Family Therapy for Addiction

When a person goes into treatment, their family can benefit from understanding the unhealthy ways they’ve coped with their loved one’s addiction. Programs for family members of addicts can help families and their struggling loved ones throughout the recovery process.

This is why Ambrosia Behavioral Health offers family therapy sessions and family programming. With the right resources and support from a professional and compassionate family therapist, family units can find the healing they need to move forward.

A family therapy program for addiction involves the entire family in the recovery process. Addiction is a disease that impacts important relationships in a person’s life. Families might adopt poor communication and unhealthy coping skills while living with an addicted family member.

Family therapy for addiction helps families learn effective ways to communicate and express their feelings. Some family members, especially children, assume that they are responsible for their loved one’s addiction. They might hold their feelings inside and never learn to communicate their needs within the family. Family therapy can help address these often unseen issues.

family therapy for substance abuse

Types of Family Therapy for Addiction

While not all treatment centers offer all types of family therapy for substance abuse, it’s important to be aware of the various approaches available. Some of the main family therapies include the following:

  • Family behavior therapy (FBT)
  • Functional family therapy (FFT)
  • Brief strategic family therapy (BSFT)
  • Multi-dimensional family therapy (MDFT)
  • Community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT)
  • Multisystemic therapy (MST)
  • Solution-focused brief therapy

The various types of family counseling all work to resolve family problems and family dysfunction as they relate to substance abuse. They also seek to provide support for the family members of those who are struggling with substance abuse.

What are the Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction?

Family therapy programs provide several benefits for those with substance abuse and their loved ones. Many families of those in recovery believe that if their loved one gets help, all the issues in the family will go away. However, addiction in the home creates unhealthy behavioral patterns among all family members. Family programs uncover and address these issues to improve the lives of everyone involved.

Effective communication and active listening during family therapy can help family members learn healthy ways to address their needs, express concerns, and show affection for one another.

Setting boundaries and limits might feel uncomfortable for family members at first. During family therapy, families can practice these skills to remind themselves that their needs matter just as much as everyone else within the family unit.

Self-care is critical during recovery from addiction and for family members involved in the process. Substance abuse can put a strain on the lives of those involved. Many people living with a person addicted to drugs and alcohol often put their needs aside for the person struggling.

When a family member has an addiction, others might learn not to depend on this person to help them with their needs. They might feel abandoned or have been let down in the past. Family programs can help to rebuild trust in these important relationships.

Codependency is common in the relationships of those with substance use disorders. Family programs can help end the codependent relationship patterns that trigger and enable addictive behaviors.

family therapy for addiction
family therapy for addiction in Wisconsin

Family Therapy Can Help Address Codependency

Codependency can be part of a relationship between someone who has a substance use disorder and a loved one. The codependent person often identifies as a “giver” and enjoys feeling needed by the person they rely on, even when they provide things that are ultimately unhealthy for them. The person with the addiction — and accompanying mental health issues — fills the role of the “taker.” They continue their addictive behaviors because the codependent person offers them excuses and protection.

Ryan Potter, MSW, MCAP, ICADC, and Director of Clinical Development for Ambrosia Treatment Center explains further:

“They have good intentions, trying to take care of a person who is struggling, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. When codependents place other people’s health, welfare, and safety first, they lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self. The addict, who can and should be taking care of themselves, has less confidence in their resiliency and capabilities and fewer motives to change their behavior.”

Family Therapy Can Help Address Enabling Behaviors

When a loved one struggles, the natural inclination is to offer help. It crosses a line when a person has the best intentions but instead enables the person. What initially feels helpful protects someone from consequences that motivate them to change and seek addiction treatment.

If you are unsure whether or not you enable a loved one, ask yourself if you do any of the following:

  • Ignore things they do that are dangerous and sustain their addiction
  • Keep their problems a secret from others
  • Lie and offer excuses for the person
  • Blame other people and situations for the person’s addiction or behaviors
  • Avoid talking about drugs or alcohol with them
  • Provide drugs or alcohol to them
  • Prioritize their needs over your own
  • Act out of fear of what may happen if the loved one has to take responsibility for their actions
  • Feel resentment towards the loved one but still enable them
  • Hope or assume that the situation will get better on its own
family therapy

Communication During Family Therapy Sessions

It’s normal to want to be constantly reassured that your loved one is okay. After all, you’ve spent months if not years worrying. However, both sides need to understand what healthy communication in treatment looks like. Here’s what to expect from us and your loved one.

Talking to Your Loved One

Talking daily is not healthy. It becomes a distraction to them immersing themselves in the treatment environment. They need to form their own opinions and deal with sensitive emotions (like shame for hurting you). They’re here to talk with trained therapists and peers to build support networks and get to the root of the issue.

They may express a desire to leave early at some point during their addiction treatment journey. This is not a good sign. Instead of buying into their story right away, take some time to think and gather the facts. Speak to their therapist to get a clearer picture of what’s in the best interest of your loved one. No matter how “bad” circumstances are that they describe, you should never help or encourage them to leave early without an immediate plan for continued treatment.

You can contact the facility at any time. However, you will not be immediately connected with your loved one. Even in emergencies (like the death of a loved one), therapist approvals ensure things are communicated and planned for in the best possible way.

Talking with Us

Your loved one and HIPPA regulations dictate if and what we can communicate with you. If communication is lax on our part, they may not have signed a release or designated someone else as the primary contact. The therapist will only call the primary contact. That person should update all other family members.

They can revoke their consent at any time. This usually means they want to keep important information from you and this is not a good sign. We‘ll do our best to convince them to keep communication open. As frustrating as it is, they control the communication of their treatment (by law).

Both Wellness and their therapist will contact you once a week with an update, pending a release being signed. If you do not hear from the therapist within 1 week, please call the facility. To provide the highest level of care for each client, therapists cannot be on the phone with loved ones all day.

No news is good news. You’ll be informed if your loved one is admitted to a hospital or leaves treatment early. Instead of worrying when you don’t hear from us, remember it means they’re actively in addiction treatment.

Family Therapy and Programming at Ambrosia

Engaging Speakers

Engaging Speakers

From the outside, substance abuse is difficult to understand. Spend a half day learning more about the disease and your role in recovery.
Personal Exercises

Personal Exercises

Start to communicate your feelings in a group or private family therapy session available on Friday or Monday, scheduled with the therapist.
Visiting Hours

Visiting Hours

After the session each day, they can get a pass to spend the afternoon with you. In some cases, even off-site. Use the time to relax and reconnect.

Facility Contact Info

Find phone numbers, emails, and the family weekend schedule below for our locations in South Florida:

Port St. Lucie, FL

Facility Phone — (772) 323-2099

Facility Address:

546 NW University Blvd Suite 103 Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

Singer Island, FL

Facility Phone — (561) 721-8800

Facility Address:

2626 Lake Drive, Singer Island, Florida 33404

Find the Support Your Family Needs at Ambrosia Behavioral Health

Anyone can learn to break the cycle of enabling their loved ones. Getting guidance and support from professionals or other families in similar situations helps you make changes. Ambrosia Behavioral Health of South Florida helps

If someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug abuse, it is likely that your whole family has been suffering from family conflict, emotional challenges, mental health struggles, and more difficulties. Substance misuse affects family dynamics in many ways and can make life incredibly challenging for the family members of suffering individuals. But, there is hope.

With help from family support groups and family counseling services here at Ambrosia Behavioral Health, families can explore substance use disorder treatment options for their struggling loved ones while also getting the help and healing they need.

Family therapy helps reduce stress, improve communication skills, resolve family issues, improve emotional regulation, and increase the overall well-being of the family unit. To learn more about our family programming, contact our admissions team today. Let us help your family heal!

those struggling with addiction and their families with our family program for addiction. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more.

Table of Contents
Scroll to Top