An addiction, whether it is to a substance, such as alcohol, or a behavior, such as gambling, affects the addict's family nearly as much as it affects the addict him- or herself. Family therapy for addiction is one way to help family members, even if the addict cannot or will not accept help. Different types of family therapy for addition include support groups and the family week model, as well as therapies that address specific family issues, like couples therapy.
Family members can attend support group meetings whether or not their loved one is in treatment, and whether or not the person with the addict even recognizes or admits that he or she has a problem. This type of family therapy for addiction helps those close to the addict live in such a way as to make change possible for the person with the problem. It can also help loved ones understand that they can pursue happiness with or without the support of the addict, even if he or she refuses to change.
The family week model is a type of family therapy for addiction that is common when the addicted person is receiving treatment on an inpatient basis, such as at a rehabilitation center. Family members and others close to the addicted person follow a 12-step program similar to that which the addict follows. This can help family members understand the process that their loved one is going through in trying to beat his or her addiction, and also allows them to change their points of view and attitudes centering around the addiction, if necessary.
Other types of family therapy for addiction may be necessary or desired, depending on the specific situation of the addict and his or her addiction. For example, couples therapy may be beneficial for those for whom an addiction is threatening a marriage or other romantic relationship. A child may need therapy if he or she is growing up in a household with an alcoholic, particularly if abuse or neglect is involved. A family therapist may also be employed if an adult child would like to discuss his or her parent's addiction, even if the events happened many years ago. In nearly any case involving addiction, family therapy may help those involved in the addict's life.