The Advantages of Family Involvement in Addiction Treatment
Sobriety is a Family Affair
You’ve watched your loved one struggle with addiction for a long time, and they have finally agreed to get help. As you breathe a sigh of relief, you quickly start to wonder how your family member can maintain his or her sobriety long term.
Q: Is there anything you can do to help?
A: Yes! You can play a crucial role in your loved one’s recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Here, we’ll review how families can support a loved one in rehab. We’ll talk about the benefits of involvement and the steps you can take. Then, we invite your feedback or questions at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all questions with a personal response.
Benefits of Family Involvement in Recovery
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person’s risk of relapse is significantly reduced when the family is supportive and involved in the recovery process. This often means that you participate in counseling. Often, family therapy sessions are run by rehabs, both inpatient and outpatient. But why consider family therapy?
In addition to relapse prevention, here are some of the primary benefits of systemic family involvement in recovery that contribute to an individual’s long-term sobriety. Family addiction therapy and counseling can:
- Provide healthy motivation for the individual in rehab and increase their self esteem.
- Allow all participants to become educated on the effects of addiction on family.
- Facilitate more effective communication.
- Equip family members to identify and avoid enabling or codependent behaviors.
- Aid in resolving anger, fear, confusion, or stress caused by addiction.
- Provide an understanding of what to expect after inpatient care.
- Equip families and their recovering loved one with insights and emotional tools to navigate sobriety.
First Steps for Family Healing
As a sober family member, being involved in your loved one’s addiction recovery is vital to their success. But before you can contribute to another person’s healing in addiction treatment, you should first find support and healing for yourself.
Family Support Groups
One of the most important things I can advise in the early stages of recovery is to first begin by “filling your empty cup.” Meaning, one cannot be an effective support, caregiver, or model of good behaviors and mental health if one is not engaged in his or her own individual healing, recovery, and supports. A good place to start for all family members is to engage and immerse into community support groups such as:
- Celebrate Recovery
Involvement in relevant family support groups can help family members understand the process of 12 step programs in a new light—from a personal lens. You are being granted the gift of recovery just for you and can take a break from attempting to manage and control outcomes for someone else.
Q: What if Al-Anon or Nar-Anon is not the right fit for you?
A: In that case, you may want to consider outpatient psychotherapy or other group psychotherapies to get involved with.
If you want to be effective in helping your loved ones, you must begin by helping yourself.
Visiting Your Loved One in Addiction Treatment
People entering recovery often want to know if their treatment center allows family visitation during their inpatient program. The answer depends on the specific program or level of care a patient is receiving. Many treatment centers limit in-person visits at levels of care requiring intense monitoring and stabilization during the first 30-45 days (typically partial hospitalization, detoxification, or residential programs). The reason for this limitation is to reduce any distractions the client may experience early in recovery.
Once a client has reached the point where a primary clinician feels visitation will aid in the recovery process, family members can get involved in their loved one’s recovery in-person. While every case is unique, family visitation can typically occur after 30-45 days into treatment. On-campus visits with your loved one in rehab allow you to discuss areas of concern, hurt, and frustration in the presence of a trained addiction professional.
Participation in family programs operated via residential rehab also gives you an opportunity to see where your loved one is being cared for and who is providing the care. Additionally, making the effort to open lines of communication with a family member in rehab gives them a tangible reminder of the support he or she has back home.
What if You Cannot Visit a Loved One in Rehab?
In some cases, family members may not be able to visit their loved one in rehab.Perhaps the treatment center does not allow visitation. In other cases, financial limitations may prevent you from visiting a rehab facility located far away. No matter what the reason, individuals who are not able to visit their loved one in person can still play an active role in the recovery process. What can this look like?
OPTION 1: Teleconference Family Counseling
Some treatment centers bridge the visitation gap by offering family counseling services via phone or video conferences. Teleconferencing provides an effective alternative to in-person therapy sessions, allowing sober family members to engage with their loved one and with an addiction treatment professional on a regular basis. These counseling sessions may follow a weekly curriculum, and in some cases, family members may be asked to attend community support groups (such as Al-Anon) in their local area to further facilitate their own healing process.
OPTION 2: Family-Based Treatments
You can also opt to address family issues via private counseling AFTER rehab completion. There is a multitude of different family-based approaches to addiction treatment. Some modalities include:
- Family behavior therapy
- Multidimensional family therapy
- Family systems therapy
But, these are just a few of the research based family treatment options available for those in need of healing broken relationships and reestablishing trust with their loved ones.
When choosing a treatment center for yourself or a loved one, make sure the facility provides a robust offering of family counseling services that will facilitate long-term recovery for everyone involved.
Got Any Questions?
We hope to have assisted you in finding ways you can stay proactively involved in a loved one’s addiction recovery…while also taking good care of your personal needs. For any additional questions, please leave a comment in the designated section below. We do our best to respond personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.
About the Authors: DR. LAURA S. OLIVOS-ALFONSIN, PSY.D. serves as the Director of Family Recovery and as the Assistant Clinical Director at The Shores. She is a Certified Structured Family Recovery Counselor and has experience in the assessment and treatment of those who struggle with addiction and their co-occurring disorders.
DENISE MARINO is a co-founder and counselor at The Shores Treatment and Recovery’s Family Program. She is certified as a Structured Family Recovery Counselor and has been working as a therapist in the field of addiction for over three years. Ms. Marino has a passion for bringing families together to heal in the process of recovery.
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