“Addiction is a family disease that stresses the family to the breaking point, impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health, finances, and overall family dynamics.” — National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
A person in active addiction is not only harming himself by using drugs and alcohol. Invariably, there is destructive stress for the entire family. If the person of concern is a teenager or young adult, their parents and siblings will be severely affected. Feelings of guilt and shame on all sides undermine the family dynamic and dysfunction typically ensues.
The whole family needs to heal—not just the identified patient. That is why Three Strands regards families as much as clients as the young men entering treatment. Each family is offered a weekly session, which can be done over the phone, with the primary therapist of their loved one.
Family members can play an important role in the healing process and are included in the family-specific, individualized recovery curriculum. Families are also invited to in the family program at the Three Strands Ranch, where they can learn more about positive, healthy recovery strategies and engage in intensive family therapy.
When families are engaged in the recovery of their loved ones, positive outcomes are more likely. It is important that parents and siblings gain a basic understanding of the disease of addiction and about particular “rules of relationships” to avoid the common pitfalls of allowing compassion to morph into enabling or codependent behavior.
Codependency refers to an unhealthy relationship that people may have with those close to them. It typically occurs when individuals who are not themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol are controlled by the addicted person’s behavior. Codependency is a kind of addiction around a relationship.
Being compassionate and wanting to help someone that you love are quite normal intentions. But sometimes parents go to extremes to protect their addicted children from the negative consequences of their addiction and inadvertently engage in enabling behaviors. At that point, they are really promoting sickness, both in themselves and the addicted person.
Three Strands families engaged in the recovery of their children will learn to support their efforts in maintaining sobriety by setting clear boundaries and expecting honest accountability. By addressing their own issues arising from the addiction of their son or brother, family members will be in a stronger position to support the sustained recovery of their loved one.