Mental health issues and substance abuse does not only affect an individual; it also affects that person’s family and friends. When a person enters a treatment program, their family can provide empathy, encouragement, and support as they progress through and into recovery.
However, the family also needs support and encouragement to face each day and their new normal. Some families seek a program that addresses the client and their family and includes therapeutic options for both. This article will convey how family programs, support groups, peer groups, and other opportunities may aid those in recovery and their families.
Family Support Groups
One of the first answers a family member seeks is how to help their loved one through their recovery journey. Although substance dependency is not the responsibility of family or friends, receiving help from them through empathy and support may assist in healing.
As a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed with questions, doubts, and an influx of conflicting information coming from every direction. Rest assured, you are not losing control, but your life is changing, and with change comes confusion and angst.
The good news is there are support groups to help families and friends of those with addictions. They provide a wealth of information you can rely on and peer support from others going through similar situations with their loved ones. A few of the support groups and descriptions are listed below:
- Al-Anon is an international group providing a recovery program for families and friends of persons with an addiction to alcohol.
- Nar-Anon is a 12-Step program for the loved ones of people with substance abuse and provides support for affected family members.
- Families Anonymous is also a 12-Step program for families of people with substance and alcohol addictions. Members share their experiences which foster belonging and aid in relieving feelings of being alone in the struggle.
- SMART Recovery Family and Friends, an alternative to Al-Anon and other spiritual-based programs. It is a science-based program to help friends and family of people with alcohol or substance abuse. Their meetings are available in-person and online.
Whichever support group or program you choose, it is a positive step toward understanding thus, helping your loved one.
Programs for family therapy are many and varied, but most have two common goals: help the families function together and support the person in recovery. Family therapy usually involves a meeting of the person with substance use disorder (SUD), the family, and a therapist. Often the whole family will meet, but in other cases, only part of the family. The sessions also vary; some will discuss family concerns, and others may involve the therapist providing helpful information about substance abuse.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to developing mental health disorders or SUDs. As a result, they may be at greater risk due to growing up in an environment exposed to mental health struggles or addiction. Therefore, families need to be open-minded about participating in family therapy and counseling; Such activities can aid in treatment and strengthen family understanding.
Numerous therapies exist to help families. Some of the more common ones are listed below.
Family Behavior Therapy
Family Behavior Therapy (FBT) is most successful in adults and teenagers with SUDs. Evidence-based therapy options are available so the families can choose their treatment. Behaviors of the person with SUD are the focus, and how they affect the family. The family then works together to help change the behaviors.
Behavioral Couples Therapy
This therapy is for married couples or couples living with one person struggling with SUD. Abstinence is encouraged through a mutual contract that includes the promise not to partake in alcohol or substance use. Treatments are known to improve communication between couples and reduce stress.
Functional Family Therapy
Functional Family Therapy (FFT) focuses on improving family interactions, using the premise that unhealthy family dynamics lead to problem behaviors. Discussion and exercises include effective communication techniques, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
Reaching Understanding Without First-Hand Knowledge
Even though families of people with SUDs have many options to learn about their loved one’s plight, understanding without experiencing addiction can be a challenge. People in recovery need their families.
However, they also need to connect with others who have been through similar experiences. Substances affect your brain by interfering with how neurotransmitters communicate to your brain about how to function. Substance overuse is not something to which most of your family members can relate.
That said, families cannot fix everything. Peer support and group therapy are excellent resources for a person in treatment and recovery to interact and share experiences socially. If you are in treatment, recovery, or relapse, you must seek out others with which to convey your feelings.
Trying to get through recovery is difficult in and of itself, without the monumental challenge of trying to do it alone. Reach out to your friends, family, colleagues, or a professional, and let them help. You deserve a good quality of life.
At SoCal Mental Health, we believe that family plays a vital role in an individual’s recovery. We understand that it takes vigilance and persistence to learn and manage symptoms related to substance use disorders (SUDs). Our programs help clients manage treatment and recovery and help families understand how to assist their loved ones through recovery. Everyone in treatment, relapse, or healing needs support. We need each other to get through this amazing thing called life. If you or your family is having difficulty coping and is struggling, do not hesitate to ask for help. You do not have to go through this alone. Don’t wait. To find out more, call SoCal Mental Health today at (949) 502-2041.