What Does Treating the Family Entail?
A common problem that many drug and alcohol addicts experience is related to interpersonal relationships. The relationships we have with our family and friends can influence substance abuse overall. One goal of substance abuse treatment is improving the quality of relationships that we have with others. We need to learn how to problem solve with ourselves and with the individual who is an addict. Sometimes the interactions between family members cause the substance abuse and other times it is simply the addiction that stands in the way of healthy relationships with friends and family.
Treating the family involves recognizing and changing the patterns of behavior that influence substance abuse. There are many types of family treatments used in substance abuse recovery; however, the emphasis is the same—changing how the family interacts with themselves and the substance abuser.
There are many widely used treatments in treating the family including Behavioral Family Therapy (BFT), Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA), and Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT).
Behavioral Family Therapy (BFT)
BFT is based on the idea that behavior has consequences. Change can occur through rewarding positive behaviors. Parents who engage in BFT can learn to reward positive behaviors and ignore negative behaviors to influence change.
Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA)
CRA involves an intervention that includes spouses, other family members, and others in the social network of the addict. The idea is to change the reinforcements that support the drug or alcohol behaviors. Triggers are reviewed during sessions and family members and others are trained to remove positive reinforcements when drug or drinking behavior occurs.
Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)
BCT is also used to help the couple increase positive communication and behavior. Skill building is used for problem solving through homework assignments and contracts. Relapse prevention is also reviewed so the non-abusing person can understand the triggers and warning signs of potential relapse.
There are other family therapy interventions that are used in treating alcohol or drug abuse. These include Functional Family, Multi Systemic Family Therapy, Structural Family Therapy, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Multidimensional Family Therapy, and the Matrix model. Each of these types of family interventions are helpful in treating substance abuse. The goal of each of these treatment methods involves primarily the same thing–working together as a family to support the recovering substance abuse throughout recovery.