Family Involvement is Important in Substance Abuse Treatment
For family and friends of drug- or alcohol-addicted individuals, addressing the addiction is one of the most difficult aspects of helping the addicted person seek treatment. Often, over time, daily family involvement has only managed to enable the addict. Family members frequently do not know how to bring up the issue of addiction therapy, and opt to ignore the problem for fear of pushing their loved one away during a confrontation or intervention.
These are legitimate concerns, and while families should understand that approaching their loved one should be a gentle and supportive process, they also need to understand that most patients seek substance abuse treatment because of positive family involvement and intervention.
Prior to Substance Abuse Treatment and Intervention
Each family is different, and the best way to approach family involvement with addiction therapy will differ with every person. There are counselors in your area who are trained to work with drug- and alcohol-addicted patients and their families, and while they can be useful to mediate the intervention process, your family may decide to have a private, non-confrontational and honest talk with the addict to implore them to seek treatment.
Whichever approach you take, it is important to understand that the family dynamic in drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly powerful, and that addressing an unhealthy imbalance in communication is your first step in moving your loved one toward addiction therapy. This type of positive family involvement can also help lead the rest of your family toward a journey of recovery and self-discovery.
During a Patient’s Substance Abuse Treatment Program
After an intervention, the best-case scenario is that the addicted individual will be compelled to enter either an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program. Each patient’s needs and means are different, and outpatient and inpatient programs have varying benefits for patients and family.
Involvement in an outpatient addiction therapy program means that patients are not separated from their families, they are able to attend classes in a facility close to their home, and patients can continue substance abuse treatment for an extended amount of time. In an inpatient (residential) program, patients travel to a facility where they undergo an intensive 28- to 30-day detoxification and recovery program. They are immersed in the recovery process and do not have the ability to leave the substance abuse treatment campus. However, family involvement is important, and inpatient addiction therapy programs often encourage frequent interaction with visiting family and friends.
As previously mentioned, patients’ needs vary, but inpatient substance abuse treatment has the obvious benefit of removing the drug- or alcohol -addicted individual from the toxic atmosphere that was enabling their addiction, and helping them through addiction therapy without distraction. This same benefit is transferred to the patient’s friends and family, who are often able to gain a new perspective about their loved one’s addiction and their own behaviors.
Family involvement, once the patient is in an off-site substance abuse treatment facility, is periodic and helps families step back and recognize negative behavior patterns. For example, well-meaning family and friends often become trapped in a cycle of enabling and codependency with the patient prior to addiction therapy. They pretend like nothing is wrong and unintentionally assist the patient’s addiction by ignoring the problem.