Recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) is often viewed as a personal experience by many. Because of its devastating effects on the user, some may only focus on the individual and fail to consider the other people involved. Parents, siblings, spouses, children, friends, and other family members may suffer alongside the victim.

Thankfully, healing both the person and their family from the effects of addiction is possible. Modern treatment centers like Long Island Interventions incorporate therapy programs to help individuals suffering from SUD and their families in these trying times.

To get you started, let’s walk you through everything about family therapy, its types and approaches, its role and benefits in addiction recovery, and where to go from here.

Family Therapy in Long Island

How Does Addiction Affect the Family?

Addiction is a disease affecting the person’s brain. It leads to behavioral issues disrupting family ties and impacting the well-being of close relatives. Not to mention the severe financial, emotional, and physical strains addiction causes.

It’s typical for spouses or partners to feel betrayed when their loved one turns to alcohol or drugs. However, children are typically the most vulnerable when one of their family suffers from substance use disorder.

Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. Recent surveys revealed that the addiction problem has become a commonplace sight in American families.

According to one study, one in ten children aged 10 to 18 live with at least one adult suffering from SUD. The NIAAA reports similarly grave findings with over 7.5 million adolescents living with parents with alcohol abuse disorders.

What Is Family Therapy?

Often done by a marriage and family therapist (MFT), family therapy is a form of group psychotherapy treatment to help with family issues, specifically those that cause mental health concerns and affect family functioning.

While individual therapy focuses on one person’s emotions, behaviors, and thoughts, family therapy concentrates on the family dynamics, aiming to understand and validate their experiences.

Ultimately, family therapy clarifies the present situation of the family. It enables family members to identify concerns and improve problem-solving skills to build a stronger relationship.

In the context of substance use disorders, family therapy or family counseling involves evidence-based treatment plans and is an essential aspect of a recovery program.

A family therapist will explore how substance abuse affects family relationships, involving the entire family in the treatment procedure. The objective is to restore the family unit as caregivers, providing emotional support, love, and acceptance, which is crucial for long-term healing.

Throughout the therapy sessions, each member of the family will gain tools to identify signs of struggle or relapse. This makes it a valuable resource throughout the healing process, allowing families to recognize and deal with challenges promptly.

family Therapy

Types of Family-Based Therapies For Addiction Treatment

Family interventions like these can take on many forms and duration. Depending on your family’s unique needs, a session can last an hour or more, spread over several months, exploring a wide range of topics.

In most cases, family therapy sessions will discuss each member’s experiences, emotions, misunderstandings, challenges, and knowledge of addiction symptoms.

Typically, it involves the therapist meeting the whole family, but sometimes only a handful of relatives attend. In some rare instances, the family therapist may require meeting each member in person.

Here are some examples of family therapy approaches you may encounter:

1. Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)

Intended for couples enduring the effects of SUD, behavioral couples therapy aims to improve relationships while building support for abstinence and reducing stress.

Practically speaking, it means promoting positive experiences and boosting communication and trust between the couple. This type of therapy has been proven to raise the chances of recovery from drug or alcohol use addiction.

One hallmark of BCT is the use of “Recovery Contracts.” These contracts facilitate rehab by incorporating daily rituals and rewarding abstinence efforts. Often, it includes daily affirmations, fun weekly activities, and other positive reinforcements.

BCT usually consists of 12 to 20-week sessions for three to six months. These sessions can start immediately after the partner suffering from SUD seeks professional help.

2. Family Behavior Therapy (FBT)

This is a strategic family therapy found most effective in families with cases of adult and adolescent SUDs. Unlike most counseling methods, FBT utilizes a set of innovative and easy-to-learn behavioral therapies and cost-effective treatment options.

Family behavioral therapy concentrates on the thoughts and behaviors of the individual suffering from SUD and how it affects the family.

The therapist’s goal is to help everyone by coaching valuable skills to help eliminate behavioral problems and improve the home environment. It finally invites the whole family to work together and get involved with the recovery.

3. Functional Family Therapy (FFT)

Functional family therapy is another strategic intervention proven to be most effective in adolescent SUDs. At its core, FFT addresses the risk within and outside the family causing the victim’s addiction. It also deals with co-occurring disorders, including mental illness.

FFT has five primary steps: engagement, motivation, relationship assessment, behavior change, and generalization. Every one of these components achieves different goals with the ultimate goal of eliminating unhealthy family dynamics.

The therapeutic program offers high-quality, short-term interventions and strategies over 12 to 14 sessions. Some examples of the techniques taught in FFTs include effective communication skills, conflict resolution, parenting methods, and more.

One advantage of FFT is it can be done in various settings, including clinics, homes, welfare facilities, probation offices, and mental health facilities. But it’s often provided to SUD patients aged 14 to 18 referred by the juvenile justice system.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common talk therapies offered to people recovering from addiction. In this model, the SUD patient will work with a mental health professional or counselor within several sessions.

CBT helps individuals address underlying issues that contribute to the person’s substance use disorder. It allows patients to identify problematic behavioral patterns as well as teach them coping mechanisms to handle situations risking relapse.

Applied in addiction recovery programs, CBT typically consists of specific exercises aimed to facilitate rehabilitation.

For instance, the therapist may use “image-base exposure” activities, a thought exercise where one deliberately remembers negative experiences. By frequently revisiting painful memories, SUD patients can reduce or eliminate the anxiety associated with them.

CBT has been proven effective against many mental health conditions associated with addiction as well. Under professional guidance, the person suffering from addiction may recover from panic attacks, eating disorders, or sleeping problems.

5. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a psychotherapy model developed in the 1980s. It was initially used in clinical practice to treat individuals with chronic suicidal ideation and borderline personality disorder. Now, it’s a crucial part of SUD treatment programs.

Unlike CBT which aims to eliminate maladaptive behaviors, dialectical behavioral therapy stresses emotion regulation, interpersonal relationships, and acceptance.

Therapists using DBT in clinical treatments teach practical skills through coaching, practicing, narrating stories, and giving feedback.

One central skill you can learn from a DBT session is mindfulness ––of your emotions, thoughts, impulses, and sensations. By teaching moment awareness, DBT hopes to nurture healthy coping skills amid painful and discomforting situations associated with SUD recovery.

What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy on Addiction?

Family therapy comes with many benefits for recovering SUD patients. But perhaps most importantly, it allows their loved ones to be present throughout their struggle, lending a helping hand as they transition to sobriety.

Addiction forces the individual to feel isolated, causing rifts between family members and friends. By fostering connection, communication, and cooperation, family therapy can subside feelings of isolation in the person suffering from SUD.

Another crucial advantage of family therapy is the understanding and knowledge that comes with it. Psychoeducation is a central subject of talk in these sessions, which sheds light on the nature of the addiction disorder, its symptoms, and its impacts on the person.

Finally, family therapy significantly reduces the risk of relapse. As you know, friends and family are the greatest source of emotional support and security. Involving them in the process nurtures confidence and resilience, bolstering the chances of successful healing.

Final Thoughts: Getting Help

Addiction is a disease affecting millions of families worldwide. Finding and working with qualified health professionals is vital to healing every family member wounded and hurt by addiction. If you or any of your loved ones suffer from SUD, don’t hesitate to contact Long Island Interventions to get the best experts to guide you every step of the way.


Published on: 2024-06-06
Updated on: 2024-06-20