Your Substance Use Disorder Is Not Yours Alone

When you are struggling with a substance use disorder, it can often seem as though you are all alone. The symptoms of drug or alcohol abuse can become all-consuming—and so can the symptoms of withdrawal. There is a good chance that your focus will turn almost entirely inward as you worry about taking more drugs, worry about not taking more drugs, and worry about how various areas of your life—school, work, simple day-to-day existence—seem to be crumbling beneath you.

But while your substance use disorder might seem to be all about you, it has an impact on many others as well. And those who are likely most affected by the situation are the members of your immediate family.

Each member of your family may react differently to your situation. Maybe one person tries to ignore your situation entirely. Or maybe someone else thinks they can be most helpful by kindly suggesting or nagging incessantly or angrily demanding that you get help for your problem. Maybe a third member of the family is enabling your behavior in one way or another as they attempt to be sympathetic and kind. All of these individuals are likely suffering in their own ways and wishing the whole situation could be resolved happily and quickly.

But the reality is that there is work to be done—both by the individual with the substance use disorder and by those who love them. One place this work can be done is in family therapy.

What to Expect From Family Therapy for Your Substance Use Disorder

Family therapy, a process guided by a trained therapist that includes some (or ideally all) members of a family, provides a space for everyone to work toward a shared understanding of the situation. From that shared understanding, the family can develop a shared set of goals that allows each member of the family to support the person with the substance use disorder in positive ways—while also strengthening their own overall well-being. At the same time, goals for the person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol are also established as they seek to rebuild and strengthen damaged relationships.

Participating in family therapy (which, in addition to helping a family deal with a substance use disorder, can be useful in a number of different situations) can be challenging at first because difficult conversations are likely to be central to the process. But tackling those challenges can lead to some extremely positive outcomes. These may include:

  • Strengthening communication and problem-solving skills so that the family unit is better able to work together to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Discovering each family member’s strengths and weaknesses—and how the family can come together to take advantage of the former and support the latter.
  • Identifying problematic behaviors or responses to issues and replacing them with better, more effective approaches for encouraging positive change.
  • Setting group and individual goals that can help each individual grow—which in turn helps the whole family grow together.

The process of talking through issues, admitting to mistakes, and working toward better connections among family members can be difficult—but the rewards can be great. For the person struggling with drugs or alcohol, family therapy can create a firm foundation for long-term sobriety as the recovery journey gets underway. Ongoing support from one’s family (and from one’s friends) can be a key to maintaining hard-won sobriety over time.

We Are Here for the Whole Family

While a substance use disorder can make a person feel isolated, drug or alcohol misuse wreaks havoc across an entire family. At The Aviary Recovery Center, we are committed to helping families strengthen their bonds and their ability to support one another via our Family Wellness Program. The program—led by a mental health and addiction professional—is free, and participation can make a big difference in the long-term outcomes for the family member working to overcome a substance use disorder.

Of course, the first step for someone struggling with drugs or alcohol is getting the help they need to regain their sobriety. The Aviary Recovery Center offers medically supervised detoxification and a strong rehabilitation program grounded in both individual and group therapy. We provide the support, resources, and strategies a newly sober individual needs as their recovery begins. And, through our Family Wellness Program, we offer those things to entire families as well.

Are you or a loved one searching for St. Louis IOP addiction help? For more information about The Aviary Recovery Center, please contact us anytime at
(314) 464-0222. We’re here to help.