“Addiction is a family disease”- a quote many have heard but the application is not always fully understood. Too often there is compartmentalization within a family system regarding addiction. This can lead the family member with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) to be viewed as the one who needs to work on themselves, while other family members continue to live the same way. Each family member plays a unique role in terms of how they relate to their loved one with an SUD.
We are living in a time when many families are spending more time together and are around fewer friends and acquaintances than they may have in the past. At the same time, research indicates that individuals are purchasing more alcohol and drinking and using substances at higher rates than prior to the quarantine. While there is concern that people may be increasing their drinking and drug usage, this is also a concern for those who are in recovery. These individuals may be more vulnerable to relapse living in homes with family members who are increasing their own use of drinking and substance usage.
Many individuals in early sobriety feel uncomfortable asking family members not to drink or use substances around them because of beliefs such as “This is my problem and not theirs”, and “I don’t want to impose on my loved ones”. This can send a confusing message, because it could prevent family members from considering the vulnerability of their loved one. Therefore, it can be helpful to have outside family support during this fragile time.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) model provides comprehensive services that include family education sessions as well as family systems therapy. Providing care for the family system can improve the prognosis for the individual in early sobriety and allow family members to get into their own form of recovery from past unhealthy patterns as well.
The IHAT Institute is dedicated to training healthcare professionals in administering an innovative addiction treatment model. This model allows for the in-home treatment team to work with and support family members in addressing their own emotional responses surrounding their loved one’s addiction as well as the impact of their family role. IHAT family system supports may also allow family members to reflect on their own substance usage or the impact that it may be having on their loved one in early sobriety.
By: Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC, AADC