When one person falls victim to drug or alcohol abuse, it impacts many – especially members of the family. In fact, addictive behavior can often be traced back to a genetic predisposition to the disease or a familial environment that increases a person’s risk for developing the disease.
For example, alcoholism is often generational. Once a person completes treatment and goes back to their home life with parents, siblings or adult children who continue to use alcohol, this creates a high-risk situation for relapse, as the patient is surrounded by enablers.
There are other reasons why addiction greatly affects the entire family. At the very core, trust is broken and the emotional pain from this can run deep and divide many to the point that restoring the family back to the way it once was seems impossible. It takes a solid family therapy program for addiction.
Dysfunctional Families and Addiction Happen Over Time
Often times, a person suffering from drug or alcohol addiction is exhibiting life choices and behaviors that are indicative of a larger family dynamic. In a sense, the addiction can serve as a symptom of the bigger picture of a dysfunctional family.
Over time, parents and siblings will adapt in order to deal with the unhealthy changes in the family as a way to handle the growing stress, anxiety and shame they experience. In the long run, these roles can affect everyone for years, even after they’ve moved on and established their own families.
Unfortunately, this sets up the same unhealthy interactions among other family members, expanding a wider net of dysfunction.
Family Members Play into Addiction to Survive
Psychologists cite the following designations as specific survival roles that family members can take on when a loved one is suffering from addiction.
What’s your survival tactic? Do any of these roles sound like you? This is why you may need a family therapy program for addiction.
The Enabler – Typically closest to the addict. Wants to help him or her by making things easier, such as “cleaning up” after substance use or giving money.
The Hero – Typically the oldest child, either an overachiever or someone who feels overly responsible. May attempt to become a surrogate mother or father to provide support needed within the family.
The Scapegoat – Typically a child who is troublesome. He or she “acts out” as a way to take the focus off the addict, providing the family a reason to get together and redirect their frustrations and anger away from the addict.
The Lost Child – Typically keeps a low profile and almost disappears, finding more security in isolation, going unnoticed for hours or days, not asking questions or attracting attention of others.
The Mascot – Typically the youngest member of the family who uses humor to diffuse stressful situations. He or she may not have been born until after the dysfunction existed, making this family dynamic normal to him or her. While older children may use the mascot to avoid or minimize stressful moments, they, in turn, protect the mascot from the addict’s substance use and behavior.
Codependency Feeds Addiction Further
Codependency is a type of relationship common in families where a loved one suffers from drug or alcohol addiction. There are many characteristics that define a codependent relationship, but one in particular mirrors insecurity, and shows up as a heightened need to seek and gain approval from others to define one’s identity.
Codependence is also linked to enabling behavior, described in The Enabler role noted above, which helps perpetuate the addiction of drugs or alcohol.
To Restore Hope, You Have to Open Hearts
Honesty doesn’t come easy, but it’s an important part of the drug or alcohol addiction treatment and recovery process. Family members and the patient need to acknowledge and understand how substance abuse is affecting them individually, as well as within the family unit.
In order to do this safely and effectively, the family should seek a family therapy program for addiction under the care of licensed, compassionate therapists who want nothing more than to see the healing begin.
Once the patient begins a treatment and recovery program, it is crucial to educate immediate family members on how they will greatly affect their loved one’s ability to continue on the road to recovery. Positive communication and the right kind of support are fundamental to successful sobriety.
In almost every imaginable case, the family can be a strong influence on the patient. Together, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers can build an emotional fortress for their loved one and the family as a whole.
Our Workshops Strengthen the Entire Family
At TTC Care, we treat the whole person, not just the addiction. In order to treat the whole person properly, we include the patient’s loved ones in our family therapy program for addiction. This is essential because families are, for the most part, the patient’s primary support group during alcohol or drug addiction treatment and throughout recovery.
Our family therapy program for addiction begins every three weeks. In addition, we offer a two-day intensive workshop – led by highly accredited, licensed therapists – which includes a one-hour session with the patient’s primary therapist.
These workshops are for family members, ages 12 and older, and highly recommended to help improve the family dynamic.
Beneficial Therapies Found in Our Family Program
Part of the healing process is sharing experiences, thoughts and feelings with other family members, including the patient, to face the past, embrace the present and look forward to a better future for everyone.
To help facilitate this, The TTC Care family program presents these therapies and more:
- Psychodrama: Drama and role-playing helps family members become aware of unhealthy behaviors.
- Family Sculpting: Reenactment of others’ behavior helps the family gain awareness on how they may have enabled addiction.
- Social Atom: Centering of each member within the family nucleus to explore emotional and physical proximity in relationships to discover whether these relationships are positive, negative or both.
Our Care Advocates Are Your Lifeline for Success
We don’t take your trust lightly. When the family is torn from a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction, it’s hard to imagine picking up the pieces again, moving forward and getting along. The medical and holistic practitioners at TTC Care are experts at mending the physical, mental and spiritual damage caused by addiction that destroys families, just like yours.
We know you have the strength, will and perseverance to do this because you found us – here and now.