Family Therapy for Addiction: What to Know, Benefits, and More

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When applied to those with addictions and their family members, family therapy for alcohol addiction or drug addiction aims to equip individuals with communication skills and conflict management techniques to help improve relationships within the family. This can be very beneficial for all parties.

Those in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction will often attend counseling and therapy sessions in both individual and group settings, as well as in the form of family therapy. During one-to-one sessions, the person grappling with an addiction will focus on their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. During family behavior therapy for substance abuse therapy sessions, by contrast, the therapist will shine a light on relationships between family members. Bringing awareness to toxic habits, and unhealthy patterns is the only way to change them.  

Family therapy for addiction can play a key role in a comprehensive treatment program that addresses all components of substance use disorder and its consequences.

Features of Family Therapy for Substance Abuse

Through multifaceted work in family therapy, families can heal together and implement new healthier habits

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) publishes data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health each year. The most current data from NSDUH 2021 indicate that 46.3 million U.S. adults had a diagnosable substance use disorder in 2021, and 29.5 million met the criteria for alcohol use disorder in the same year. For both alcoholism and drug addiction, this represents a significant increase since 2019.

These numbers are quite shocking, they demonstrate how mental health is on a decline and substance use is on the incline. With that said, there is no better time to partake in family and or individual therapy than now.  

Of the many types of family psychotherapy, these are the most common approaches:

  • Systemic therapy: Systemic therapy involves the therapist maintaining a neutral approach while observing. The focus of this form of family therapy is on hidden meanings and unconscious communication.
  • Bowenian family therapy: For those in recovery who do not want their families to be involved in the treatment process, Bowenian family therapy can be effective. This form of family psychotherapy can be delivered on a one-to-one basis while focusing on the family unit. The same therapist may see all family members individually, or therapy may be limited to the individual in recovery.
  • Strategic therapy: Strategic family therapy enables all members of the family to discover new tools for growth, both individually and as a family unit. The therapist takes a direct approach in this form of family psychotherapy.
  • Structural therapy: Structural family therapy can be effective for parents diagnosed with substance use disorders. With this intervention, parents remain in their positions of authority with the therapist adopting a more passive approach.

A family therapist will attempt to treat the behaviors of the family as a unit. Even though the family consists of individuals making their own contributions to the family dynamic, the central focus of therapy is the family group.  While individuals in a family are all unique, their behavioral patterns and modes of communication may be similarly unhealthy. With that said, treating the family as a unit is crucial. 

Family therapy is typically a short-term process that may or may not involve all members of the family. You will be free to explore the dynamics of your family as your therapist guides you regardless of how many of your family members attend sessions.

In addition to engaging with all family members in group sessions, the therapist will also spend time with each family member individually.

The core goals of family therapy are to:

  1. Strengthen bonds within the family.
  2. Validate the experiences of all members of the family.
  3. Start repairing damaged relationships.
  4. Educate all family members about addiction and recovery.
  5. Add greater clarity to interpersonal relationships within the family.

While drug addiction and alcohol addiction share many similarities, there are some key differences in how they affect families. The primary difference is the physical and psychological effects of these substances. Alcohol addiction can lead to physical and emotional abuse, while drug addiction often causes erratic behaviors, criminal activity, and financial problems. 

The treatment approach for drug addiction and alcohol addiction is similar, but family therapy may differ depending on the substance of abuse.

For Drug Addiction

Family therapy for drug addiction may involve an intensive approach that focuses on harm reduction, relapse prevention, and helping the family members understand the risks associated with addiction.

It may also include education on the specific drug of abuse and how it affects the individual and their loved ones. The goals of family therapy for drug addiction are to help the family members understand the complexities of addiction and develop tools to support their loved one in recovery.

For Alcohol Addiction

Family therapy for alcohol addiction typically focuses on addressing the underlying issues that contribute to addiction, such as:

  • Trauma
  • Mental health disorders
  • Relationship problems

It also involves helping family members learn healthy communication skills, setting boundaries, and developing coping mechanisms to manage triggers that may lead to relapse. Family members will also learn how to support their loved one in recovery and understand how to avoid enabling behaviors.

Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction

In general, engaging with family therapy for addiction treatment is a beneficial process for all those involved. Partaking in the work of family therapy can deliver the following general benefits:

  • Strengthen your personal relationships.
  • Identify any problematic areas in your family dynamic.
  • Improve overall communication skills.
  • Promotes conflict resolution and conflict management.
  • Imparts new insight and understanding.
  • Builds coping skills for dealing with challenges and stressors.

There is empirical evidence indicating the following benefits of therapy for family members of addicts:

  • Reduces the risk of relapse in recovery.
  • Improves overall treatment retention.
  • Increases awareness of the warning signs of relapse.
  • Supports family members of the individual with an addiction.
  • Deepens understanding of the impact of addiction on the family unit.
  • Builds on the personal strengths of family members.
  • Helps each family member to take responsibility for their personal well-being.
  • Raises awareness of the recovery process.
  • Streamlines family members making positive changes through behaviors and communications.

Family Therapy for Addiction in Ohio

Family therapy can be a valuable component of addiction treatment in Ohio. Here are some resources and information to help you find family therapy for addiction in Ohio:

  • OhioMHAS (Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services): OhioMHAS provides information and resources related to addiction treatment in Ohio, including a directory of treatment providers. You can search for providers in your area and filter by services offered, including family therapy.
  • The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: This medical center offers addiction treatment services, including family therapy. They have locations throughout Ohio, including Columbus, Dublin, and Westerville.
  • NAADAC (The Association for Addiction Professionals) Ohio: NAADAC Ohio is a professional association for addiction counselors and therapists in Ohio. Their website includes a directory of members, which you can search by location and specialty, including family therapy.

Addiction Family Therapy at Ohio Community Health

At Ohio Community Health, we offer personalized addiction treatment programs in Cincinnati for addictions to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs.

Choose from the following programs:

  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)

All treatment programs at Ohio Community Health combine pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies for a science-backed approach to recovery. You will leave our treatment center equipped with relapse prevention strategies, coping techniques, and access to ongoing therapy if required. 

Family therapy is a key component of treatment, whether you are addicted to drugs or alcohol.  We know how much family can affect your recovery and we are here to help.  

Call 513-757-5000 today for immediate assistance and involve your family members in your recovery journey today!

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