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Family Therapy


Drug and alcohol addiction affects both the substance abuser and his or her close friends and relatives. The extreme changes in mood and behavior and the loss of responsibility and control commonly suffered by drug and alcohol abusers take a serious toll on many families in Montana and throughout the nation. Thankfully, Montana rehab centers and addiction experts are available to help families solve the problems of substance abuse with specialized family addiction counseling services.

How Does an Addiction affect the User’s Family and Friends?

People who develop addictions to drugs or alcohol often lose interest in important areas of their lives. One of these areas is commonly the family. Substance abusers often neglect their spouses or children in order to spend more time drinking or using drugs. The spouse and children of the user may interpret this neglect as a sign of contempt or hatred. The substance abuser’s habits can also lead to stress in the household as a result of the loss of income. Poor work performance and absenteeism are fairly common symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse.

Codependency Within the Family

the course of a family member’s addiction, his or her family members may take on various roles that act as coping mechanisms for his substance abuse problems. These roles are generally known as co-dependent roles and include the following:

  • The Addict: The addicted family member or friend at the center of the problem.
  • The Hero: A family member who ignores or denies the existence of the Addict’s problems in order to maintain a clean and positive image of the family. This role may be motivated by the Hero’s sense of perfectionism.
  • The Mascot: A family member who makes jokes about the Addict and other members of the family and their relative roles. The Mascot’s jokes may cause offense and place more strain on the relationships within the family as a result.
  • The Scapegoat: A family member who acts out in order to draw attention away from the Addict’s self-destructive habits.
  • The Lost Child: A family member who remains passive and attempts to stay out of the way. The Lost Child will avoid confrontation and not mention the Addict’s problems.
  • The Caretaker: A family member who directly cares for the Addict but who ignores or denies the existence of his substance abuse problem for his protection.

Codependency may be motivated by an underlying feeling of anxiety or a lack of self-confidence. Family members who play codependent roles often become depressed and may develop their own substance abuse problems as a result.

Principles of Couples and Family TherapyFor these reasons, it is very important that the family become directly involved in their addicted family member’s recovery. Addiction counselors who specialize in family treatment offer therapy sessions that include both the patient and his affected family members. Couples counseling is also available for substance abusers and their spouses or partners to resolve similar problems within their relationships.

The first step in a successful course of family addiction therapy is an intervention. During the intervention, trusted relatives and friends approach their loved one with their knowledge of a substance abuse problem in a supportive and empathetic way. The goal of the intervention is to force the subject to recognize their own problems and the need to seek professional help. It is important, however, that insulting and accusatory language be avoided during an intervention; if the subject feels that they are merely being attacked, he will likely become even more isolated from his family members and friends.

After a successful intervention, courses of family therapy can begin. The patient, who should be enrolled in a rehab program, can attend counseling sessions together with affected relatives. A family addiction counselor can help treat both the patient’s addiction and any emotional disorders or substance abuse habits among the family that might have occurred as a result of the patient’s actions. These sessions also allow the patient and family members to discuss issues openly and to mend the bonds that have been damaged by drug and alcohol abuse.

A family counselor should also be able to educate the family about ways to provide a supportive and caring environment for the recovering addict at home to encourage his long-term recovery. Relapse, or a return to old patterns of drug or alcohol use, is a danger faced by all recovering substance abusers. Relapse may be prevented through continued attendance at family therapy sessions and by a strong system of support for the patient at home.

Heal Family Ties and Find an Addiction Counselor Today

If you have a friend or relative who is suffering from a substance abuse problem, contact a Montana family drug and alcohol addiction counselor to learn more about available treatment options.