Family support is essential to the success of clients of Therápia. The disease of addiction affects all members of the family. As a result, it is vitally important to have all relevant family members involved in their own process of individual recovery.

Family therapy is a key part of the recovery process. We provide the families of addicts in our residential client program with a 2-day drug addiction family support workshop as well as weekly meetings where they can learn about codependency and the disease of addiction and begin to understand what their loved one is going through. The family workshop educates families on codependency, addiction, shame-based belief systems, defense mechanisms, and family systems. We also encourage family members to become involved in Al-Anon and begin their own process of recovery.

A person struggling with addiction is said to suffer from the disease of addiction whereas their family suffers from the disease of codependency. Codependency is the other side of the coin of chemical dependency. Historically, the concept of codependency “comes directly out of Alcoholics Anonymous – part of a dawning realization that the problem was not solely the addict, but also the family and friends who constitute a network for the alcoholic/addict.”

Codependency has been defined as:

“. . .ill health, or maladaptive or problematic behavior that is associated with living, working with, or otherwise being associated with alcoholism (or chemical dependency).  It is manifested by a spectrum of symptoms, signs, and problems that span from no symptoms at all, to headaches, to suicide.” – Charles Whitfield, M.D.
“An addiction to a person and that person’s problem.  An addiction to a relationship and the problems the relationship brings. It is a pattern of learned behaviors, learned feelings, and learned beliefs that make life painful.  It is a dependency on people and things outside of self to the point of self-neglect.” – Rochelle Lerner
When a family member gets sick or changes their behavior, the whole family reacts to this stress.  Family members will adapt themselves to this stress in an effort to cope and function. For a family with a chemically dependent member, each member in the family may attempt to cope in different ways.  After a time, feelings of closeness and intimacy get suppressed, and the family becomes more and more dysfunctional.  Just as the chemically dependent person becomes preoccupied and obsessed with their chemicals, family members become preoccupied and obsessed with surviving and coping with that person’s problem.

The family may adopt dysfunctional rules and patterns that restrict healthy relationships and create a culture of avoiding problems. Though these rules may be adopted subconsciously, they govern the family’s interactions and make it difficult to connect with each other in healthy and helpful ways. Robert Subby, M.A., and John Friel, Ph.D., compiled some common dysfunctional rules that develop in codependent families, including:

  • It’s not okay to talk about problems.
  • Feelings should not be expressed openly.
  • Communication is best if indirect, with one person acting as a messenger between two others.   (triangulation)
  • Unrealistic expectations – be strong, good, right, perfect.
  • Don’t be “selfish.”
  • Do as I say, not as I do.
  • It’s not okay to play or be playful.
  • Don’t rock the boat.

At Therápia, a Utah rehab, we offer education, therapy, and suggestions for ways in which to treat these issues with family addiction support.

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Families can be healed.