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Can Family Therapy Heal the Relationship Between Me and My Addicted Loved One?

family therapy in addiction treatment

Addiction is a complex condition that impacts the lives of millions of people in this country. The effects of addiction are hard on a person’s body, emotional wellbeing, and relationships. Without treatment, people who live with addiction are at risk of serious physical and mental health problems. They can lose jobs and relationships and often can’t plan for their futures.

Loving someone who struggles with addiction can be difficult, too. It can be painful to see someone you love face the consequences that go often follow addiction. You may worry about their health and safety or wonder what you could have done to prevent this from happening.

Addiction is a family disease. The effects of addiction are not just felt by the addicted person, but by the people who love and depend on them. Most people with an addicted loved one want to help, but it can be difficult to know what to do or where to start.

Because addiction impacts all members of a family, the whole family must get the support and healing they need to continue to support the addicted person. In many cases, this process begins during family therapy sessions as part of a person’s addiction treatment plan.

If you love an addicted person, it can be helpful to understand how family therapy can help all the members of the family as they go through recovery alongside your loved one. For more information about how we use family therapy in addiction treatment, reach out to the staff at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment.

How Does Addiction Affect Family Relationships?

Addiction makes it difficult for people to have healthy relationships with the people in their lives. Because prolonged substance abuse changes the way a person’s body and brain function, people with addiction are often unable to engage in relationships in a meaningful way. The addiction becomes the person’s only focus and sole companion. For many, addiction feels lonely, even if they are surrounded by friends and family who want to connect.

Relationships touched by addiction are often burdened by mistrust, anger, shame, and guilt. The people in the relationship can not plan for the future or communicate effectively. The addicted person’s energy goes toward getting, using, and recovering from using drugs or alcohol. Their loved ones spend their energy worrying, caretaking, or covering for the addicted person. In time, family members take on new roles that help them cope with the stress of the addiction.

At the same time, family involvement is important in recovery. It can improve treatment outcomes and prove a great relief to the addicted individual. Family therapy sessions can get families involved in the recovery process while also repairing the family unit.

What Are Some Common Family Roles in Addiction?

The stress of a relationship with an addicted person can cause people to adopt new roles that allow them to cope. These roles are often difficult to maintain and cause a great deal of stress and strain. Some of the common roles people take on include:

  • Enabler: Usually a spouse or sibling. The Enabler uses a great deal of energy covering up the addicted person’s actions and attempting to hide that there is a problem.
  • Hero: The Hero attempts to do everything “right” to prove that everything is fine. This causes them a great deal of anxiety and stress.
  • Mascot: The Mascot uses humor to deflect stress and relieve tension but may be prone to severe anxiety.
  • Scapegoat: This person takes the blame for things that go wrong and may eventually withdraw from the family.

When a family lives with addiction, people find ways to function within the chaos–usually at risk to their own mental health. Identifying these and other harmful adapted roles is an important part of family therapy in addiction treatment. It is essential to healing the entire family and recovering from addiction together.

What Happens During Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment?

There are many different approaches to family therapy, but the goal is generally the same across all approaches: to help members of a family identify and correct harmful roles or systems so that each member can thrive and the family can heal.

In family therapy,  family members work with a licensed therapist to work through problems and identify patterns and beliefs that impact the whole family. They identify needs, set goals, and learn new, healthy ways of coping with stress and change.

Family therapy in addiction treatment helps the members of a family manage the stress and pain of addiction. The family learns about addiction and treatment. This often helps family members experience less anger toward the addicted person. The family can better support their addicted loved one and create a more healing environment that promotes recovery.

Individually, each family member learns they are not alone and that support is available. They may learn better communication and coping skills that help them in their relationship with their addicted loved one and for the rest of their life.

family therapy in addiction treatment cta

Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

Learn More About Starting Family Therapy at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love require addiction treatment, reach out to the staff at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment. We offer a range of programs and support services to people living with addiction and their loved ones.

Don’t wait another day to get the help you need. Call today to learn how we can help.


Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC
Clinical Director

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