Family workshops and family therapy sessions are now a standard component of most substance use disorder (SUD) rehab programs. While these are most often used for adolescents, these sessions can be useful for recovering individuals of all ages as well.
Therapy and workshop sessions involving family or close friends is not a new idea. These approaches have long been used for resolving conflicts and addressing mental health and relationship issues that may not necessarily have anything to do with drugs.
However, there are now some studies that show how familial support could predict better outcomes specific for people undergoing rehab. While the results are not a surprise for people who work in rehabs, hopefully, they will encourage family members to attend workshops and sessions regularly.
Here are some of the ways family participation helps SUD treatment. If you’re in New England, contact Boston Drug Treatment Centers to find listings of rehab programs that offer family-centric workshops and therapy.
1.) It helps resolve important issues
Unresolved family issues can contribute to SUD or make it more difficult to treat. While therapy and workshops are not the only way to resolve thorny issues between family members, the presence of an impartial counselor moderating these sessions can prevent family members from getting too carried away by emotions, potentially making things worse.
It’s also important to think of these workshops in terms of a patient’s long-term recovery, rather than just as an immediate way for them to get better. Even if the SUD had nothing to do with family, the state of everyone’s relationships has the potential to be a major stressor later in the patient’s recovery. These sessions can therefore lay more solid foundations for the patient to recover in, at least as far as their relationships with their family are concerned.
2.) It can help family members understand SUD and the rehab experience
Despite their closeness, parents, siblings, and children of recovering individuals don’t always understand SUD or what it involves. This can lead to a lot of anger, shame, and frustration that can interfere with one’s ability to heal and move on from drugs or alcohol.
Attending these sessions can do a lot to help everyone understand what people with SUD are going through. This can be key to helping family members better manage their expectations, which can prevent disappointment and help everyone rebuild relationships stronger than before. It can also allow the family members to aid the individual in their recovery, rather than to unintentionally slow them down.
3.) Family sessions can give counselors better context
Rehab is a very personalized process that often involves a unique set of solutions. A personalized approach can be especially important if the patient has a dual diagnosis or if they are an adolescent.
Because most people spend more time with family members than anyone else, understanding these relationships can help the counselor get a better idea of what treatment approaches should be made. The specific types of recommended psychotherapy or supplemental therapy, for example, can hinge on the things the counselor observes during family workshops.
4.) They can reduce a patient’s feelings of isolation
Most people undergoing rehab will appreciate it if family members take an interest in their recovery. In some cases, this kind of constructive support can be pivotal in ensuring one stays motivated to stay sober in the time after they complete rehab. Without family participation, patients can start to feel more isolated, which can compromise their long-term recovery success.
5.) It empowers family members and patients alike
Family participation in rehab can help improve a patient’s motivation and self-confidence. However, what many don’t consider is that it could be empowering for the family members themselves.
Family members often feel helpless when they’re with a loved one with an SUD, which can cause them to be withdrawn or lash out, either of which can be damaging to a relationship.By joining in family workshops and therapy sessions they can take an active role in their loved one’s recovery. This can help instill positive attitudes about recovery that are likely to be returned by the patient, further strengthening their drive to get better.
It should be noted, however, that family workshops and therapy in the context of SUD rehab programs are highly focused on the patient. Family members who have experienced trauma as a result of seeing their loved one live with SUD may benefit from seeking therapy and counseling outside of the recovery program.
Family members can and should take part in therapy and workshop sessions, not just for the sake of their loved one, but for their own emotional and mental health as well.
SUDs don’t just affect one individual. They can affect everyone in the family. Drug-taking behavior can cause conflict, destroy trust, and make it difficult to have honest communication. By taking an active, constructive role in rehab, family members can effectively lay the foundations not just for their loved ones’ recovery, but for stronger, more honest relationships down the road.