Family Recovery Programs Treat Family Trauma Stemming from Addictions

Alcoholism and drug addiction traumatize and stress the entire family, and without intervention through a family recovery program, trauma can affect an individual for a lifetime.

Living in an intensely emotional environment of fear and manipulation, family members of an addict must deal with high levels of stress and anxiety. It is not unusual for family members to feel like they are losing their sense of normalcy and self as their loved one’s addiction makes the family dynamics increasingly dysfunctional.

In an effort to cope with this uncontrollable situation, family members may resort to hiding the truth from themselves and others, avoiding genuine connection to minimize painful conversations, and feeling intense levels of guilt and shame. These coping mechanisms can keep family members from seeking help.

But just as the whole family suffers when one member is an addict, whole family is part of the recovery process. Without a family recovery program, family members may suffer effects that last a lifetime.

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Family Recovery Programs Treat Family Trauma Stemming from Addictions

Some of the documented consequences of untreated addiction trauma in family members (especially in children, extending through their lifetime) include:

  • Learned helplessness—When a person can’t change the negative circumstances in his or her life, they eventually give up, and this helplessness affects other areas of their life.
  • Depression—Painful negative emotions that are unexpressed or unresolved can turn inward on the self, causing depression.
  • Anxiety—A general sense of anxiety may lead the sufferer to project that anxiety onto a phobia, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, etc.
  • Emotional constriction—People can become numb and their emotions shut down in the face of panic.
  • Distorted reasoning—Children who have had to make sense of frightening or chaotic experiences without proper adult care will develop a convoluted reasoning system as they grow older.
  • Loss of trust and faith—Breakdowns in primary, dependent relationships (such as between a child and an addicted parent) will cause the child to lose the ability to trust others.
  • Hyper vigilance—Highly stressful environments in the household of an addict leaves everyone else anxious and constantly alert to danger.
  • Traumatic bonding—Often, children of addicts lack support systems outside of their house, and they form unhealthy bonds with their addicted parents.
  • Loss of ability to accept help—Because trauma causes emotional numbness, children of addicts fear letting down their guard to accept help, for fear they will be let down again
  • Problems with self-regulation—Trauma in a child’s life deregulates their limbic system (the system in our body in charge of regulating our emotions), leading to drastic emotional high and low mood swings, thinking, and behavior.
  • Easily triggered; hyper-reactive—Stimuli that reminds a child of past trauma can easily trigger reactions; that stimuli can be as obvious as yelling or gun fire or as small as loud noises or even an eye expression.
  • High-risk behaviors—a pain-filled and numb inner world leads to attempts to feel again through risky behaviors (sexual behaviors, reckless driving, out of control spending, fighting, etc.)
  • Disorganized inner world—Family members, especially children, of addicts lose a sense of relatedness and suffer from emotional disconnectedness.
  • Survival guilt—Those who “get out” of a traumatizing family situation often feel guilt over the ones left behind to deal with the mess.
  • Development of rigid psychological defenses—In an attempt of self-protection, people may develop mental defenses such as dissociation, denial, repression, minimization, projection, etc.
  • Cycles of reenactment—Unfortunately, without the proper therapy, children of addicts may unconsciously repeat the same unhealthy dynamics of their past.
  • Relationship issues—Issues that family members of addicts may face in other relationships include: over or under engaging, inability to receive and give love and care, exploding or withdrawing, etc.
  • Desire to self-medicate—A pain-filled inner world may lead to the use of drugs, alcohol, or behavioral addictions to attempt find peace.

Beachway Therapy Center’s Proven Family Recovery Program

There is Hope for Lasting Family Recovery

young woman receiving help during drug treatmentIf you have a family member who is going to treatment you have probably been through a lot. The sleepless nights, wondering if they are safe, feeling anger, frustration and fear. If only they could stop using! It’s an arduous path and now you probably feel a big sense of relief. Relief…and maybe a void. So much time and energy has been directed towards the addict or the alcoholic that its difficult to let go of the worry and the obsessive thoughts. This is because many people aren’t sure how to support someone in rehab.

Now you may wonder what they are doing in treatment, will they get better, what happens when they come home? The hamster wheel just changes direction and the focus becomes the recovery vs. the addiction, wondering when the other shoe will drop.

Recovery needs to happen for the family, as well as for the identified addict/alcoholic. The family needs to let go of the control and obsession about their loved one as much as the client needs to let go of their addiction. This is an important step in learning how to support someone in rehab.

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Here at Beachway Therapy Center, we care for the healing of the entire family. Trying to treat an individual addict without addressing family recovery would only be treating one facet of the problem. The entire family suffers when one member is an addict, so the whole family must be a part of the recovery process.

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Dealing effectively with addiction is a learned skill that families must master and practice daily if they are to experience true healing from the trauma of addiction. You might feel hopeless in the face of the terrible addiction of your loved one. But with the help and support of the caring therapists at Beachway Therapy Center, we want to assure you that family recovery is not only possible, but it can be a reality for you!

The best part about our family recovery program is that it is offered absolutely free to family members of our patients.

  • Learn about your role in the recovery process of your loved one
  • Realize how to best support your loved one through their treatment
  • Recognize the emotional consequences of addiction and the impact of addiction on the family
  • Distinguish the differences between helping and enabling
  • Promote healthy boundaries for positive family relationships
  • Perceive how important it is to be involved your own recovery program
  • Set long-term goals to promote long term recovery

Addiction is a Family Disease

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Addiction is a family disease and dysfunctional and unhealthy family dynamics require healing and change. While the client is in treatment they are getting intensive group and individual therapy with constant focus on recovery. Families however, do not typically have that luxury.

It is critical for the success and continued sobriety for the client that the family change too.

Active participation in family programs and individual therapy, Al-anon, Naranon, Families Anonymous or similar groups can be extremely helpful, as well as participating in a Family Program that the treatment center offers.

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Resources for Families and Friends of Addicts and Alcoholics

The Challenges of Learning How To Support Someone in Rehab

The first hurdle when learning how to support someone in rehab is keeping the client in treatment. The vast majority of people coming into treatment will want to leave prematurely at some point. It is the “fight, flight or freeze” response to stress and treatment is stressful. Often this happens in the first few days when the client is still detoxing and is uncomfortable.

The desire to stop the discomfort and pain can overcome any rational thinking and the denial can be so powerful that the client is unaware they that they aren’t making smart choices. The family has to be strong enough to say no to the client when they ask to come home. Sometimes this might mean removing all access to funds, not taking phone calls and allowing the client to “sink or swim.”

The dichotomy is that the more the family tries to help or rescue the client, the more they actually enable or contribute to the disease and potentially prevent the client from recovering.

How To Help a Loved One Stay in Rehab

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Sometimes the client does fine for the first couple weeks and then when the deeper issues start surfacing, they want to run.

The lure of their addiction becomes too strong and when confronted by harsh truths the client can’t tolerate the reality that brings with it pain, guilt, shame and grief.

If the family steps in and rescues the client they are robbing the client of the opportunity to learn positive coping skills and build confidence in themselves.

A firm stand by loved ones can make the difference between a client staying or leaving treatment prematurely; the difference between life and death.

Keeping a Family Member From Relapsing After Rehab

Then finally the day of discharge draws near and a new set of fears may develop. What will happen when they return home? Or maybe, will they even return home? There are many factors that go into creating a comprehensive individualized discharge plan.

It is important for the family to rely on the recommendations of the professionals that understand all the factors and know the best follow up care for each person in their hometown or possibly a local alternative, if the client stays in the area.

Learning to let go and give up the futile attempt to control the addict/alcoholic, trusting in both the professionals and the process, is as important to the recovery of the client as it is to the recovery of the family members. Again, solid and consistent participation in Al-anon, Naranon, or Families Anonymous and individual and/or group therapy can help the family with this transition.

For the client, participation in daily 12 Step groups, working with a sponsor to complete the 12 Steps and participation in a good aftercare IOP program can make the difference between ongoing, long term sobriety and relapse.

It is important to understand that though it is not ideal, relapse is a common component of recovery and can even be a positive learning experience. With commitment and professional guidance both the family and the client can recover and experience long term sobriety.

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Call Beachway Therapy Center Today

Our expert team of therapists, counselors and administrators are standing by, ready for your call. If you need help getting a loved one into rehab, call us at 877-284-0353 today.

Take Your First Step

Begin your recovery