Family Therapy

What is Family Therapy for Addiction?

Family therapy for addiction is talk therapy with an addict and one or more of his or her family members. One goal of family therapy for addiction is to give support to the person suffering from addiction. Another goal of family therapy for addiction is to educate the family members of the person suffering from addiction.

Family therapy helps to equip families with the life tools that they need to improve their emotional well-being. This type of therapy also aims to help struggling individuals’ family members to identify, understand, and change the enabling behaviors that they have. 

How Families Enable Addictive Behaviors

To enable someone is to make it easier for them to behave or live a certain way. When it comes to addiction, many individuals have enabling behaviors, making it easier for their struggling family members to continue living a life of addiction.

Often, people enable their struggling loved ones without even meaning to do so; many enabling behaviors look a lot like love. But, it’s important for people to identify and change enabling behaviors in order to help their stuffing friends or family members.

1. Lying for the Individual

When people are related to addicts, they might feel compelled to lie for their addicted family members. People may do this for their struggling family members for any number of reasons. They may do it so that they can keep their jobs or avoid getting in trouble at school. Or, they may do it to prevent trouble with a parent or guardian, or even with the law. 

While lying for a family member in such situations may seem like the loving thing to do, it is only making it easy for the addict to not have to deal with the consequences of his or her actions. By not dealing with the consequences of his or her actions, the individual will continue using drugs and alcohol

2.  Paying Bills for the Person Struggling with Addiction

Taking away any responsibility, such as paying bills, from a family member that is an addict once again prevents the person from having to deal with the consequences of his or her actions. Thus, the individual will never feel the need to stop using drugs or alcohol. 

3. Purchasing Drugs and/or Alcohol for the Individual

To avoid conflict, some family members of addicts resort to purchasing drugs and/or alcohol on their addicted family members’ behalf. This is the biggest way to enable a family member’s addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. 

Family members of addicts that want their addicted family members to stop using drugs and alcohol must learn to deal with unpleasant behavior from the addicted family members when they cannot get their drugs. Doing so may one day force the addicted family members to detoxify themselves and get used to not using drugs and alcohol.

4. Excusing the Person’s Violent or Manipulative Behavior

Some families excuse the violent and manipulative behaviors that their addicted family members exhibit. This only makes it easier for the individual to continue using drugs and alcohol without any guilt or shame. Without having to feel the weight of their wrongdoing, people may never gain the motivation to end drug and alcohol use. 

Types of Family Therapy Used in Addiction Treatment


Structural counseling for families of drug addicts focuses on adjusting the addiction-promoting dynamics of the families of addicts. When using structural family therapy with the family of an adolescent that is suffering from addiction, the therapist will make it a point to make sure that both the parents and adolescent learn how to set appropriate boundaries for themselves. Doing so will help the parents obtain and maintain parental authority over the adolescent. 

To help parents and adolescents set appropriate boundaries for themselves, the therapist will likely play as if he or she is a part of the family to better observe, learn, and enhance the therapeutic experience. By enhancing the therapeutic experience of family therapy, each family member of the addict will better see their individual shortcomings. This will ultimately make each family member better able to strengthen their relationships with one another.


Strategic counseling for families of drug and alcohol addicts is similar to that of structural family therapy in that they both aim to adjust the dynamics of the family to help each member of the family better communicate and set boundaries with one another. 

One main aspect of strategic family therapy that makes it different from structural family therapy is that the therapist in strategic family therapy will give homework out to the family to help accomplish its goals. Another difference between strategic and structural family therapy is that in strategic family therapy the therapist will take the position of power in his or her sessions to help provide a voice to the family members that do not usually have one.


This type of addiction family therapy strictly focuses on adjusting family dynamics within families that have children and teens in them that are recovering from addiction. Multidimensional family therapy aims to help the child and the parents set appropriate boundaries for themselves within the family.

In multidimensional therapy, therapists will also counsel parents on how to communicate with their children in a way that will help them maintain their power while also being effective. 

Multidimensional family therapy also makes it a priority to teach young addicts within families how to build strong and stable identities for themselves. Having young addicts build strong and stable identities for themselves is important because many young people start using drugs and alcohol because they are still searching for their sense of individuality and identity.

Therefore, having children and teens establish a sense of identity without the use of drugs and alcohol while in therapy will improve the chance that they stay sober after therapy is complete.


Behavioral addiction family therapy utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. These techniques work to help families to identify and change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that they exhibit that contribute to addictive behavior.

Some therapists make each family member sign a contract to having a substance-free home. This helps to keep families accountable during behavioral addiction family therapy

Behavioral family therapy can occur within a family with children or a family consisting of just a married couple. Whenever behavioral addiction family therapy occurs within a family made of just a married couple, it is called behavioral marital therapy. 


Bowenian addiction family therapy is for addicts that do not want to involve their family members in their treatment. This type of family addiction family therapy works for these types of addicts because it acknowledges that human relationships are based on the level of balance an individual has between their own individuality and their need for companionship. 

Therefore, addicts that do not want to involve their family members in their therapy can learn what it is about them and the things that they learned from their family that led them to have such a strong need for independence and individuality. By later incorporating these addicts’ family members into their therapy sessions, they will then learn how to better balance their needs for individuality and togetherness. 


Systemic counseling for families of drug addicts focuses on uncovering the unconscious meanings behind the behaviors of each family member of an addict as they and the addict communicate with one another. This form of therapy allows the therapist to take a back seat in the therapy sessions so that the family can dive deep into communicating and discovering what their issues are with one another. 

Benefits of Utilizing Family Therapy When Dealing With Addiction

There are many benefits when it comes to family therapy for addiction. This type of therapy offers continued love, engagement, and motivation for the people in treatment. It also facilitates learning and understanding about addiction, how it works, and its treatments. Family therapy helps people to feel free to express their feelings and concerns about the individual’s addiction.

Family therapy provides additional support after treatment. It can help ease and take away past feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, stress, and confusion within those suffering from addiction. It can help ease any anger or resentment family members of the addicts may have had with the addicts.

Family members of an addict can develop skills and strategies to help their addicted loved ones stay sober. Therapy helps to improve overall communication within the family. Also, it offers the opportunity to address any mental health issues that the addict has with his or her family. It allows both addicts and family members of addicts to express their frustrations and concerns to a nonjudgmental and unbiased therapist. 

Finally, family therapy can help treat co-existing mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, etc. in the person suffering from addiction. It helps set clear treatment goals and improves overall personal and family wellness.

 We’ve Got Your Family Covered

Daylight Recovery Services provides family therapy for addiction within many of our treatment programs. Our treatment programs include residential treatment, detoxification, holistic treatment, telehealth treatment, and more. With treatment services for people suffering from addiction to everything from alcohol, to heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, and more, you and your family can find the help that you need. 

To learn more about the family services that we offer here at Daylight Recovery, feel free to contact us over the phone or by email.