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Family Therapy Program for Addiction in Illinois

Family Therapy Program for Addiction in Illinois

Addiction has long been called a family disease. This is because it usually has drastic effects on everyone close to the individual, including parents, siblings, children, and spouses. If you are seeking treatment, it’s important for your family to be involved in your recovery. Your family members need to heal with you and understand how to support you going forward on your journey. 

A family therapy program at Gateway Foundation offers the quality treatment and care you and your loved ones need to get back on track. Family therapy for drug addiction or substance use can help you achieve your goals while repairing the relationships with those you love most. 

The Impacts of Addiction On Families

Addiction has consequences for everyone around the person struggling with it. Whether it’s you, your parent, your child, or your sibling, seeing a loved one experience the difficulties of addiction can change your entire family dynamics. Though every family is different, most likely experience some of the following issues when a member suffers from alcohol addiction or substance use disorders:

The Impacts of Addiction On Families

  • Financial obstacles: Many people addicted to substances will fuel their addiction by any means necessary. This may make it difficult for them to pay bills or keep a job, leading to them asking family members for money for essentials like food and gas. Some family members may also have to pay to get their loved one out of legal trouble. 
  • Relationship dynamics: Because the individual with addiction can no longer manage their own responsibilities within the family, other members may have to take on more responsibility. The person with the addiction may isolate themselves from the family, causing concern, resentment, and guilt. 
  • Abandoning responsibilities: When a family member with an addiction engages in reckless or irresponsible behavior, other family members often feel the need to shuffle their life priorities in order to be present for that individual. This might include calling off work, postponing vacations, or rescheduling important life events to help their family member with the addiction. 
  • Poor communication: Families may find it more difficult to openly discuss their concerns, wants, and needs in a positive way when a member struggles with addiction. This may result in more arguments or certain members overlooking the needs of others to care for the person with addiction. 
  • Lack of boundaries: In family dynamics where addiction exists, it becomes more and more challenging to set boundaries. The family member struggling with addiction may begin to cross lines out of desperation or intoxication. 
  • Denial: It’s common for family members of a person struggling with addiction to avoid the issue altogether, often changing the subject or pretending the problem doesn’t exist. Some family members may truly not see the extent of their loved one’s addiction or not want to face it at all. 
  • Increased risk of addiction: Living with or around a person who is addicted to substances can be extremely stressful and overwhelming, which can sometimes result in another family member picking up the same habits. For instance, a child who watches a parent struggle with addiction may be more likely to develop the same addiction to cope. 

Individual family members are also encouraged to participate in their own therapy and in marriage and family therapy.

The Six Dysfunctional Family Roles in Addiction

Addiction can create dysfunctional family roles as each person tries to cope with the reality of the situation. In some families, each person plays a specific role to keep the family system running. In others, family members may adopt several roles at once. Some families may have multiple of each roles or may not have certain roles at all. 

The Six Dysfunctional Family Roles in Addiction

Here are the unhealthy roles family members may unintentionally take on when dealing with a loved one in active addiction:

1. The Person With the Addiction

The person with the substance use problem will often be the focal point in the family. They may directly or indirectly cause conflict in the home due to their actions or words. It’s common for people with addiction to behave regardless of how it affects their family members, whether they realize it or not. 

In some cases, the individual struggling with addiction may even present a victimized attitude. They may take on the role of manipulating, making excuses, or lying to their family to maintain their addiction. Alternatively, others who struggle with addiction may feel extremely ashamed and guilty, causing them to lash out at their family in denial or blame them for their addiction.

2. The Caretaker

Also known as the enabler, this role refers to the person in the family who appears to be responsible for and protective of the person with addiction. This role is sometimes called “the enabler” because they often make excuses for their loved ones and may even take on extra responsibilities to keep the peace in the family. Though they’re trying their best to help, they unintentionally enable the individual’s addiction and behavior. This person will often sacrifice their well-being to make sure everyone in the family is happy. 

3. The Hero

Similar to the caretaker, the hero of the family strives to do everything in their power to keep the family together but won’t enable the family member with the addiction. They usually appear “perfect” to outsiders, being both responsible and self-sufficient even though they may suffer in silence. For example, an older sibling might feel responsible for keeping up appearances about the family dynamic when someone raises concerns or questions about their younger sibling’s addiction. 

4. The Scapegoat 

On the other side of the spectrum is the scapegoat, also known as the “problem child.” This family member will often cope with their loved one’s addiction by displaying defiant, harmful behaviors in the home, at school, or at work. Often, this is seen as a tactic to draw attention toward themselves. This person may also be very angry or hostile toward their family, adding to the chaos of the home. The scapegoat may be likely to get into trouble with the law or follow the destructive path of addiction as well. 

5. The Mascot

Serious, intense topics like addiction can be so difficult for families to handle, which is where the mascot comes in. This person will take on the job of providing comedic relief to the family as a way to make other family members feel better about the situation. They may often try to make light of the situation by acting silly or making jokes to alleviate stress on others. However, this exhausting role is usually a coping mechanism that lets the family member avoid facing the reality of their loved one’s addiction and its effects on the family. 

6. The Lost Child 

Finally, the lost child is the family member who is often quiet and alone. This is usually a younger sibling who feels helpless to resolve anything compared to their older siblings. The lost child tends to isolate themselves from the family chaos and blend into the background as they watch the conflict unfold. This person may also struggle with social interactions or engaging in healthy relationships as they learn to cope by avoiding physical and emotional attachments within their family.

The Importance of Marriage and Family Therapy In Addiction Treatment

The Importance of Marriage and Family Therapy In Addiction Treatment

Families function differently and in multiple different ways. Some may find healthy ways of coping, while others might venture into unhealthy or toxic patterns. Regardless, the family unit relies on pursuing common goals and supporting each individual in their own pursuits.

When one member of a family experiences changes, it can impact the whole unit. Addiction can introduce significant change and uncertainty into a family, often breaking that unit down and harming individuals in the process. 

But through effort and making positive changes, individuals in your family — as well as the unit as a whole — can start to heal and reunite. Through a family therapy program, you can learn to work together to tackle conflict and promote healthier family dynamics. 

Family therapy for addiction can help you rebuild and strengthen your family’s unique bond. Sessions can help you understand how healthy families function and the benefits of implementing those positive changes in your own lives. Your group will learn more about addiction, including how to dismantle unhealthy behaviors and patterns related to substance misuse and how to promote individual growth throughout the healing process.

Family therapy for addiction also helps each member of the family better understand any co-occurring disorders or mental health struggles you might face. They can learn the best methods for supporting you and your sobriety while also gaining skills for healing their own struggles during the substance-related crisis. Your family can walk out of rehab treatment a happier and healthier unit as you prepare to work together to reach new goals. 

Having your family be present during your treatment can lead to many other benefits that you may not even realize you need, including:

  • Learning and setting boundaries: Boundaries are critical in all families, especially when addiction is involved. Some family members may struggle to set and clarify boundaries with their loved ones, such as detaching themselves from the individual with active addiction.
  • Sharing feelings: Sharing difficult emotions can help rebuild bridges that were burned within the family as a result of addiction. Talking through these problems can be transformational for families as they learn the value of expressing their honest feelings and thoughts, such as having fear that their loved one may relapse after treatment. 
  • Understanding addiction: It’s normal for people who have never experienced addiction to have a misconstrued idea of what it is and how it truly affects the individual. Family therapy aims to educate everyone in the family about the nature of addiction and how it impacts their loved one’s behavior, helping them understand on a deeper level. 
  • Regaining trust: People who suffer from addiction may have a track record of dishonesty surrounding their substance use. This often leads family members to feel betrayed and guarded against that individual. Family therapy can help mend this distrust by promoting honest interactions. 
  • Improving communication: Healthy communication is essential in all relationships. Group therapy can help all members learn how to express their concerns, thoughts, and feelings with each other, even on a difficult topic. 

Types of Therapies Used In Family Therapy 

Family therapy can vary based on the individual’s specific needs and the type of addiction they struggle with. There are many types and structures of family therapy that can help everyone achieve their goals. The therapist will determine a unique approach to suit your family’s needs, including using multiple types of therapy at once. Here are three common types of family therapy you can expect in addiction recovery.

1. Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-Focused Therapy

This family therapy approach helps family members find solutions by generating their own treatment goals for their loved ones struggling with addiction. This encourages the family to be more active in their loved one’s recovery. Therapists who implement solution-focused therapy may help family members identify reasonable solutions to empower everyone to feel motivated and optimistic about behavioral change. 

A common goal in solution-focused therapy is for the family to determine what their home and family would look like without their loved one’s addiction present. Then, the therapist will help the family create steps to realize that vision while managing the emotional intensity that comes along with negotiating with other family members. The therapist may also encourage the family to identify exceptions and problem sequences to better understand their daily interactions. 

2. Functional Family Therapy 

Functional Family Therapy

This behavioral-based family therapy treatment aims to alter the family’s dysfunctional or negative behaviors — such as substance use, violence, or reckless actions — while building back trust. Therapists may use functional family therapy to improve any negative patterns that help the family member struggling with substances maintain their addiction. In doing so, they can introduce and reinforce positive problem-solving techniques. This type of family therapy uses the following three strategies:

  • Engagement and motivation: In this phase, the therapist engages all family members to cooperate in treatment and reduce negative behavior like blaming. 
  • Behavior change: The second phase of functional family therapy focuses on assessing the family’s relational patterns and risk factors. The therapist helps all the members develop active listening and communication skills as well as consequences. 
  • Generalization: In the final stage, families learn how to generalize what they’ve learned in therapy and how to apply it to new contexts involving their loved one’s addiction. The family plans for the possibility of future challenges.

3. Psychoeducation 

This family-based treatment focuses on helping family members learn more about mental health conditions, self-help approaches, medication, and other treatment options. Psychoeducation prioritizes educating family members on their loved one’s addiction so they can function as a more cohesive support system. 


However, this type of family therapy is more than just providing family members with information. Instead, family therapists use psychoeducation to engage all members in their loved one’s treatment while developing communication skills, problem-solving skills, social support networks, and other community-based services. Psychoeducation helps families:

  • Understand the biopsychosocial effects of addiction
  • Know what to expect from treatment 
  • Learn what the patient’s recovery may look like
  • Understand the value of their support in the patient’s recovery
  • Learn ways to respond to the patient’s addiction 
  • Develop healthy coping strategies and skills 
  • Reduce feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation 

How Family Therapy Works

Just like addiction recovery, family therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, it’s important to know that your therapist will create a solution that meets your or their needs. Though group therapy in addiction recovery is centered around the person with addiction, each family member is vital to the entire process. 

Generally, though, you can expect each session to focus on communication with your family members. At first, the therapist may be focused on making everyone feel comfortable and safe so that they may feel free to talk openly about their loved one’s addiction. 

Conversation and dialogue are the fundamental aspects of family therapy for addiction recovery, but it may take some time before everyone is willing to participate actively. The therapist may then take turns asking each family member about their:

  • Experience
  • Concerns
  • Challenges 
  • Hopes
  • Needs 

How Family Therapy Works

Hearing the feelings of each person can help the individual struggling with addiction understand how their behavior has affected their loved ones. It’s not uncommon for some family members to feel guarded at first until they see the commitment of their family member who struggles with addiction. 

During therapy, one of the main goals is to get the family to work together to make positive changes, but other goals include:

  • Helping everyone understand the impact of their behavior and words
  • Learn how to help their family member with addiction
  • Encourage everyone to listen and talk to each other with respect
  • Suggest strategies for changing or preventing problematic behaviors
  • Helping family members come to terms with their loved one’s addiction and experience 

Once the family initiates the conversation about difficult topics and learns to express their thoughts and feelings, it’s up to them to determine how much they’re willing to continue working toward a solution. The patient’s treatment, rehab center program, or therapist usually determines session frequency and duration. Depending on the patient’s needs, the sessions may last anywhere from one hour to three hours. According to the therapist’s suggestion and the family’s willingness, these sessions may last a few weeks, months, or years. 

The Role of Family In Recovery 

Family plays a critical role in addiction recovery. Whether or not you cohabitate, experiencing a loved one struggling with substance use disorder can cause many painful emotions that are difficult to face. Some family members may even feel hopeless or angry when seeing their loved one in the midst of a drug or alcohol addiction and have no idea how to approach the situation. Others may feel guilty for not being more actively involved in helping their loved one pursue treatment. When it comes to addiction, it’s normal to feel confused, angry, or exhausted about how to deal with your loved one’s struggles. 

Families impacted by substance misuse often develop unhealthy, dysfunctional coping mechanisms. Family therapy can encourage healthier behaviors and reduce problematic patterns, such as blaming, making excuses, or avoiding communication. 

The Role of Family In Recovery

When all family members learn to embody healthier behaviors and roles in the wake of addiction, they may feel better equipped to hold their loved ones accountable for their actions. Likewise, families can learn how to reward that loved one when they make positive choices. The building blocks of addiction recovery are implementing healthy boundaries and working on goals as a family unit. 

Above, we learned that addiction can create some unhealthy roles in the family dynamic, such as the scapegoat or the enabler. With therapy, your family can learn to recognize these negative or hindering behaviors and introduce more positive methods of supporting each other. A key component of helping the individual suffering from addiction is promoting healthy, encouraging interactions at home. 

For example, a parent who may have previously been the “caretaker” or enabler type may learn to remain supportive and encouraging while setting firm boundaries. Learning how to alter enabling behaviors can help individuals hold their family members accountable and motivate the patient to be more thoughtful about their actions.

It’s also important to note that some people who struggle with addiction may have different needs when it comes to their families. For instance, one patient may wish to have some space from their family while focusing on themselves and getting the help they need before attempting to rebuild close relationships. Other patients may want their family closely involved because they flourish from the support of their loved ones. 

How Family Involvement Affects Treatment Outcomes 

Family involvement can help patients suffering from addiction feel supported while going through a difficult situation. Treating addiction as a family obstacle can ensure that the patient does not feel alone on the road to recovery and that there is hope for a healthy future with their loved ones.

However, research also supports the idea that active family involvement in treatment has more positive outcomes for patients in addiction recovery. Family participation can also support long-term recovery for patients. For those struggling with addiction, recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Having family support, improved communication, and healthy boundaries can increase the likelihood of successful abstinence from substances once the patient has completed their program. With the help of therapy, families can implement new dynamics that prevent negative behaviors like enabling and instead encourage the patient to commit to a healthier lifestyle. 

Family and Addiction

Gateway Foundation Drug & Alcohol Treatment

Family & Addiction

Who Benefits from Family Support and Programming? 

Who Benefits from Family Support and Programming?

Family therapy for addiction helps the person suffering from addiction and everyone close to them. Addiction can have different effects on everyone in the family, which is why it’s important for every member to have the opportunity to heal from any hurt caused by the patient’s behavior. Families struggling with a loved one with addiction or substance use can enroll in various treatment programs that address everyone’s needs and concerns. 

The term “family” can include a myriad of loved ones in your life, such as:

  • Siblings
  • Parents
  • Spouses
  • In-laws
  • Children
  • Extended family members
  • Blended family members 
  • Stepfamily
  • Close friends 
  • Other individuals who are significantly close to the patient 

Almost any loved one in a patient’s life may be welcome to join family therapy because it significantly helps with recovery. When a patient feels supported, understood, and loved throughout their marriage and family therapy addiction treatment, it may make it easier for them to feel motivated to stay the course. Additionally, family therapy can establish better relationships going forward after therapy ends. For example, once the patient completes treatment, their future relationships benefit because everyone close to them has addressed their concerns and dealt with the difficult situation as a unit. 

Just as individual therapy enables family members to discuss their feelings and concerns privately, family therapy enables this process on a group level. Each person in the family is welcome to share their thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of what they’ve dealt with regarding their loved one suffering from addiction. Therapists in family therapy provide a safe, secure environment to help everyone feel comfortable voicing their emotions. Everyone benefits from therapy by feeling validated, healing from past issues, and moving forward to better days. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Family Therapy At Gateway Foundation

Family therapy can help your family resolve conflicts while helping you or your loved one overcome addiction. However, if it’s your first time participating in family therapy for addiction recovery, you may not know what to expect. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common questions you might have about this process. 

1. Which Family Members Does Your Family Therapy Program Include? 

At Gateway Foundation, your family includes your close emotional connections that endure over time. Family therapy and addiction treatment therapy involve the people who are committed to your recovery and will support your ongoing success. The definition of family means those participating could include blood relatives, extended family members, friends or anyone emotionally invested in your well-being. 

Which Family Members Does Your Family Therapy Program Include?

2. How Can I Support My Loved One Other Than Family Therapy? 

The most important thing you can do is listen, communicate, and continue to learn more about addiction. Keeping an open mind — while maintaining healthy boundaries — is key to helping your loved one feel supported during their recovery. This is why family therapy focuses on everyone involved, not just the person struggling with addiction. Addiction affects every single person in that individual’s life, meaning those who are closest to them may also require their own support through therapy. 

Just by showing up and participating in therapy, you already commit to your loved one’s recovery. If you wish to support them in other ways, you might try communicating that sentiment during one of your sessions. Your loved ones and therapist can determine the patient’s needs without causing other members to feel burnt out. 

3. What Happens If a Family Member Does Not Want to Participate?

It’s important to note that no family member or loved one is required to attend family therapy if they choose not to. This is a completely voluntary decision. In some cases, one or several family members may not be willing to participate in family therapy for their loved one struggling with addiction. Their reluctance, hesitation, or refusal to engage in therapy may occur for several reasons, such as:

What Happens If a Family Member Does Not Want to Participate?

  • Fear of facing the reality of their family member’s addiction
  • Skepticism that the therapy will make a difference
  • Exhaustion from the patient’s repeated patterns of behavior and addiction

If this occurs, the family member is open to discussing their concerns or questions with the therapist individually. Sometimes, additional encouragement or education about the purpose and benefits of family therapy for addiction recovery can promote participation. Ultimately, though, it is the individual’s choice. 

4. How Do I Get the Most Out of Family Therapy?

Participating in family therapy is not always easy, but it can bring you closer together and provide the healing everyone needs. Going into each session with an open mind and open heart can be challenging, but it may also help you make the most out of your sessions. Your therapist will work with your family dynamic and help you create several common goals to work on as a unit. 

Though the sessions will primarily focus on your loved one’s addiction, it will also give each family member time to discuss what they want to achieve during the sessions. Whether you struggle with addiction yourself or have a loved one going through it, it’s important to think about your goals before each session so everyone understands your needs and expectations. 

Making the most out of family therapy also depends on your relationship with the individual struggling with addiction. Expressing your thoughts and sharing your feelings might not come naturally at first if you’ve felt betrayed by your loved one, but being an active participant is how you will gain the most benefits from therapy. 

All relationships take work. When addiction is involved, there can be a lot of hurt, resentment, and guilt involved. However, coming to your sessions with a positive mindset and focusing on your strengths in the family dynamic can help you re-establish connections and achieve your family goals. 

5. What Can I Expect During Family Therapy?

Addiction can create rifts in relationships that are difficult to mend. Every member of the family may cope with their loved one’s addiction differently and have a unique style of communicating. During your first few sessions of family therapy for addiction recovery, you can expect to experience some intense emotions or even difficulty communicating. 

Some family members may be willing to come to therapy but feel hesitant to speak up about how they feel. Others may feel angry and voice their opinions and thoughts freely. The session entirely depends on your family’s experience and what has occurred within your relationships. 

What Can I Expect During Family Therapy?

However, you can generally expect your therapist to ease you into the session before setting goals or focusing on building new skills. One of the purposes of family therapy is to assess how your family interacts and behaves with each other, acquiring new skills and applying them for healthier communication. Improving your family’s overall environment allows everyone to better support the patient’s recovery while keeping boundaries in place. 

You can also expect to see behavioral changes in your loved one as they work through their addiction recovery program. As they resolve underlying issues and mend damaged relationships, you may see them gradually progress and adopt more positive behaviors. 

6. What Other Types of Treatment Programs Do You Offer That Can Support My Family?

Whether you’re suffering from addiction or know a loved one who is experiencing it, having access to a comprehensive therapy and recovery program is key to supporting your family’s unique needs. At Gateway, we provide an array of therapies within multiple levels of care. You or your loved one will receive the precise level of treatment needed for your best healing and greater chances of long-term recovery.

Some of our programs and therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Sobriety, and Withdrawal Management. At Gateway, you can also choose from inpatient or outpatient programs to get the care you or your loved one needs.

Contact Gateway Foundation for Family Support During Addiction Recovery

Addiction affects the people closest to you. When you decide to enroll in a treatment program for addiction, you support your own recovery while helping build a healthier, happier family unit. At Gateway, we’ve helped generations of families achieve recovery and ongoing fulfillment by supporting you or your loved one on the road to addiction recovery. 

Contact us to learn more about our family therapy programs and get more information about other treatment details. With our help — and the support of your loved ones — you and your family can find healing.

Contact Gateway Foundation for Family Support During Addiction Recovery