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Family Therapy
addiction treatment centre for substance abuse

Family Therapy

Addiction affects all of an addict’s loved ones, whether directly or indirectly. The disease can destroy families just as much as it destroys the individual with the disorder. As the illness progresses, it becomes more than just one person’s problem, it has now become a family addiction. It is an exhausting experience living with an addict because it becomes difficult to draw the line between helping the addict and enabling the dangerous habit. Family therapy becomes necessary when you do not know how to help your loved one without furthering their addiction. Family therapy can inform members of their individual roles and how these roles impact their loved ones addiction.

Loved ones typically have a difficult time bringing up the idea of family therapy, so they often ignore the behavior until it becomes much more dangerous and difficult to control. Choosing to do nothing for your loved one will push them away in the long run, seeking help for them will not.


Family Roles

Co-dependency is a term used to describe a relationship in which one controls and the other enables. The addict and their family members are often engaged in a co-dependent relationship. In most cases, those closely associated with the addict will go to great measures to hide their addictive behavior from others. This is often what leads family members to begin enabling the drug or alcohol abuse. There are a variety of ways in which this behavior can occur and it can either be between one other person and the addict, or the family unit as a whole. By learning to identify some codependent roles, an addict’s loved ones can change their role in the addiction, in a way that is most beneficial to the long-term success of the addict.


  • The Addict – the person in which the family unit revolves around


  • The Hero – tries to make the family look as “normal” as possible


  • The Scapegoat – cries for help by expressing negative behavior. This is often a reaction to the positive support received by the hero


  • The Mascot – uses humor to distract everyone from the addict


  • The Lost Child – a loner family member who feels unimportant and basically disappears


  • The Caretaker – not only an enabler of the addictive behavior, but a supporter of the codependent roles everyone has taken



Couples and Family Therapy


Family therapy will be unique to each family’s addiction and the particular roles each member plays. Highly skilled counselors and therapists will be able to devise a treatment method that suits each family best. Yet, family therapy will usually address the imbalance in communication between family members and also show them how important their positive support is during the recovery process. This form of therapy has shown to dramatically increase happiness, lower relapse rates, and significantly improve parent/child relationships. Additional matters addressed during family therapy may include:


  • Admitting that the addiction exists
  • Helping to build stronger family bonds through counseling
  • Supporting not only the addict, but yourself on the road to recovery
  • Assisting the addict in seeking assistance on their own


The progressive disease known as addiction can cause irreversible emotional and physical deterioration if allowed to progress too far. Attempting to “fix” the problem without the help of professionals often leads to further conflict and confusion. Addiction treatment programs can help avoid this chronic dysfunction and act as a powerful force of change in the lives of everyone affected by the disease. Allow yourself to receive the education vital to supporting your loved one, long after their time in rehab has come to an end. End the dangerous cycle of addiction and co-dependency with family therapy.