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Family Therapy
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Addiction is a chronic disease that doesn’t just hurt the addict. It impacts families as a whole and can leave permanent damage if not dealt with properly. In fact, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that an estimated 37 percent of children live in a household with illicit drug use or heavy drinking. Having an active addict in the household can significantly increase a child’s risk of develop their own substance use disorder and other complications. Family therapy in Arkansas is designed to help families heal from the effects of addiction.


What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a type of counseling that focuses on helping families heal and recover from addiction. Unlike individual counseling, family therapy takes the welfare and health of the entire family unit into account. During it, therapists often emphasize healthy communication and attempt to help all members develop more in this area. Once all family members learn how to talk to one another effectively and peacefully, they can work on eliminating problems caused by lack of communication.

Another focus area in family therapy is healing from emotional wounds caused by addiction. Therapists do not put all of the blame on the addict. Instead, they address each member’s role and work with them to overcome these obstacles.


What Are the Roles of Family Members in Addiction?

Psychologists have identified several roles that tend to occur in families affected by addiction. The following are the most common:

The Enabler: The enabler is an individual who allows the addiction to continue consciously or subconsciously. This person is usually the spouse of an addict, but enablers can also be found in parents and children. They tend to clean up after addicts in all aspects of their lives which prevents them from experiencing consequences for their choices.

The Hero: The hero is a role usually played by children. This individual attempts to distract from the addiction by excelling in school, sports or other areas. Heroes tend to be in denial over the problem.

The Lost Child: The lost child attempts to ignore and avoid the addiction completely. This individual may limit their interaction with the addict or the entire family, avoid arguments and discussions on the issue and may also isolate themselves.

The Mascot: The mascot is usually found in children. This individual uses humor and jokes to maintain peace in their household. Often times, they have high stress levels as they attempt to break the tension among their family members.

The Scapegoat: The scapegoat is one of the most critical roles to overcome because it can lead individuals down a self-destructive path. This person, usually a child of the addict, attempts to distract from the addiction by developing his or her own problems. Poor behavior, bad grades and abusing drugs or alcohol are commonly seen in this role.

How Does Addiction Hurt the Family as a Whole?

Many addicts are in denial over the damage their addiction inflicts on their loved ones. Besides creating emotional barriers and lowering trust in the household, addiction can also influence family member’s mental health. It can also increase the risk that loved ones will self-medicate with substances. This is why it is critical for families to approach recovery as a whole instead of pinpointing the addict.

Families affected by addiction in Arkansas have many resources available to them. Family therapy is a leading treatment option that can help promote healthy communication, trust and respect among family members. Don’t hesitate to take action; get started today!