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Family Therapy
group taking picture of a heroin addiction recovery center

Family Therapy

Drug and alcohol addiction exacts a high toll on modern American society. Professional treatment is often required to help break the bonds of addiction, from the early stages of intervention and detox through to the later stages of relapse prevention and aftercare support. Family therapy plays an important role in this process, with people much less likely to relapse when they have access to healthy family dynamics and ongoing support. Family therapy is conducted during residential or outpatient treatment regimes, with different programs available across the state of Alaska. Family therapy has proven successful in treating a number of substance use disorders, including alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug addiction. If you or anyone you know is struggling to overcome any kind of substance use disorder, it’s important to contact a professional treatment center as soon as possible.

The Importance of Family Therapy

Family therapy is known by many names, including family counseling, family and couples therapy, and family and marriage therapy among other names. The health of the family unit is central to substance abuse treatment, with each person affected directly by family dynamics and relationships. Unlike other forms of substance abuse treatment, family therapy is concerned with systems of interaction between family members and the effect that these dynamics have on the drug addicted individual. The entire drug treatment process can be divided into three separate stages: detox, rehab, and aftercare. Family therapy is typically conducted during rehab and aftercare, with intensive short-term programs available alongside weekly therapy sessions. Recovering drug  addicts are much less likely to relapse when they have access to family support and guidance, including psychological and practical support. In contrast, patients without a stable support system are much more likely to return to drug or alcohol use, either immediately or in the weeks and months that follow rehab.


The family members who are close to drug addicts are often involved in unhealthy co-dependent relationships. Co-dependency can manifest in many ways, with the partners and parents of drug addicts often providing emotional and financial support in a way that is destructive and unhelpful. Professional family counselors can help people recognize unhealthy family dynamics before they lead to a return of problematic and impulsive behavior patterns. Common symptoms of a co-dependent relationship include unstable or intense relationships, a desire for acceptance and affection, feelings of boredom and loneliness, external referencing, low self-esteem, and dishonesty. While co-dependent relationships can occur to anyone at anytime, they are more likely in close-knit family groups or partner relationships.

What is involved in family therapy?

Family therapy helps people recognize and alter problematic family dynamics before they influence negative behavior patterns. Techniques involved include structural therapy, systematic therapy, narrative therapy, strategic therapy, and transgenerational therapy. Addiction treatment centers in Alaska may focus on specific implementations of family therapy, with aftercare providers also helping people who have left formal rehabilitation. A typical family therapy regime will involve between five and twenty treatment sessions, with the entire system lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Family therapy often begins during residential or outpatient rehab and continues on an aftercare basis. Aftercare support programs refer to all treatments applied after rehabilitation, including 12-step support groups, sober living environments, SMART Recovery, and long-term family therapy. While detox helps people to stop using drugs and rehab addresses the emotional and environmental precedents of addiction, aftercare is also needed to promote long-term recovery.

Make the choice to step away from addiction once and for all. Pick up the phone and contact an addiction specialist now