Frequently, there are a lot of misconceptions among family members about the disease of addiction. Occasionally, the first challenge is that family members don’t buy into the disease concept, preferring to think of addiction as a character flaw. Or they view addiction as a condition that affects primarily the addicted patient. From that point of view, the addicts are the ones who used drugs or alcohol, so they should be the only ones receiving treatment.
Family therapy needs to address this and other misconceptions about addiction to enable family members to support a sustained recovery of their loved one. Family members and patients often also underestimate the difficulty of recovery. They might unrealistically expect all previous problems to disappear with sobriety and are unprepared for the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.
Educational workshops that focus on the behavioral, medical and psychological effects of substance use disorders and co-occurring conditions can help family members understand what their loved ones are experiencing. Information about the different aspects and goals of treatment helps parents, spouses and other family members understand what the patient needs to commit to in order to be successful in recovery.
This allows family members to provide effective support rather than inadvertently enabling a return to active addiction. Being compassionate and wanting to trust someone that you love are all normal attitudes. But when people engage in enabling behaviors, they are actually promoting sickness, both in themselves and the addicted person.