Struggling with addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. It affects those who care about him as well. This includes spouses and domestic partners, as well as children, parents, siblings, and close friends. These are the people most likely to spot a substance abuse problem early and will try to convince the addict to seek help before the addiction can become more severe. Even though they may have the best of intentions, this situation can create tension in familial relationships. Adding to the problem, the addict may begin lying to those closest to him or may start hiding his substance use to avoid future confrontations. As the addiction worsens, the individual may start stealing from his or her loved ones to help pay for drugs or alcohol. By the time the addict accepts that help is needed to begin recovery, those relationships may seem strained beyond repair. While there are many hurt feelings and complicated problems that can arise from this situation, that doesn’t mean these relationships are damaged beyond repair.
How Does Outpatient Therapy Help Heal Relationships?
In some cases, the relationship is far too damaged to be repaired, but, if the addict is willing to put in the effort, many relationships can be salvaged. When you participate in outpatient addiction treatment, there will be a few different types of therapy that are designed to help you begin repairing your relationships. You may begin with one on one counseling to discuss the part you plated in damaging your relationships, but, eventually, your loved ones will be invited to participate in group therapy sessions. Some common types of therapy designed to help addicts heal relationships include:
- Behavioral contracting
- Behavioral marital therapy
- Multidimensional family therapy
- Solution-focused therapy
You may participate in one or more of these types of therapy. In addition to addressing past issues that strained your relationships, these types of therapy also focus on defining the nature of your relationships for the future. It can help everyone involved to understand what roles they play in the relationship and what they can expect from one another.
How Does Outpatient Family Therapy Help?
There are many benefits that family therapy provides to addicts and their loved ones, beginning with helping loved ones understand addiction better. This can include recognizing unhealthy familial patterns that can contribute to substance abuse. In many cases, unhealthy family relationships can trigger substance use, so it’s important to address these problems during treatment.
Therapy will also focus on improving communication between the addict and his or her loved ones. Learning how to communicate more effectively is often the most important factor in healing relationships, especially where communication has been a problem in the past. As addicts and their loved ones learn how to communicate better, they can begin to rebuild trust. An ability to communicate and an ability to trust are often linked, so working on both of these factors together can help strengthen and restore relationships.
Is Family Therapy Effective?
Research on this topic is limited, so it’s difficult to provide a definitive answer until there are more studies from which to draw common conclusions. Even so, early studies have found that family therapy is effective in addiction treatment, especially in terms of helping to keep the addict motivated. When family members take an interest in the treatment process and provide emotional support, the addict is more likely to stay invested in treatment. Family support will also help reduce the likelihood of relapse once outpatient treatment is completed. In terms of romantic relationships, some research has found that outpatient therapy can help improve the relationship.
Many couples have reported that the therapy helped make their relationships stronger than they have ever been. Even when couples have been on the verge of divorce, going through therapy as part of the addict’s addiction treatment has helped them rebound and grow closer. Relationships with spouses, partners, and children are often made stronger through the counseling provided on an outpatient basis. Since the sessions are scheduled on an outpatient basis, appointments can be made to accommodate everyone’s schedule. This is beneficial in helping loved ones participate in therapy without disrupting their lives. To learn more about outpatient addiction treatment, contact our counselors at 866-300-6707. We can answer any questions you may have about family therapy and starting your outpatient treatment. This is an opportunity to adopt a clean lifestyle and repair the relationships that mean the most to you.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.