Drug abuse is a problem that affects more than the individual drug abuser. Everyone in the abuser’s life can be impacted, from co-workers to friends to members of the community. The abuser’s family is especially vulnerable to the effects of his or her drug abuse and it is the family that is most interested in seeing the abuser undergo treatment for drug recovery. Often a member of the abuser’s family will initiate drug recovery treatment by staging an intervention.
Drug addiction completely alters an addicted individual, making him or her unrecognizable to loved ones. Watching the downward spiral of addiction, family members experience a wide range of conflicting emotions that may include anger, disappointment, frustration, concern, fear and betrayal. They may have a strong desire to cut all ties with their addicted loved one.
An integral part of the drug recovery process is putting back together the pieces of a life that was shattered by addiction. The family should play an important role in supporting the recovering drug abuser. This usually requires mending broken relationships and re-establishing a sense of trust. Many treatment programs provide family therapy to help members of the family learn more about their loved one’s drug dependency and to address their own issues that may be related to the problem.
There are three main goals for family therapy during drug recovery:
(1) Help the family understand the nature and extent of their loved one’s addiction.
(2) Create or strengthen a family support system that will aid in their loved one’s drug recovery.
(3) Provide treatment for family members for emotional and psychological damages caused by the addiction.
Family therapy will help family members develop coping mechanisms through group therapy sessions, educational lectures and one-on-one counseling. The family will learn that there is no cure for drug addiction and that drug recovery is an ongoing process. By providing love and support, they can help their loved one avoid relapse and continue to progress on the road to recovery.