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If Addiction is a Family Disease, We Need to Treat the Family Too

If Addiction is a Family Disease, We Need to Treat the Family Too

June 8, 2015
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One of the most important pieces of an addiction treatment approach or paradigm is one that is most often forgotten about or looked at as more of an afterthought: The family.

Sure, most drug treatment programs (especially inpatient rehabs or residential treatment centers) have some sort of family program in place. Many have a weekend family program where the family of the patient come to campus for either some sort of treatment or a weekend of educational seminars. Most residential treatment centers and some aftercare programs have a family therapist on staff. That being said, many programs do not focus enough on the family, the family dynamics, and family of origin issues to truly offer enough services to treat both addict and family. Why?

For some facilities, they simply do not have the staff to do so. Some facilities do not because it is not a “billable expense” through health insurance and so offering such programs comes with no reimbursement for the rehab. Some programs simply see this as a secondary issue to treating the addict or alcoholic, aka the “identified patient”. However, no matter what the excuses, they are not valid.

Addiction as a Family Disease

For years, treatment providers, people in addiction recovery and medical and mental health professionals have called addiction “a disease.” Additionally, the follow up most of us have heard is that “not only is addiction a disease, but it’s a FAMILY disease.” If this is the case, and it IS a family disease, then why aren’t most treatment facilities also treating the family? If addiction is a family disease, then shouldn’t the whole family system be getting treatment?

Rehab or addiction treatment is not a place where parents or spouses can drop off their loved one at the door, say to the facility “fix them” and then go on about their business waiting for the patient to come home, cured. Here at MARC we often say if a family has a drug addicted member living with them at home or emotionally part of their everyday lives, than that family is going to have major issues. No matter how healthy a family unit is, an addict or alcoholic will overwhelm that system and make it unhealthy and sick. That being said, if an addict or alcoholic goes to get treatment, starts to get better and then returns to a sick family system that has received no treatment, than typically that sick family system will overwhelm the treatment that has taken place and the addict will not get better and recover.

Recovery from addiction is something that both the addict/alcoholic AND the family need for any family that deals with addiction or alcoholism. Any quality treatment center needs to offer robust services that treats both identified patient AND the family. If addiction and alcoholism are family diseases, don’t treatment providers needs to do all they can to treat the family? We certainly think so.

If you or someone you know is in need of an intervention or help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the Baltimore City, Baltimore County and entire Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at info@marylandaddictionrecovery.com. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at www.marylandaddictionrecovery.com.