Addiction is a disease that has an adverse impact not only on the individual engaging in substance abuse but also on the individual’s family. It is imperative to involve the family in the treatment process to enhance the effectiveness of the counseling process.
Family support is conducive to the client’s recovery journey. The focus should be on the client’s present concerns. If too much emphasis is put on the past and the family’s reactions regarding the same, it can shift the perspective of both the client and their family and negatively affect the course of treatment.
Family assessment is an important process in addiction treatment. It involves the identification of the present concern and the reason why the family came for treatment at that specific moment in time. Formulation of the family’s areas of concerns and discussion of their expectations from treatment are also a part of this process.
The family’s response to the client’s concerns also has a big role to play in the client’s path to recovery. One of the ways to address this is by identifying the expressed emotion of the family. Expressed emotion is a measure of the family environment, which shows how the client’s family talks about the client. It involves 3 elements:
i) Hostility- It is the negative attitude of the family members towards the client in which they blame the client for the problem. They believe that the client has control over the problem and is choosing to not get better. Any problems in the family are attributed to the client’s disorder.
ii) Emotional over-involvement- It involves the family being overly involved in the client’s life, which affects the client’s ability of self-reliance. Too much involvement can cause feelings of frustration in the client toward the family members.
iii) Critical comments- It involves negative criticism from the family, which can cause issues for the client in the future and could also have an effect on the client’s present situation.
Some of the ways in which the family can support the client in practicing abstinence are by engaging in active listening, using healthy communication patterns, and by ensuring that every member has the space and autonomy to express their concerns in a healthy manner.
Psychoeducation of the family, as well as address of the family’s problem areas, ensures that the family has a clear understanding of addiction and its short-term and long-term effects on the client’s life. Greater awareness of addiction and how it affects the whole family would help them to support the client in a more informed manner, which would be beneficial for the client in their journey towards recovery.