“The effects of a substance use disorder (SUD) are felt by the whole family,” wrote Lander, Howsare, and Byrne in their 2013 study on the impact of addiction on families. “Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances… Thus, treating only the individual with the active disease of addiction is limited in effectiveness.”
Effective addiction treatment needs to assess how the SUD has affected emotional and behavioral patterns in the family and facilitate the restoration of healthy relationships among family members. This is usually not easy as addiction tends to create havoc in the family dynamic.
“Substance abuse and addiction can lead to behaviors that are not helpful to relationships, such as increased self-focus or selfishness, avoidance, persistent irritability, or withdrawal,” wrote psychologist Kelly E. Green in her 2021 book Relationships in Recovery. “The changes can damage the sense of closeness in relationships.”
Understanding the challenges presented by addiction and recovery is an important first step. Take the time to ask questions of the treatment provider to understand more about your child’s mental health condition and the treatment approach they are receiving.
A great way to get involved in the recovery of your teen is to participate actively in family therapy sessions. At Avanti Behavioral Health, we believe that recovery from addiction is a process that should definitely involve the immediate family. We have developed an effective and highly involved method of family counseling, focusing on multiple factors involving the existing family dynamic by examining the family unit and understanding the role of each individual family member.
Family therapy provides an opportunity to strengthen communication, address family dynamics, and develop healthy strategies to support your child’s recovery. Teenagers need parental and family support as much as they did when they were younger—especially in recovery.
During active addiction and substance misuse, the family may have established problematic communication patterns that can be hard to break. “One of the most common ones is lack of communication,” wrote Dr. Green. It’s important for parents to reverse this situation and establish open and honest communication with their child and the treatment team.
Regularly discuss your child’s progress, ask questions, and seek clarification on any concerns you may have. Effective communication ensures that everyone is working toward the same goals and promotes a collaborative approach to your child’s care.
Acknowledging your child’s progress will also help improve relationships. Celebrate milestones, no matter how small. Recognize your teen’s efforts and accomplishments to boost their self-esteem and motivation.
Finally, don’t neglect your own well-being. Reach out to support groups, counseling services, or other parents who are going through similar experiences. Connecting with others who understand can provide validation, guidance, and a sense of community. Trust your instincts as a parent and work closely with the treatment team to tailor the support to your child’s specific needs.
Together, we can navigate this journey and provide the best possible care for your child’s mental health and recovery from addiction. For more information about our intensive outpatient program and family programming call us at (720) 753-4030.