Family engagement in a loved one’s substance abuse treatment and recovery process is a vital component of comprehensive addiction treatment. However, this is an often much underserved and underutilized area of addiction treatment. Some addiction treatment centers have no family component to speak of while others have a small family education piece. While family education is a good start, it is really full family programs that include education, counseling and treatment that are necessary when offering a truly comprehensive approach to drug and alcohol treatment.

Why is family engagement in treatment so important? Well, there are a number of reasons.

First, engaging a patient’s family in treatment offers support for their patient in their treatment and in their recovery. Family members become a part of the treatment program, they get a better understanding of addiction and what their loved one is going through, they receive coaching from the therapists and staff on how to best support the treatment plan and support the process of recovery. The family is able to tailor their behaviors in a positive manner that creates a better environment for the patient in treatment and allows for a supportive family structure.

Second, the engagement of the family is key for the addiction treatment provider or the drug rehab treating the patient. A strong clinical relationship with a patient’s family members is needed if the patient is resistant or defiant to treatment. Addicts and alcoholics will justify and rationalize their using and drinking as well as their behaviors and they will focus on the emotional ties with family members to do so and manipulate those relationships in order to continue their dangerous behaviors. A treatment center being able to engage a patient’s family will make that type of manipulation much more difficult for the addict or alcoholic. A strong clinical trust between a treatment center and a patient’s family makes manipulative behaviors of the addict much more difficult and easier to spot, thus making it that much more difficult for the addict to continue the behavior and much more likely they will engage in treatment and a process of recovery.

Third, it is vital to engage a patient’s family during treatment to offer them necessary help for themselves. At Maryland Addiction Recovery Center we truly believe that the patient is the family and the family is the patient. Many families or specific family members do not believe that they need help or treatment themselves. They believe their loved one is the problem or their loved one needs the help. This is partially true, but any family system that has an addict or alcohol as a component is in need of help too. Why is that? Think about it: If you have a heroin addict running around your house for 5 or 10 years, causing harm and damage with their behaviors and their drug use, that family is going to suffer and have problems. Any addict or alcoholic will negatively affect even the healthiest family structure and cause it to get somewhat sick. The emotional strain, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the fear that family members suffer due to dealing with the sick family member is overwhelming. Therefore, the family needs to be treated as well. They need to learn healthy behaviors, healthy boundaries and receive the help they need so that even if their loved one refuses to get better, the family will be on their own path of recovery.

If addiction is a family disease, then the treatment needs to include the family too. The family unit must set off on their own path of recovery. A family cannot simply drop their husband or wife or son or daughter off at the door of a drug rehab and say “fix them”. Treatment doesn’t work that way and the treatment centers that do will not be offering the best possible treatment in order to give their patients the best possible recovery outcomes. Any quality, comprehensive addiction treatment center will engage an addicts family, both for the sake of the addict as well as for the sake of the family. The health and well-being of both depend on the treatment they receive in order for both to enter into a lifelong recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and needs treatment please call us for help. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the area. If we aren’t the best fit, we will work with you to find a treatment center that fits your needs. Please call us at (410) 773-0500 or email For more information on all of our alcohol and addiction treatment services and resources, please visit the web site at

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