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SIMON LEIGH MSc, FDAP Accredited, UKRCP Reg. Addiction Counsellor
 
 

Family Members

Unfortunately addiction is an illness that does not just affect the person who is suffering from the illness but it also affects those people who are closest to them.

Spouses, parents, siblings, friends and colleagues can all suffer from the abusive behaviours and destructive consequences of their loved one's addiction. Usually, addicts are totally unaware of the chaos and devastation that they are causing and very often it is the loved ones who try to rescue them from themselves.

Family therapy is a major component in the recovery process. Not only does it provide the family members with the support that they require to maintain their own sanity, but it provides them with the tools to detach from the addict's manipulation and deceit. It teaches people how to really help their loved one in a way that is both productive and safe. Furthermore, and most importantly, it allows addicts to take responsibility for their illness and therefore their own recovery.

Family therapy can take place whether the addict is in recovery or not. Sessions can be on a one to one basis or, where appropriate, with the addict's involvement.

The most important thing a family member has to be aware of is not to enable the addict whilst they are in active addiction and to try not to run their recovery for them when they stop using their addictive substance or behaviour. Finding this balance takes skill and time but many families can regain the trust, love and respect of their loved ones with the help of a trained addition counsellor.