When a member of a family is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it affects the entire family unit. While there may be only one “identified patient”, the entire family unit is an active participant in some way. Whether the person struggling is the husband or wife, the father or mother, the daughter or son – the entire family system and each member’s role is impacted. Take a look at the 3 points below for some specifics that are important to remember when addressing family involvement in addiction treatment.
1. Understanding of Dynamics of Family System
It’s important to understand that the family is a system of parts. They are interconnected parts that are dependent on each other to make the system work at the status quo. When one part of that system is the identified patient, that person getting treatment, help, or changing their role will have an impact on the whole unit. It is important to have an awareness of the shifts and changes.
2. Supportive Boundaries after Discharge
Navigating family roles and boundaries after treatment is difficult. You will most likely need some help. Boundaries will need to be set that help hold the struggling family member accountable in their early recovery. They will also need to know that they are supported and loved.
3. Managing Expectations
Managing expectations is essential during and after treatment. There is no rule book or life course that you can take that can help you figure out life with addiction, as either the identified patient or the family member. Having support of a knowledgeable third party can be helpful in navigating family programs as well as expectations after treatment.
Having a treatment center or an addiction professional family program that understands the dynamics of the family system is important – prior to, during, and after the treatment stay. It is essential to be sure that you ask about a treatment program’s perspective on family involvement in treatment.