To the Family
Family therapy is a critical and essential piece of treatment for addiction and mental health. Often times, we hear addiction is a family disease because the symptoms and behaviors of a person in active addiction impact those closest to them.
Some of these symptoms and behaviors are lying, stealing, anger, violence, loss of trust, manipulation, and emotional disengagement. Because of these symptoms, the family experiences their own trauma, which creates instability within the family system. The family system becomes a fragile and dysfunctional, and this often unwittingly contributes to the addiction as the family adopts destructive behaviors as a result of it.
Losing a child, loved one or partner is one of the greatest fears a person can experience. Because of that fear, families attempt to “rescue” their loved one by bailing them out of jail, paying for legal fees, make excuses and even lie to attempt to help. These attempts to mitigate consequences are not helpful, and, in fact, perpetuate the negative cycle of addiction.
Because families go into survival mode and often make fear-based decisions, families care-take the addicted person, thus keeping them from facing the natural consequences of their actions. The fear of losing a child is insurmountable and so boundaries are crossed, unhealthy behaviors are tolerated, financial strains are created and deep seeded resentments manifest.
Other factors impacting the family system are loss, abuse, school issues, divorce, mental health disorders, intergenerational trauma, and medical issues. These are all pieces to a puzzle that play into how addiction is not only created, but also perpetuated within the family system.
At Balance House, when your loved one is admitted family work begins. This is the first step in healing the family system and identifying what issues underly within family dynamic.
Families can expect a family therapy session once a week, access and support from the family therapist outside of the family session, phone calls from the client’s case managers, and weekly update emails from the client’s primary therapist.
Families are also asked to engage in our monthly family intensive program. This is a multi-day on campus experience where clients and families engage in intensive therapy individually and other families. Often times, we hear families get a sense of relief when their loved one begins their journey and starts or enters into a treatment program and we know that this is just the beginning of the process.
We believe this is a crucial for families to take a step back, catch their breath, sleep again, and not live in a constant state of fear. Families often pick up pieces of the fall-out from addiction, so experiencing relief when their loved one enters into treatment is quite normal yet unfamiliar.
To that end, we highly encourage families to start engaging in their own healing process. What does that mean? It that means family members start going to their own therapy, reading suggested books, and create their own community support network with others who has experience loving someone in active addiction.
This also means leaning into the discomfort of their own emotions and start their own recovery process. We ask families engage in the same way we ask of their loved ones to engage in our care. The family is a colossal part of the process and this is where long-term healing begins.