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Substance Abuse Counseling for Families in the United States

Families across America are all different, such as the traditional nuclear family, stepfamilies, single-parent families, foster families, and multigenerational families. Because of how diverse families are throughout the United States, when a member of the family abuses drugs and alcohol, it will disrupt and affect the family structure. Most drug and alcohol treatment programs and services throughout the United States will offer or incorporate some type of family counseling or therapy. When addressing the issues of substance abuse, it will be important to look at the family structure, as this can help determine how the addicted person will succeed in treatment and when they return home. Family therapy or family counseling can help strengthen the family system and examine the relationships within it, along with family interactions. The goal of family therapy or counseling is to help the family recognize unhealthy patterns of interacting, understand how one’s behavior impacts others, how to set and manage boundaries and how to communicate more effectively. This type of therapy process is often done in conjunction with the treatment of the person who is addicted. It may also happen where there will be a session where everyone is involved, all the family and the addict.

Alcoholism and substance abuse impact families in many devastating ways and the prolonged use of these drugs will break down the family structure. Typically, every single person within the family will be affected by drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction can impact a family’s finances, physical health, and psychological well-being of everyone involved. Because of how diverse the family the structure is today in the United States, addiction affects each member differently. When an addict is going through an addiction, their individual situation will be different from the next, and the family’s situation will also be unique. There is no universal cause for substance abuse within a family, but the issues can be broken down during therapy to address the problems. The most common problem within the family dynamic when someone is battling addiction is enabling. The person who enables takes care of all the things the addict has left undone. For example, this could be taking care of their finances, making excuses for their social and business situations, or bailing them out of legal trouble. Enabling is one of the first things that will be addressed during therapy because it can be the most destructive.

When a parent or even both parents struggle with an addiction, it will be the children who will suffer, and the effects of living with an addicted parent can be felt long after childhood. Drug or alcohol abuse among parents can cause their children to have a poor self-image, loneliness, guilt, anxiety, fear of abandonment and chronic depression. It has been said that one in five adult Americans had lived with an alcoholic relative/family member during childhood. Spousal substance abuse within the family dynamic is also destructive, and when one spouse is abusing drugs, the other will feel the immediate effects. Fortunately, all of this can be addressed during family counseling or therapy, and when an addict is attending a drug rehab program, the rest of the family can focus time on treating their underlying problems because of the addiction. The family therapy process should address specific issues that are affecting the health and functioning of the family. Family counseling is effective to help a family through an addiction, such as a loved one who is addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Each type of family therapy or counseling will utilize different techniques and exercises, such as cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, or a form of individual or group therapy. The type of techniques used will, of course, depend on the family’s individual situation and what is happening. Drug and alcohol abuse is a common reason for many families to seek out counseling, and this is done when the addict is going through treatment. However, many families will also go through counseling while an addict is still using as a healthy measure to cope or find a solution to help the addict. There are also many different types of family counselors, and there will be some who work specifically with families and addiction. This would be the ideal option when drug and alcohol abuse is involved, and numerous services will be available all throughout the United States.


marcel gemme author

Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.