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Marriage and Family Therapy for Substance Use Disorders

Relationships are essential for humans to live a normal and healthy life. We are social creatures designed to rely on each other for support, nourishment and strength. When someone develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol, their dependence on substances can sometimes deeply wound their relationships and hurt the people they love. By incorporating marriage and family therapy for drug addicts into substance addiction treatment plans, patients have a higher chance of recovery and maintaining long-term abstinence. 


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Professionally dressed couple in marriage therapy for substance abuse disorders, therapist taking notes

Hotel California by the Sea offers a solution to wounded marriages and fractured family units but incorporating various family support services including marriage and family therapy for drug users. We provide access to certified family therapists specialized in therapy for substance use disorder in Orange County, California. Marriage and family therapy for addicts is often recommended by a patients rehab clinical team as part of a patient’s treatment plan. This type of group therapy not only helps the patient during their recovery process, but it also helps heal the entire family that has been affected by the substance addiction. 

What Is Marriage and Family Therapy for Substance Use Disorder?

Healing Together in Family Therapy for Substance Use has a multitude of Benefits

Marriage and family therapy for substance use helps those suffering from addiction and their support system of loved ones, improve their connection. It helps improve their interactions, relationships, and solidifies their love and support for one another. Ultimately helping addicts recover and maintain a healthy new life in sobriety. 

One main goal in marriage and family therapy for drug users is to help improve communication between the addict and their loved ones. Effective and open communication is vital and often a missing part of the recovery process. Many individuals who enter into addiction treatment programs have negative feelings regarding trust, openness and honesty. These are key factors in the success or failure of achieving a sober lifestyle. When a patient is open and honest with their loved ones, it helps rebuild trust and broken relationships.

At Hotel California by the Sea, our certified marriage and family therapists use specific tools that directly help patients and their loved ones improve their communication skills and family dynamic. By improving communication between family members, there is a better chance of understanding and meeting the needs of the patient and their family. Our therapists are trained to guide patients and their families navigate the ups and downs of addiction and its strain on their relationships. By bringing together the family unit, setting realistic goals and talking through the needs of each relationship, patients will have a greater support system and encouragement to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety. 

Father with two daughters, one son, and therapist- supporting older daughter through therapy

How can I Benefit from Family Therapy for Drug Users? 

The intent of family therapy for drug users within substance abuse addiction treatment is to strategically alter the families natural dynamics and incorporate healthy, productive and permanent changes associated with their loved ones suffering from addiction. Family therapy can be a complex situation. But it is a safe and healthy environment for relatives and loved ones to sort out their differences, set up healthy boundaries and heal together from the loss that is a result of addiction. Addiction affects everyone in the family, not just the person suffering from it. In family therapy for drug addicts, the needs of each member of the family unit are addressed.

Structural Family Therapy

Structural family therapy is based on five main principles. The first principle looks at interactions between different people within the family, rather than individual psyches. The second principle focuses on the individual suffering from addiction and their personal interactions within their family unit. The third principle looks at the family structure based on the different social interactions. The fourth principle examines how well the family functions by focusing on how the family responds to each other according to family needs. And the last principle looks at how the family can outgrow constraints and obstacles to become a stronger entity.  

Strategic Family Therapy

In Strategic Therapy, therapists use a combination of various psychotherapies to help families adjust the way they communicate and make decisions in relation to addiction. Those who suffer from a substance addiction, along with their loved ones, go through a series of stages to understand and implement more effective ways to communicate with each other and address the negative impact the addiction has had on their family relationship. 

Systemic Family Therapy

When patients and their family members participate in systemic therapy, deeper issues of troubled communication are addressed. Family dynamics and relationships are examined and reassessed within the family unit and create a better understanding and open communication between the individual suffering from an addiction and their loved ones. 

Narrative Family Therapy

Narrative therapy is when patients work to clarify, develop and support their own narrative, which ultimately acts as a guide on their journey during the healing process. This type of therapy encourages the individual to deeply self-reflect and use their current skill set to address their problems with their addiction. Narrative therapy’s goal is to change the effects of the addiction on a person rather than changing the person. 

Transgenerational Family Therapy

In this type of family therapy, transgenerational therapy examines the relationships between individuals in a family unit across multiple generations. By addressing multi-generational relationships, underlying and hidden issues may be present that can affect the relationship surrounding the individual suffering from a substance addiction. Transgenerational therapy can also predict catalysts for future issues by examining past generational relationships. 

Communication Family Therapy

This type of family therapy takes a deep focus on understanding and developing better communication skills between individuals suffering from addiction and their loved ones. Communication issues can stem from multiple factors including cultural background, person experiences, or social pressures. In communication therapy, families are encouraged to listen and open up more effective lines of communication, set reasonable boundaries and ultimately improve intimate family relations. 

Psychoeducation Family Therapy

This type of therapy focuses on educating individuals and their families about the mental health conditions associated with their addiction. This learned knowledge eventually helps empower and support individuals suffering from substance addiction to make better choices towards recovery. The main processes for psychoeducation therapy include: the transfer for information, the availability of medication and treatment support, participating in training and support in self help, and the availability of a safe and secure environment to vent and talk through their issues. 

Family Recovery Support Groups

Support groups such as AI-Anon and Nar-Anon are programs for families with individuals suffering from substance addiction. Family members and loved ones are often encouraged to seek out supportive groups to help them better understand what their loved one may be going through. It is also helpful to find a community of others in the same situation that will better understand their needs and concerns when it comes to dealing with a family member who has an addiction. 

Healing a Relationship with an Intimate Partner can help with Substance and Alcohol Use Disorder

When it comes to marriage counseling within substance abuse treatment, it is specifically designed for addicts and their significant others who have been affected by drug and alcohol abuse. In this type of therapy, partners learn how to effectively communicate and set boundaries, understand and learn more about sobriety and work together past the hurt and distrust that have stemmed from substance addiction. Addiction can take an emotional toll on a partner and marriage counseling and therapy can help both parties learn helpful coping skills when dealing with a loved one’s recovery. This in turn will give the support and encouragement needed for an addict to recover and maintain long-term sobriety. 

Cognitive Behavioral Couples Therapy (CBCT)

In CBCT the main focus is to learn and build successful communication and negotiation skills. Patients and their counterparts are encouraged to identify positives in their relationships and identify any difficulties in their relationship and how it relates to the addiction. Couples work on improving open communication and problem solving skills when dealing with emotions and behaviors associated with the addiction. This ultimately creates a stronger relationship between the individual suffering from substance addiction and their intimate partner. 

Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy (IBCT)

IBCT works to integrate acceptance and change as positive outcomes for couple’s therapy. This type of therapy helps couples focus on the emotional relationship between themselves and aim for acceptance and intimacy while making effective changes to target problems related to substance addiction. IBCT works to understand the following relationship factors that are associated with the addiction:

  1. Differences
  2. Emotional sensitivities
  3. External stressors
  4. Pattern of communication 

Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy (EFT)

EFT works to identify the negative interaction patterns within the couple’s relationship in terms of emotional disconnection and insecurity due to addiction. This type of therapy is based off three stages to create a healthy emotional bond: 

  1. Cycle de-escalation – helps couples understand how negative interactions between each other drive the cycle of distress.
  2. Restricting Interactions – building new core emotional experiences and interactions leading to a more secure connection between the couple.
  3. Consolidation – couples are encouraged to implement their newly learned secure attachment bond to improve their relationship function such as problem solving and daily activities. 

Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy (ABCT)

ABCT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses specifically on couples dealing with alcohol use disorder and alcoholism. Certified therapists help couples navigate through four main principles:

  1. Intimate partner behaviors and interactions that can become triggers for drinking
  2. Intimate partners can reward alcohol abstinence
  3.  A positive intimate relationship is a key motivation to change negative and harmful drinking habits and behaviors
  4. By reducing relationship stress, there is a lower risk of alcohol relapse

Behavioral Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (BCT)

With couples attending BCT, the purpose of this type of therapy is to build support for sobriety and improve relationship functions within the couple. This therapy teaches the couple techniques to increase positive activities which in turn, improve communication skills. The couples agree to a “recovery contract” in which the substance abuser states their intent to stay sober with the support and encouragement of their sober partner. The sober partner plays a role in holding the substance abuser accountable for taking the necessary steps to maintain abstinence whether it is through making sure they are taking the appropriate medication or making sure they are attending support group meetings. BCT’s goal is to increase relationship factors conducive to abstinence by rewarding abstinence with positive reinforcement. 

What is the Impact of Substance Addiction on Domestic Violence?

Alcohol and drug addiction can take a toll on any intimate relationship. In fact, there is a strong correlation between addiction and domestic violence. When both issues occur together, professional addiction treatment programs must address them simultaneously. 

Domestic violence is the use of intentional emotional, psychological, sexual or physical force by a family member or domestic partner used to exert control over another. Anyone in the family circle can be targets and perpetrators of domestic violence. Research has found that about one fourth to one half of men who commit acts of domestic violence against another have substance abuse problems. Research also indicates that women who abuse alcohol and drugs are more likely to become victims of domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse often turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication and to numb themselves from the pain endured from domestic violence. Substance addiction and domestic violence can be causes and triggers for one another and if present within a patient’s assessment, needs to be treated together at the same time. 

Brown cabinets and dining room table in marriage and family therapy for substance abuse facility

Our Specialized Marriage and Family Therapy Services at Hotel California by the Sea

Hotel California by the Sea believes in the importance of meeting the specific needs of each client. Individualized custom treatment plans are created to meet the unique needs of patients and their families. Some patients prefer a completely integrated family therapy session, while others may find it more difficult due to an estranged family relationship. 

At Hotel California by the Sea, the first Friday of each month is “Family Day”. This offers recovering patients enrolled in our inpatient and outpatient programs a chance to participate in various group and family therapies with their loved ones as part of their treatment recovery. 

Our licensed therapist and counselors work with patients and their loved ones in marriage and family therapy for drug addicts to improve communication, define and set healthy boundaries, address dysfunctional interactions and learn effective problem solving strategies. Each patient will receive the appropriate treatment strategy that will be the most effective for his or her addiction treatment plan. Without the support system of friends, families and loved ones, achieving and maintaining sobriety is much more difficult for patients struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs. 

Get Help

Having a supportive team by your side can be very beneficial for those who are suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. At Hotel California by the Sea, we recommend and encourage family supportive programs to be integrated into treatment plans for our clients enrolled in our inpatient and outpatient programs. Reach out to our admissions team today to learn about how marriage and family therapy for addicts can help you achieve and maintain a healthy and fulfilled life free from addictive substances. 

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