The Family Program at Destination Hope was developed to engage families in the treatment and recovery process for their loved one. We strongly believe in the support of family in aiding clients to develop healthier interpersonal, intrapersonal, communication and accountability skills as part of their success in recovery from mental health and/or substance abuse.
Drug and alcohol addiction rarely affects only the addict. It can make them behave in irrational and desperate ways, often causing harm to themselves or others, especially those closest to them – their families. As a result, we often see strained or severed family ties for one of two main reasons: either the client has left the family as a result of feeling rejected, unwanted or unloved, or the family has severed ties as a result of stress, anger and anxiety over their substance abusing relative.
The DH Family Program
At Destination Hope, we strongly believe in the support of family in aiding clients to develop healthier interpersonal, intrapersonal, communication and accountability skills as part of their success in recovery from mental health and/or substance abuse. Our goal is to help clients understand the disease of addiction, at the same time assisting family members in gaining a new perspectives about addiction and how each family member’s own behaviors relate to the disease and how to support someone they care about.
Our Family Program is led by a psychologist specializing in family dynamics and the unique struggles that exist in families trying to support and encourage a loved one struggling from mental health and substance use issues and to assist in developing insights about the impact mental health and addiction have on the dysfunction within the family.
The involvement of alumni and their family provides a unique and important perspective for those still struggling in the early stages of recovery. Our Family Program has once monthly intensive family weekends that provides families with the opportunity to engage in structured process groups and workshops developed to engage the family system in meaningful, transformative interventions to develop effective communication skills and improve family interactions and patterns of relating.
Strengthening the Family Unit
At Destination Hope, we work with the client and family as a whole to repurpose emotions by channeling resentment and anger into love and support. Our family program includes:
- Weekly family therapy process groups for clients and their families
- Weekly family dynamic process groups for clients
- Weekly family sessions with clients and their families
- Ongoing family contact and engagement in the treatment planning process and progress
- Alumni services following completion of treatment.
It’s equally important for the family to understand the underlying issues that spurred the addiction as the addict himself. With that understanding will often come compassion, and with a skilled counselor navigating the discussion, family members can learn to communicate and support one another again.
All families interested in attending, must be approved by the client’s individual therapist. In addition to our in-person family program, therapists are required to make contact with families on a weekly basis to provide progress updates, discuss barriers to treatment, collaborate on continuum of care and provide clinical recommendations for aftercare.
How Families Can Contribute to Recovery
One of the biggest advantages for a family attending treatment together is that they gain insight into addiction. This helps everyone set reasonable expectations. Addiction is a disease where the abuser’s brain has been rewired by drugs or alcohol and willpower isn’t enough to stay sober. Through family therapy, individuals learn how to support a loved one through lifelong recovery.
- The first and most important thing family members can do is to learn about the disease of addiction. There are support resources in many communities, such as Al Anon and Nar Anon, where they can learn about how the disease relates to behavior and control. This means they can better understand what their loved one is going through. This is not to excuse their behavior, but to feel compassion and understanding rather than resentment and anger.
- Some recovering addicts choose to attend an outpatient treatment program, where they attend rehab during the day and sleep at home at night. In this case, families can offer them a safe place to return to at the end of the day. They should take into consideration the changes that need to be made at home so that the addict feels supported.
- Family members can be very encouraging and supportive of their loved one. Offering a shoulder to cry on when the recovering addict is feeling overwhelmed by cravings during withdrawal can be invaluable: studies have shown that if they feel alone, they are more likely to give in to their cravings, ignoring their own desire to get well.
- Families can also give great insight to therapists on family dynamics, helping professionals understand the triggers that can lead to relapse. Therapists develop relapse prevention measures based on this awareness of triggers. They can also help keep medication schedules at home.
It’s very important to show support throughout the process of recovery, especially as the recovering addict may feel scared and ashamed. Unconditional support can help them to regain their self-confidence, which can make a big difference when it comes to long term, successful recovery.
A Unique Approach Through Family Counseling
At Destination Hope, we firmly believe that just as a family can feel bruised and broken because one of their own is facing addiction, they can also be healed and strengthened too. It requires channeling the family resentment and anger to love and support; repurposing their emotions. Our family addiction counseling sessions often shed light on the origin that led to an addiction. When paired with a controlled, non-aggressive environment led by a counselor, the family and client begin to reform the bonds that were damaged.