With professional help and recovery, both for the individual and the family, families can heal together.
There is an association between relapse and social supports across a range of addictions. Involving the family or significant other of the addicted client in individual or multiple family group sessions can reduce the risk of relapse. Such involvement has many potential benefits:
- It provides the clinical staff with an opportunity to learn about the client’s family, observe how family members interact, and gain input from the family.
- It can facilitate compliance with treatment. If a client feels pressure to remain in treatment to satisfy the requests of the family, he or she may maintain this involvement even during periods of low motivation. This buys the client time for motivation to improve.
- It provides members of the family with an opportunity to verbalize their concerns, questions, experiences, and feelings related to the addicted family member.
- It offers the client an opportunity to hear how the family experiences the addiction.
- It offers the client the opportunity to receive support from the family.
- The family can receive education and support from other families, which may lessen the burden experienced. Anger, worry, confusion, and other emotional reactions can be shared, and strong, negative feelings may be diffused.
- Family members can be taught about and encouraged to attend support groups such as Al-Anon.
- Family members can learn about behaviors that they should avoid, which are considered enabling.
- Family members can learn about strategies that can help them cope better with an addicted relative.
- Family members can learn about strategies to take care of themselves so that all the recovery efforts are not simply directed at the addicted person.
- Family members with a psychiatric or addictive disorder who appear to need help themselves can be encouraged to seek help, and referrals can be facilitated.