Though only one member of a family might be addicted to drugs or alcohol, everyone is affected. The circumstances of family life can both contribute to the development of an addiction and keep it going once it’s there. Moreover, addiction can cause addicts to behave in ways that are deeply hurtful and potentially damaging to their loved ones. Family therapy can help you disrupt unhealthy family patterns, repair the damage addiction has caused, and move forward, stronger than ever before.
How Addiction Affects Families
Addictions usually have their roots in some other condition or event. These roots can often be found in the family, in the form of divorce, abuse, parental abandonment, or the addiction of a parent or spouse. By addressing the family problems that may have led to your addiction, you are validating your feelings —a process that, in and of itself, can take you a long way toward healing.
Families that did not have anything to do with the onset of addiction can benefit from family therapy as well. Most addicts do things that are hurtful to loved ones, such as stealing money, lying, cheating on a spouse while under the influence of alcohol, or becoming violent toward a family member while battling the symptoms of withdrawal. Family therapy can help your loved ones heal while you repair your relationship with them.
How Family Therapy Can Help
Many people think therapy means endlessly talking about your most intimate feelings. The reality of therapy is something altogether different: it helps you figure out what you feel and why you feel it. Your therapist will offer alternative ways of thinking and feeling that can help you steadily put the pieces back together. Some common family therapy tactics include the following:
- Asking each family member to discuss their role in the family.
- Encouraging each family member to share what they like most about other family members.
- Dismantling family cliques and systems of bullying.
- Communication skills training.
- Homework designed to help you practice the skills you learned in therapy.
Toronto Addiction Centres will refer you to a rehab facility that includes family therapy in its programming. This will give you a powerful opportunity to repair your family relationships while working on your recovery. The redemption that comes with making amends with your loved ones can be a powerful, and even life-altering, experience.