Contrary to popular belief, the rehab process is not like some magical spell that gets rid of addiction. It can best be described as a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs that should culminate in a drug-free life. Addiction affects everyone associated to the drug user, including co-workers, friends, and most importantly, the family. Therefore, family therapy is a necessary part of the rehabilitation process as the client learns to navigate his or her way through life without the crutch of drugs or alcohol.
Family therapy is an essential part of the recovery process because of the mutual desire to get better from the family members and the client. Family members will likely experience anger, sadness, or helplessness if they continue to let their loved one go down the downward spiral into despair as addiction worsens. Initially, clients may appear defensive or stand-offish, hesitant to express what they’re going through, however with continued display of support from family, clients will open up.
It’s important for the family therapist to act as a mediator, not lecturer, between the client and the relatives during family therapy. The therapist should encourage each party to be open and honest about their feelings in a manner that is neutral, not judgmental. They should use “I feel” statements as much as possible to avoid placing blame or pointing the finger.
Family therapy should be encouraged as an important part of the rehab process because it opens up the lines of communication between the addicted person and everyone affected by addiction. The rehab process, especially during the detox phase, is a lonely and difficult journey. The client will be experiencing not only emotional but physical pain, as the body attempts to rid itself of toxic chemicals. During this difficult and challenging time, clients need to be surrounded by people who care and are going to tell them the facts without sugarcoating the message, often referred to as “tough love”. “Tough love” is often meted out by family members when the client refuses to get sober. It is an ultimatum that requires the client to make one of the toughest choices of the client’s life: family or addiction, or even more severe, life or death.
Family therapy is a necessary aspect of any successful recovery. During the rehab process, clients might be overwhelmed with daily support groups, information about drugs and alcohol, and other peers who are going through the same struggle. While these new experiences are a necessary part of treatment and work to challenge the client to think in a different way, it’s just not as effective as the love and support provided by a parent, sibling, or spouse. The support and care of a family member can speed up the recovery process because the client soon realizes that he or she is not only hurting themselves, as well as those who truly love and care.
In summary, family therapy as part of the rehab process should be encouraged, and required. As long as the family therapy sessions are mediated by a therapist and facilitated in a loving and caring manner, they encourage everyone involved to be open and honest, and should have a huge impact on a client’s recovery process. Keep in mind, however, that ultimately it is up to the client to make a choice to stay sober. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, the most important step to make right now is admitting the problem and contacting a local rehab treatment facility to obtain professional help so that you or your loved one can end the destructive addiction.