There are many different treatment options available to families in the early intervention and recovery stages of dealing with addiction. 

One form of treatment that can be incredibly helpful, especially to parents trying to figure out what they need to do next, is the family genogram. This diagram shows you where your problems came from and how your family tree was affected by them. 

To make the best decisions moving forward, it’s important to know everything you can about your family’s past when it comes to addiction.

What is a Family Genogram?

A family genogram is a diagram that shows the relationships and history of a family. 

It can include information about where and how people were born, who their spouses are or were, how they’re related to each other, and any significant events or life transitions. It’s often used by therapists to help identify patterns of addiction or abuse within families. 

Family genograms are helpful for identifying patterns of addiction or abuse within families. They’re also useful for exploring unresolved grief, helping children understand their family’s past, understanding what role an addicted parent plays in the family, and more. 

A therapist may ask you to fill out a questionnaire before creating your family genogram so that they know more about your situation going into it with you. 

Some questions may include: 

  • What are your memories from childhood? 
  • What did your parents do for work? 
  • What was school like when you attended? 
  • What were some traditions you had growing up in your family? 
  • Did anyone ever mistreat you as a child? 
  • Who was it and how did they mistreat you (e.g., physically, emotionally)?

How Can a Family Genogram Be Used to Help Treat Addiction?

A family genogram is basically a visual representation of an individual’s family tree. It can be used to assess the dynamics and patterns that may exist within families with addiction issues. 

A good example of this would be if you have a father who had addiction problems or was physically abused as a child, he may also have been physically abusive towards his children. 

The genogram can show you where and why abuse may have occurred and may help you understand how it might have been passed on through generations. 

For example, the father has physical and emotional scars from being abused by his own parents which led him to turn around and become abusive as well. 

As a result, the son develops PTSD which then leads him down the same destructive path as his grandfather. Sharing this information with trusted professionals who are looking to help an individual in your family, or the family unit as a whole, will assist them in making informed decisions about the best treatment options.

It should go without saying that when it comes to the physical abuse of a child, on any level, it is a completely insufferable and unbearable action. Especially if the parent doing the abuse was abused themselves, which is often the case. There is no excuse for this type of behavior and there are always alternatives to punishing your child if they misbehave; ones that will not scar your child for the rest of their life.

The Benefits of Using a Family Genogram in Treatment

Many people don’t realize that addiction is often passed down from generation to generation. This is why it’s important for families dealing with addiction issues to understand how their family history impacts their day-to-day life. 

This can be achieved through the use of a family genogram, which outlines all members of the family tree and their relationships to one another.

It can help identify patterns that are carried over from one generation to another, and show how these patterns have manifested themselves differently in each member of the family. 

A genogram can also be used as an educational tool for other members who may not be struggling with addiction themselves but still need help understanding what’s going on with their loved ones. 

For example, if a person has a parent or grandparent who struggled with alcoholism, they might be less likely to abuse alcohol themselves because they know firsthand about the negative consequences. 

The hope is that by showing them this information graphically, they’ll feel more comfortable asking questions about addiction and what steps to take if they think someone close to them might have an issue.

How to Create a Family Genogram

A family genogram is an invaluable tool for therapists as it aids them in understanding how addiction has affected families over time. 

First, you’ll want to identify all of the known individuals in your family tree. Start by drawing circles or squares to represent each person. Next, draw lines connecting those people who are related to one another. 

Write their name at the end of each line – this will indicate who they are related to and share one-way arrows if they are only related through marriage or adoption; two-way arrows if they are related through both parents; and no arrows if they are not related at all. 

If there is more than one relationship between two people, make sure you add those connections too! For example, if someone is married to your mother, you would also draw a connection between them because they share one parent.

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center: Offering Holistic Approaches to Addiction Treatment

A family genogram can be an important tool for therapists looking to break down addiction issues. 

At Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we have highly-trained, experienced counselors ready to help you identify the root cause of your addiction and guide you toward recovery. 

If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic 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 (866) 392-1424 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our website at