Addiction can significantly affect families by impairing the functioning, health, and overall well-being of every family member—for those suffering from substance abuse and those who are not, too. Just as problems within the family can influence addiction, a supportive family environment can play an important role in the recovery process.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), family therapy, also known as family counseling, includes interventions that reflect family-level assessments, involvement, and approaches.
Evidence suggests that people who have family support are more likely to remain in treatment, stop misusing substances, and stay sober. The importance of support applies to relationships of all types. For example, a study of couples who participated in behavioral couples therapy experienced improved levels of abstinence and better communication than the more typical individual-based therapy.
Family involvement is important but it’s not for everyone. After dealing with a loved one with substance abuse for a long time, some family members might feel emotionally and psychologically drained, they may fear the unknown, or be wary of sharing family problems with a stranger. Regardless of the rationale, it might be helpful to enlist a family therapist to talk one-on-one with each family member about their concerns. Family members who want to participate in therapy can do so, while unwilling family members can join when they feel ready.