Here at Destination Hope, we believe in the family. It is a force with incredible power. Most of the time it is our best crutch – a group we can count on to help us through our darkest times. However, sometimes, most often inadvertently, the family can be the root cause of addiction. Family issues and negative events can lead to guilt, powerlessness, regret, and depression that can turn someone to drugs or alcohol as the way out.
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.
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:
- Individual family therapy sessions
- Group family therapy sessions
- Intensive family weekend workshops
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.
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. The 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; re-purposing 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 re-form the bonds that were damaged.