All family members play their dysfunctional roles when a sibling or child has a substance use disorder, and they might not comprehend it. This is their way of coping with their loved one’s disease. Listed below is a version of each role and how it plays out for family members.
The family’s Hero overachieves and excels at compensating for the shame surrounding their loved one’s illness. They also try to cover up the helplessness and emptiness they feel. They don’t cause trouble and have never let the family down. Sometimes they may even cover for someone to look good to the rest of the family. They’re usually in denial about the illness and overlook significant problems.
This is the person who is most frequently blamed in the family. The Scapegoat causes problems and concerns to distract the family from focusing on the substance abuser. They’re quite skilled at taking the family’s attention away from their loved one’s condition.
The Lost Child
This is the one who hides out physically and emotionally, bottling up emotions and avoiding conflict. Although they don’t drain the emotional support of the family, they’re suffering on the inside.
The Enabler constantly excuses the substance abuser’s behavior. They continuously smooth things over and never hold them accountable for their actions. Therefore, the substance abuser doesn’t face any logical consequences for their risky behavior. The Enabler does this to avoid shame and embarrassment. While they believe they’re helping their loved ones, they’re hurting them and keeping them from getting help.
This role is the family comedian using humor primarily targeted toward the substance abuser. They crack jokes to minimize the seriousness of the addiction, but this eventually becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Family Therapy for Addiction
Family therapy for addiction is best described as education for the whole family. Sessions are set in a therapeutic approach that uses the family’s strengths and resources to help quit their substance abuse for good.
Other subjects discussed in family therapy for addiction include:
- Family conflict
- Parenting skills
During a family therapy session, members will unlearn their unhealthy roles previously taken while learning how to play healthier roles that support and encourage their recovery. Healthy behaviors coupled with these roles include holding your family member accountable for poor behavior and rewarding them for good behavior.
The Family Systems Model
As of late, the family systems model has become quite prevalent in family therapy for addiction. This family addiction counseling acts as a result of dysfunction in the family. You will be taught that family is a system, and each member affects how the others operate. When one member is experiencing dysfunction, the family system also experiences the same. Other members may see that they also demonstrate dysfunctional behavior because of efforts to support the family systems model.
How Does Family Therapy for Addiction Work?
During the initial family therapy counseling session, the therapist will determine who participates in treatment, like parents, children, spouses, extended family members, or close friends. The therapist will receive input from each member involved.
Family therapy for addiction is usually offered in an outpatient treatment setting or a private office. Depending on how severe the substance addiction is, the sessions could meet for several weeks. If the therapy is conducted in a traditional rehab program, it’ll usually be shorter sessions and more fun leisure activities coupled with group therapy sessions.
Some exercises practiced in family therapy for addiction include:
- Dialing in on ways to improve communication and rebuild trust
- Discovering ways to communicate with family while still respecting boundaries
- Discussing various family roles
- Distinguishing what helps and what’s harmful
Family therapy for addiction is also presented in support groups. Both inpatient and outpatient facilities offer these resources to help patients connect with peers who can relate. Support groups can help focus on families with relatives with substance addiction while sharing experiences with others going through the same difficulties.
Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction
Some benefits members can gain from family therapy for addiction include:
- Being conscious of family dynamics: Poor family models will cause substance abuse. Treating someone suffering from addiction will ensure they’ve got the best possible chances of recovery.
- Sharing ideas and opinions: Bridges can be burned when a family member is suffering from substance addiction. The family might become concerned about a possible relapse, and it’s ok to express that. In family addiction counseling, you’ll discover how to express and balance these emotions.
- Setting boundaries: It isn’t easy to set boundaries for your loved one, but the family needs to recover. For example, you could need to cut a family member with substance use disorder off for your safety and health.
- Understanding how addiction changes behavior: The therapist will give family insight and knowledge on substance addiction by learning how to evaluate it themselves.
- Discovering how to take care of yourself: Even if a family member is suffering from substance addiction, you must practice self-care and nurture your personal needs. Support groups can help with this.
- Rebuilding trust: Chances are you lost some trust and confidence in your loved one during their substance addiction. In family therapy for addiction, you’ll discover how to interact honestly and communicate better.
- Increasing communication: This is key for rebuilding trust. Communication has probably been nonexistent during your loved one’s substance addiction, and you’ll need to invest yourself in efficiently communicating with them.
The Importance of Family Addiction Counseling
Family addiction counseling teaches people how to encourage supportive behaviors while also discussing how to enable behaviors. By discovering how to keep your loved ones accountable for their behavior, you’re helping them start their journey to sobriety. Family addiction counseling is also crucial for rebuilding relationships. Those with family support and people in their corner have a much better chance of a full recovery.