Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

Addiction and the Family

Addiction and the Family

By: Sara Arce, LMHC, CAP

Addiction is a family disease and treatment should be in the context of a family system. It is common for families to respond with dysfunctional and ineffective coping behaviors to the disruptive behaviors of a loved one struggling with substance use and/or psychiatric disorder.

As the Director of Family Services, I have found the greatest rates of success in recovery are when the family system invests in the recovery process. Investing in the recovery process means that family members are willing to change the behavior and thinking patterns that fuel the addiction and psychiatric process. Just like any system, change in one area will naturally invoke change in others, due to the interconnectedness that exists within all systems. The family is no different. When we treat addiction and other mental health disorders from a family systems approach, we quickly increase our chances of sustained success.

The reality of relapse and regression is one of the biggest challenges and disappointments experienced by individuals and families. Although successful in treatment, many clients return to an unhealthy environment around other family members. However, we have found that families who invest in the recovery process, see it is the changes at home that serve as a barrier to relapse. More importantly, the family was a source of strength that supported the continued growth and healing of everyone.

At Lifeskills South Florida the Family STEER Program offers family members Support, Training, Education, Empowerment and ultimately leads them into Recovery (STEER). In our intensive family program, loved ones work directly with a licensed therapist who serves as the family’s advocate and voice. Our program entails weekly family therapy, a therapeutic family retreat, family support groups, family restructuring and direct involvement with the treatment team. Using a multidisciplinary model, we often include other staff members working with the family such as the case manager, psychiatrist, nursing staff, primary therapists, and administration. We recognize how important families are in achieving recovery, and are committed to supporting them throughout the treatment process from admission to discharge and long after.

Change within a family system takes time and is not easy. However, it is attainable through individual therapy, family therapy, self-help groups, and education programs. Surrendering to the process, meaning excepting the support and recommendations of others, sets families up a positive outcome. One of the greatest lessons learned is isolation does not produce success. An effective treatment program involves community, family, friends, professionals, faith groups, and a supportive recovery community.  Just as the person suffering from addiction must first recognize the problem, family members must be open to challenging themselves and altering their thinking and response to anxiety-provoking situations.

Lifeskills South Florida employs highly specialized clinicians that will help equip you with the life skills needed to become more independent and prepare you and your family for life after recovery. We offer our clients a customized treatment program in both residential and outpatient settings and are one of the most reputable drug rehabs in the Fort Lauderdale area. Our therapeutic family program gives family members the care and education needed to support you after discharge. To learn more about enrolling at Lifeskills South Florida, please contact us.


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