How Addiction Affects Families

Published On: February 21, 2018

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we strongly advocate the use of family therapy when it comes to alcoholism treatment. Families are often torn apart by a loved one’s addiction, and so it’s almost a given that the entire family will require some form of therapy to help them overcome the trauma that caused by a loved one’s alcoholism.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we understand that each family is unique, and so we recommend family therapy that’s highly tailored to you and your family’s needs.

Many people who work at Rehab 4 Alcoholism are themselves in recovery. This means we have seen first hand how alcoholism or drug addiction can inflict significant strain on loving relationships. Perhaps similar to your own situation, our parents, spouses, children and siblings all suffered due to our alcoholism.

Many of these relationships have now been mended thanks to professional family therapy and due to the good work conducted by organisations such as Al-anon.

Some people recover from their addiction and then happily rebuild their lives in new and productive ways. However, these people may be equally surprised when they learn there loved ones are simply unable to ‘forgive and forget’ past trauma linked to their loved one’s alcoholism.

Your loved ones may have suffered this alcoholism-linked trauma over many years. Thus, it’s unrealistic to assume these ‘scars’ will be healed merely because you have begun to succeed in your recovery.

You need to approach the issue of family trauma in a similar vein in which you treated your recovery. You can’t expect to mend your relationship with your family overnight. Instead, you will need to set realistic goals in helping you and your family salvage your relationship. In time, you will be able to almost fully restore or even surpass the quality of your relationship that existed before your alcoholism arose.

In time, you may all rationalise that your addiction to alcohol made you all closer in the end.

One of our callers who is now in recovery said: ‘my alcoholism ripped a hole in my relationships, and I just didn’t really care if I am honest with you.

‘This includes my relationship with my wife and with my two children’.

The disease of addiction

Many medical experts agree with the disease theory of addiction. The disease of addiction arises due to genetic and environmental factors. Even though addiction is a disease, it’s almost ubiquitous amongst those in recovery to blame themselves for their past addiction.

We aren’t saying that this disease theory means you are given a blank cheque when it comes to avoiding all responsibility for your past addiction but do bear in mind that there clearly are forces outside your control when it comes to why your addiction arise in the first place.

Getting help for addiction

Rehab 4 Alcoholism recommends inpatient addiction treatment. This means you will live in a rehab clinic whilst you detox and undertake daily therapy sessions. Many clinics we recommend family therapy sessions. These sessions are conducted by a professional therapist. Your family members will conduct one-to-one and group therapy sessions with these therapists.

Family members will be given a chance to examine their own thoughts and feelings. Therapy will help your family members overcome the trauma that’s caused by your addiction. Family therapy also incorporates educational workshops. These workshops aim to educate your family about addiction.

Strengthening your support network

Having a strong support network is an effective way to fight off relapse. When something goes wrong, having your family around to offer you support is perhaps the most powerful force that will prevent relapse. Thus, mending your relationship with your family will motivate your loved ones to support you through your recovery and come to your aid if your recovery is endangered.

The drawbacks of undergoing addiction treatment without family therapy

Undergoing addiction treatment without your family’s involvement is neglectful at best and positively selfish at worst. It’s easy to focus on yourself when you are going through the rehab and general recovery process. This sole focus on your own progress means it’s relatively easy to forget that your family were also significantly affected by your addiction.

If you neglect to include your family in your recovery, there is every risk that your family will become indifferent about your recovery. This may mean you become resentful about your family’s indifference. Involving your family in your recovery will mean your success in recovery also becomes their success too. You will thus begin to share your recovery goals with your loved ones.

How addiction affects children

Undoubtedly, addiction affects children far more than it affects adults. The trauma your children may have experienced at the hands of your addiction may be treatable, but it’s likely this trauma will remain with your children in some form for the rest of their lives.

This fact does not mean family therapy isn’t applicable for children. Many children have vastly benefited from attending family therapy sessions. Family therapy sessions have meant countless children have avoided negative mental illnesses that arose due to trauma caused by your alcoholism.

Studies prove that children affected by alcoholism are much more likely to develop alcoholism when they reach maturity. Undergoing family therapy sessions may help your children avoid this fate.

How addiction affects marriages

Likewise, addiction also negatively impacts your relationship with your spouse. It’s likely your spouse will feel highly alienated and neglected due to your past alcoholism. This is particularly true if you were dishonest about your drinking. Many people affected by alcoholism like to drink in isolation. This is typical because they will consume alcohol when it is socially unacceptable to do so. Many marriages do not survive into the recovery period for these reasons.

Sometimes it’s best to end a marriage rather than trying to revive it. Each case will differ, and we recommend you seek out the services of a marriage counsellor who has experience of assisting married couples who have been affected by addiction. Many rehab clinics we recommend do in fact offer marriage counselling services.

Getting help

To discover how to salvage your relationships with family members, contact Rehab 4 Alcoholism today on 0800 111 4108. Undergoing family therapy will help you and your family get over trauma inflicted by your addiction to alcohol.

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