Although millions of individuals have achieved long-lasting sobriety due to their participation in twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, addiction treatment programs at alcohol and drug rehabs allow for a much greater degree of customization and more variety in their methods and offerings. Much as we focus on how individual therapy benefits the individual, our natural instinct is to focus on the various ways that family therapy benefits the family unit since familial relationships are a primary focus of this form of treatment.

In a recovery setting, family therapy serves the important function of being the means by which a patient’s family members are educated about addiction and recovery; however, another important focus is on helping members of a family to repair relationships by focusing on restoring healthy, effective, and respectful communication. As one person’s addiction can compromise both the psychological and physical well-being of an entire family, family-based counseling can be quite essential when it comes to recovery, particularly is the patient had been living with loved ones while in active addiction. Moreover, it’s important to remember that the actual patient — the individual receiving treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction — benefits from family therapy in a number of ways as well, which further makes family therapy an important part of the addict’s achieving sustainable sobriety.



When most people think about recovery, the association is often with counseling and psychotherapy. While individual counseling plays a central role in addiction recovery, there are many other types of treatments that play just as important of a part in the process of overcoming alcoholism and drug addiction. For instance, group-based counseling plays a vital role in most addiction treatment programs while family therapy is another common component. However, the notion of including family therapy in an addict’s recovery curriculum is often poorly understood as many individuals don’t realize how family therapy aids an addict’s recovery. Therefore, the following will explain what family therapy is, including describing the underlying belief on which family therapy is based and describe the benefits of family therapy for the addict himself or herself.

Where individual therapy takes place between a single patient and a single therapist, family therapy for addiction is a form of group counseling in which the group of patients are members of a single family. The basic tenet of family therapy is based on a rather simple concept, which states that any problem — whether it’s an injury, illness, disease, or any other type of hardship — that occurs to or affects one member of a family will also have some level of effect on the entire family unit. This refers to many different types of effects, including mental or emotional effects such as stress, financial effects, physical effects and so on. Therefore, family therapy is offered as part of substance abuse treatment because it addresses the various ways that one individual’s addiction affects his or her loved ones, which can be quite severe and even rival the effects the addict him or herself experiences.



Codependency is a major issue that can prolong an individual’s addiction. In short, codependency occurs when two individuals — typically family members or people in some other type of intimate relationship — are in a relationship in which both parties have developed an unhealthy level of dependence on one another. In cases of addiction, codependency usually means that the addict depends on a loved one to provide money, a place to live, and protection from legal repercussions relating to his or her substance abuse while the addict ensures that he or she won’t abandon or reject the loved one. This is also called enabling as the codependency enables the addict to continue his or her substance abuse.

Moreover, the loved one also serves as a buffer between the addict and the consequences of his or her actions, which allows the addict to continue to abuse alcohol or drugs while being free from having to deal with the negative outcomes of the behavior. As such, family therapy provides the family with a way to identify and address codependency within the family unit, helping the family to learn ways to overcome codependency and maintain healthy relationships with the addict as he or she progresses in recovery.

At Serene Beginnings, family therapy for addiction can also serve as the means with which many unknown issues or issues that family members may not have realized were present, are made known and addressed. For instance, maybe the addict or even other members of a family have mental or emotional problems that might have had some negative effect on the addict’s substance abuse. This is also a way for each family member to learn how to express their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and beliefs in a respectful yet assertive way without defaulting to aggression. Alternately, there are also instances when an addict’s family members might be addicts themselves, which is another important issue to be addressed in family therapy as it would likely have had a major effect on the addict or even impede his or her recovery.