Addictions aren’t private disorders that impact just one person.
Instead, they’re very public problems that can change the way a family relates, interacts and reacts to outsiders. If an addiction program treated only the addicted person and the family remained the same, it’s quite likely that the addiction problem would come roaring right back to life. The family’s environment is still tainted by the addiction, and it simply must be revised if the addict is to achieve long-term recovery.
According to Mental Health America, codependency was first identified as a mental health disorder about 10 years ago, when researchers began examining the inner functions of families of alcoholics. While each family is a little bit different, some basic traits seem to be shared in codependent families.
- Lack of communication. Family members don’t discuss the addiction.
- Shifting focus. The entire family is fixed upon the addiction, not individual needs.
- Lack of trust. Family members don’t feel as though their feelings and thoughts will be respected.
- Detachment. These family members may display little affection or emotion.
In this environment, one person may become a caregiver, both for the addicted person and for the family at large. By trying to make everyone feel just a bit better, that person might inadvertently lock the addiction in place. By protecting the person against the consequences of the addiction, the codependent person ensures that no real healing might begin.
Living in a family like this can be challenging. If you’re struggling with codependency, it might even be hard for you to admit that your family even has a problem to begin with. Family therapy programs can provide meaningful help. In a group setting, your family will have the opportunity to learn more about the addiction, and how it can be effectively controlled with medication, therapy and support. You’ll all learn more about how relapses commonly take place, which might allow you to step in when you see your family member beginning to make dangerous choices when rehab is complete. In addition, the whole family will be provided with the opportunity to discuss how the addiction process has changed the dynamics of the family, and what might need to happen to return the family to a healthier state.
It can even be a beneficial therapy for people struggling with mental illnesses. In one study, published in the journal Family Management in the Prevention of Exacerbations of Schizophrenia, researchers note that only 6 percent of patients with schizophrenia treated with family therapy relapsed to mental illness, while 44 percent of those who did not receive this therapy experienced a relapse. These are amazing recovery statistics.
At The Oaks at La Paloma, we include family members in all of our programs. Once each month, we offer an intensive family program, allowing family members to come together with the person they love and participate in formal treatment sessions for addiction. We also provide process group time, so the families can talk through the difficulties of living in a family like this. We’re eager to help your family, and we’d like to get started. Admissions coordinators are available 24 hours per day to take your call.