common techniques used in family therapy for addiction include:

Structural family therapy

This approach focuses on identifying and changing negative patterns of communication and behavior within the family. The therapist may teach family members new ways of communicating and interacting with each other. Structural family therapy aims to identify and change these patterns in order to improve overall functioning and well-being within the family. The therapist will work to identify and reinforce healthy boundaries, roles and communication within the family and help the family members to understand their role in the addiction or other problems. The therapist will also help the family members to learn new ways to interact with each other and to develop new communication patterns that will help to resolve the problems.

Strategic family therapy

This approach focuses on identifying and changing specific behaviors within the family that may be contributing to the addiction. The therapist may use role-playing and other techniques to help family members practice new behaviors. Strategic family therapy aims to identify and change problematic patterns and interactions within a family in order to improve overall functioning and well-being. The therapist will also work to help family members understand how their behavior contributes to the problem and how they can change their behavior to improve the situation.

Systems therapy

This approach focuses on understanding the addiction within the context of the entire family system. The therapist may help family members understand how the addiction is affecting the family as a whole and how the family’s actions and behaviors are impacting the individual’s addiction. It focuses on the complex interactions between individuals and their environment in the development and maintenance of addictive behaviors. It is based on the idea that addiction is a result of multiple factors, including biology, psychology, and social and cultural influences. Systems therapy aims to address these factors by involving multiple members of an individual’s support system, such as family members, friends, and healthcare professionals, in the treatment process. This approach can help individuals understand the role their relationships and environment play in their addiction and develop strategies for managing triggers and improving their overall well-being.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This approach focuses on addressing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to substance use, and helps family members develop coping skills and manage stress.

Motivational Interviewing (MI):

This approach focuses on helping family members to understand their loved one’s addiction and also to become more engaged in the treatment process.

During the therapy sessions, the therapist will also educate the family members about addiction, treatment and recovery, and how they can help their loved one through the process. The therapist may also provide guidance and support to the individual in recovery. The length of the therapy will vary depending on the specific needs of the family, but typically it’s around 10-12 sessions.

How Effective Is Family Therapy?

Research has shown that family therapy can improve treatment outcomes, reduce relapse rates, and increase overall well-being for individuals with addiction. According to a systematic review of the literature, family therapy can improve treatment outcomes for individuals with substance use disorders. Studies have found that family therapy can increase the likelihood of completing treatment, reduce substance use and improve overall functioning. Another systematic review found that family therapy can reduce the risk of relapse for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. Overall, family therapy has been proven to be an effective treatment approach for addiction, it’s important to note that no single intervention or treatment is effective for everyone, and the best treatment approach will depend on the individual’s unique needs and circumstances.

Other benefits of family therapy within an addiction treatment are:

  • Improved communication and relationship skills
  • Increased understanding of addiction
  • Reduced risk of relapse
  • Improved overall functioning
  • Increased participation in treatment
  • Healing and Reconciliation
  • Support for the family members

This can also enable individuals to break the cycle of addiction or the other things that can lead to addiction. 

By addressing the underlying issues and triggers that contribute to addiction, family therapy can help individuals with addiction improve their overall functioning and lead more fulfilling lives. This includes addressing issues related to mental health, employment, and social relationships, which can be negatively affected by addiction.

When you are undergoing addiction treatment, you are likely to undergo a specialized therapy like family therapy that is also coupled with medications. Some of the medications that you are likely to undergo are:

  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone

Final Thoughts on Why Family Therapy for Addictions Is Important

Thank you for reading this resource on family therapy for treating addictions. The importance of addiction therapies cannot be overstated. Addiction is a complex and chronic condition that affects not only the individual struggling with addiction, but also their loved ones and the community as a whole. Addiction therapies are essential for addressing the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction and helping individuals achieve and maintain recovery. Addiction therapies can address social factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of social support that may contribute to addiction. This can include support groups, vocational training, and other community-based services. Overall, addiction therapies are essential for addressing addiction and helping individuals in the best manner possible. 

Need help? There is hope! Find mental health professionals that treat drug addiction.

Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP
Author: Jordyn Mastrodomenico LPC, LCADC CTP

Jordyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LCADC) and Certified Trauma Professional (CTP). She holds a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling, from Caldwell University, Jordyn has extensive experience in Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient settings and is skilled at guiding clients through the recovery process in individual and group therapy sessions.

Need Help? Explore Online Therapy Options

Need help? Explore these great online therapy providers:

Advertisement

BetterHelp

The world's largest therapy service, 100% online.
  • $65 to $90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Receive therapy via messaging, phone, or live video
  • Flexible option to cancel at any time

Take 15% off your first month

Online-Therapy.com

Great option to find a online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • $40 to $88 per week, billed monthly
  • Receive therapy via live video, messaging, and worksheets
  • Multi-faceted program includes videos, journaling, and yoga

Take 20% off your first month

Talkspace

Great option to find a large network of online therapy and psychiatry services.
  • $69 to $129 per week, billing flexible
  • Receive therapy via messaging, phone, or live video
  • Psychiatric services and prescription management available

Use code 'SPACE' for $100 off your first subscription

Need Help? Explore Online Therapy Options

Need help? Explore these great online therapy providers:

Advertisement

BetterHelp

The world's largest therapy service, 100% online.
  • $65 to $90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Receive therapy via messaging, phone, or live video
  • Flexible option to cancel at any time

Take 15% off your first month

Online-Therapy.com

Great option to find a online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • $40 to $88 per week, billed monthly
  • Receive therapy via live video, messaging, and worksheets
  • Multi-faceted program includes videos, journaling, and yoga

Take 20% off your first month

Talkspace

Great option to find a large network of online therapy and psychiatry services.
  • $69 to $129 per week, billing flexible
  • Receive therapy via messaging, phone, or live video
  • Psychiatric services and prescription management available

Use code 'SPACE' for $100 off your first subscription

Advertisement

TherapyByPro Special Offer: Take 15% off your first month, cancel at any time.

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top