Addiction is not an individual disease but a pervasive disease impacting the addict’s family and friends. Substance abuse disorders directly affect those who care about the addict, whether they are mothers, fathers, siblings, employers or next door neighbors. In most cases, addicts have consistently refused offers of help from family members. Or, they are being enabled by parents, grandparents or siblings who give the addict money to buy drugs, drive them to meet drug dealers and offer them a place to stay without expecting anything in return.
The Importance of Including Family Members in Treatment Programs
Addicts eventually turn to their families following treatment. This is why it is so critical that families be involved in nearly all aspects of an addict’s treatment program. Before families begin our workshop and dynamics classes, a counselor will prepare them by describing what to expect when the addict is confronted with the real possibility that they must learn to live without drugs or alcohol. Families are also educated about why the ability of the family to remain supportive but non-enabling is vital to the long-term recovery of their loved one.
The role of the family in recovery programs is often overlooked since the spotlight is on the addict. The Florida House Experience understands how important family dynamics are in the treatment and recovery stage of addiction. Our experienced, caring counselors will meet with families as a group and individually to provide therapeutic insight into what is expected of them.
What is an Enabler?
The disease of addiction is frequently encouraged by the actions of an enabler. An enabler is typically a parent, grandparent or spouse who believe they are helping the addict by showing concern and loyalty for someone who seems to be a “victim”. Enablers desperately want to avoid confrontation and will deliberately avoid confronting the addict by giving in to the addict’s demands. In addition, enablers think that by preventing (avoiding) conflict, the problem will eventually solve itself.
Enabling is a form of positive reinforcement that encourages negative behavior in a drug addict. If an addict’s family member always give in to an addict’s demands for money, transportation, food, and shelter, they are positively reinforcing (rewarding) their behaviors.
Using evidence-based psychotherapeutic techniques in our family program, counselors educate family members about the importance of allowing addicts to finally experience the consequences of their addiction.
Our Family Program Workshop
Florida House Experience offers a three-day workshop program for families of addicts specifically designed to give them the tools essential for coping and communicating effectively with other family members.
Goals of our family workshop include:
- Addressing frequent recovery and relapse problems
- Stopping enabling behaviors by discovering why someone is an enabler
- Providing support and education regarding family members’ own psychological and physical well-being
- Emphasizing the importance of honest, open communication among family members
The Florida House Experience family workshop may also need to focus on the issue of generational addiction if applicable. The disease of addiction often involves an addict who may have grown up surrounded by other addicts–whether alcoholics, prescription drug or illegal drug addicts. During psychotherapy, strong emotions repressed for years within a family torn apart by addiction are brought to the surface and effectively dealt with.
What is Family Psychotherapy?
Therapy sessions included in our family program develop powerfully collaborative relationships among the addict, their family and the multidisciplinary team comprising the sessions. These relationships are vital to promoting the motivation to stay in our program and follow any aftercare recommendations provided by counselors.
At the core of psychotherapy is the fundamental idea that individuals suffering from an addiction (or mental health problem) will benefit from talking about their concerns and fears with an objective yet compassionate psychotherapist. Psychotherapy has successfully helped millions of people deal with addictions or addicted loved ones by placing them in a safe environment with a professional therapist to “talk out” their innermost thoughts, feelings, disappointments and desires.
Counselors skilled in psychotherapeutic techniques gently but firmly maneuver people into resolving conflicts and coping with the pain of traumatic events by exploring concepts such as self-esteem, self-identity and unfulfilled desires.
A common form of psychotherapy used by counselors at the Florida House Experience is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). By emphasizing the importance of how you perceive or think about an event directly influences your mood, emotion and attitude, CBT teaches people ways to correct faulty patterns of thinking that tend to distort the reality of a situation.
Our therapists also apply principles of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), an offshoot of CBT that shows people how to take control of their emotions and thought processes by identifying certain “triggers”. Triggers lead to overly reactive behaviors caused by negative thoughts that ultimately lead to the person making irrational decisions. Through DBT, our counselors show family members and substance abusers how to apply appropriate coping skills to avoid acting on unproductive emotions and thoughts.
Instead of promoting the view of the therapist as an authoritative figure, dialectical behavior therapy encourages acceptance of counselors by family members as allies instead of adversaries. Accordingly, DBT therapists refrain from critiquing a person’s assertions and instead, aim to validate and accept a person’s feelings or thoughts at any given time. However, therapists trained in DBT will not hesitate to inform clients that some of their decisions, behaviors or emotions are maladaptive and will show them through DBT that there are better, more rational decision alternatives.
About Our Family Dynamics Classes
The Florida House Experience also offers several educational classes for outpatient/residential patients. These classes inform them on the inter-relational dynamics of a healthy family and what they can do to rethink beliefs detrimental to moving forward with healing their family.
If you are the parent or grandparent of an addict, our Family Dynamics Class is essential for helping you get through the pain, confusion and sense of hopelessness you may feel about failed past attempts getting help for your child or grandchild. Family Dynamics Class provides the support, encouragement and education you need to be there for your child/grandchild when they need you the most without resorting to enabling behaviors or anger.
Brothers and sisters of addicts will also benefit from participating in our Family Dynamics Class. When the disease of addiction impacts a family, siblings often feel the trust and deep love between siblings is irrevocably broken. We can help restore that trust and love by teaching siblings why addiction is a disease and not a behavior problem, what to expect from a recovering addict and how they can help their family member recover from their addiction.
Substance abusers in treatment are also urged to take our Family Dynamics Class to learn how the disease of addiction insinuates itself into every aspect of familial relationship. They will be given valuable psychological tools to help them improve and develop relationships that affirm the present and dismiss the past.
Learning how to improve social skills is also part of the Family Therapy Program. Especially important is improving interpersonal communication skills with family members, friends, and new acquaintances without resorting to manipulation or dishonesty. Since addiction often leads addicts to committing crimes and buying/selling drugs, their interpersonal communication “skills” are primarily restricted to activities involving illegal drugs. It is vital to addicts completing a recovery program to learn socially acceptable coping mechanisms.
In addition to psychotherapy, CBT, and DBT, counselors include an emphasis on self-dependency and self-control when talking to family members and addicts. As everyone develops decision-making and rational thinking skills by participating in psychotherapy with professional addiction counselors, their ability to make rational decisions increases their sense of worth while also improving their overall quality of life.
Contact Us Today for More Information About Our Family Programs