At JourneyPure Bowling Green, we feel very strongly that family involvement throughout one’s addiction treatment is essential for long-term recovery. Organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend family therapy be incorporated into any substance abuse treatment program. We incorporate family programming into our treatment program at Bowling Green to ensure our patients and their loved ones have the support team necessary to thrive during and after treatment.
Why is Family Therapy Important?
Addiction knows no boundaries. The negative effect of addiction produces a domino effect throughout the user’s family, personal relationships, circle of friends and co-workers. Everyone feels the effects. Substance abuse can bring about many emotions, from sadness to anger to resentment – for both the addict and those around them. Knowing how to cope with personal feelings about a loved one’s addiction will benefit everyone involved.
Drugabuse.com offers these benefits for incorporating family therapy into treatment:
- Assisting the substance user to gain awareness of their needs and behaviors.
- Improving the mental and physical state of the entire family unit.
- Permitting family members to gain self-care interventions to improve their own well-being.
- Improving communication styles and relationship quality.
- Helping families understand and avoid enabling behaviors.
- Address codependent behavior that may be preventing recovery.
- Learning and understanding the systems in place that support and deter substance use.
- Preventing the substance use from spreading throughout the family or down through future generations.
Joseph Dabbs, operations manager at JourneyPure Bowling Green operates family programming the third full weekend of each month and calls it The Weekend of Hope and Healing. He uses this opportunity to educate families about the disease of addiction so they have a better understanding of their loved one’s struggle. The time is also used for therapy and interventions to help the patients and their families improve their relationships, build trust and talk about boundaries.
How Does Family Programming Work?
Saturdays are dedicated to just families. It’s a time for listening and for families to express their feelings about the addiction, in confidence, without the affected family member present.
“It’s important for families to know they need support in this challenging time as well,” he said. “They need to have a place to talk about these things and not let their emotions get the best of them when they’re talking to their loved ones because they can be triggered by looks and words.”
On Sundays families are reunited with their loved ones for group exercises that help foster communication skills and conflict resolution. One of the exercises Dabbs uses asks for both the patient and family member to write out what the four R’s – regrets, resentment, request and respect – mean to them. Although it’s an emotional process during the exchange, it’s a positive step toward healing some painful wounds.
“I try to explain how you can actually turn a personal tragedy into a triumph and can help motivate a person’s recovery process instead of condemning or blaming,” Dabbs explains. ”I look at ways create a sense of normal and purpose in life for the family and the patient.”
Additional Family Resources
Visit our Family Resource page for more helpful tips on helping a loved one affected by substance abuse. If you are a family member of someone struggling with addiction or is in recovery and need additional support, Al-Anon and Nar-anon are wonderful resources. You can click the links to find support group meetings in the Bowling Green area.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.