Families, just like individuals, recover from alcohol use disorder and substance use disorders in general. It is not easy, but amongst mental health diseases, there are a higher percentage of success stories about people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction than almost any other mental health illness. The following fact is obvious to people who have had a close loved one with substance use disorder or addiction, and may be less intuitive for those that have not; the disease of addiction is a family disease. The ups and downs of relapse and recovery are felt by family members, and the fact that an individual addict has a family can complicate things but can also be an incredibly important support infrastructure if that addict reaches treatment. In Florida drug and alcohol treatment, family therapy can be a key asset in a patient’s overall recovery. Let me give you another example:
“A 35 year-year old girl makes the decision to enter rehab, as she will be destitute and homeless if she does not accept the offer of a trip to rehab from her family. Her family and loved ones are the first to hear the good news that she will finally be seeking treatment for a disease that has taken so much from her and her family. Next, the girl leaves rehab after just a few days. Although the medical staff at the recovery center did everything in their power to convince her to stay and used all medical means available to make her comfortable, she made the unfortunate decision to leave against medical advice (AMA). The woman used her small batch of food money to get high for a day or two and was left in a much more difficult situation than before she entered rehab. Now, she has no place to stay at night, and whenever she decides to break the news to her parents that she left the treatment facility, she believes she will have little opportunity to get the cash she needs to continue using drugs. She wishes she had not left rehab and is disgusted at the many lies she has told to her family but does not know what to do.”
Most people hear that short story and see awful decision making. A few years into my career working around addiction and addiction treatment, I personally see very little real decision making at all. People with the disease of addiction in active drug use cannot readily explain their own decisions related to drugs, and families are baffled that their addicted loved ones turn down opportunities for a better life. This is where Family-Oriented Treatment comes to the rescue. If everyone involved in the situation from the above story better understood addiction and dependence to substances, there would be less fear and more of an ability to work towards a common goal, however daunting that goal may be.
What is Family-Oriented Treatment?
The study we used for research today listed 10 separate therapies that included both the patient (Person with Substance use Disorder) and the family members of the patients. 3 of the therapies were designed for couples, so we took a closer look at the 7 therapies that were whole-family oriented. The first is the Five Step Method, from a book of the same name. I will attempt to detail the Five Step Method.
With both the person suffering from substance use disorder and a group of family members:
- Explore sources of stress/strain
- Provide psychoeducation
- Identify ways of coping
- Identify social supports
- Address other family needs
I must first say that step number 5 seems to be perfectly placed. If a family was working with a therapist to go through the 5 steps: The therapist could simply push all concerns that fall outside of the current category until the end, leaving plenty of time to talk about and address other family needs. Sources of strain and stress that will be fresh in everyone’s mind may be those things that are related to the drinking or drug-using of the family member who is in treatment for substance use, but everyone would be able to speak during all 5 steps, and there are likely plenty of topics that could be expressed outside of the “drinking and drugging”. Furthermore, unlike a family “intervention”, or less structured process, the therapist who would be on hand is likely an expert in addiction and addiction medicine, meaning nobody feels like they are being ganged up on unnecessarily. Without spending time on all 5 sections of this one exercise, all sections are well suited for full family involvement. Number 1 is sources of stress and strain, and it is perfectly legitimate for everyone to have stresses and strains surrounding situations like this. I am more interested in number 4, social support.
For people to recover from the ravages of drinking and drug abuse, we must always begin to slowly build up social support. This is done by becoming re-engaged in the community after sometimes many years of keeping to oneself while using drugs or drinking, and family members, each individually, may be able to help the newly sober individual begin to build social support. Activities and participation with family can be a gateway to activities and participation with friends, both new and old. My main function in speaking about addiction in much of my writing is simply to act as the go-between from families with addiction problems and therapists and other professionals that can provide help to families in a crisis or heading for a crisis. If you or a loved one is in need of the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida, this blog is brought to you by the best addiction center in Panama City, Florida Springs Wellness and Recovery Center. Please do not hesitate to call us if you or a family member is in need of treatment, because as I have said many times in this story today, addiction is a family disease and Florida Springs is one of the few and the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in Panama City that always involves the family in the treatment and therapy of the patients.
By T.A. Cannon (Contact me at TACannonWriting@gmail.com)
- “THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY IN ALCOHOL USE DISORDER RECOVERY FOR ADULTS.” McCrady and Flanagan
- Copello A, Templeton L, Orford J, et al. The 5-Step Method: Principles and practice. Drugs (Abingdon Engl). 2010;17(suppl1):86-99. https://doi.org/10.3109/09687637.2010.515186.