Family Behavior Therapy (FBT) in Addiction Treatment

Family behavior therapy mostly deals with family dynamics - which have been changing for several decades now. These changes, on the other hand, have had an impact on how people view life and the roles and behaviors that they take on.

In the modern world, there are different types of family units. They include but are not limited to LGBTQ marriages, shared childcare and household duties, unmarried but cohabiting couples with children, and single parent families. There has also been an increase in the rates of divorce in recent years.

Irrespective of the changes to the family unit, research studies report that family behavior therapy is beneficial in addiction treatment and rehabilitation. Studies have also shown that behavioral health treatment options that include this form of therapy have better outcomes than those that do not.

When used in combination with indivuals therapy, family behavior therapy has also been shown to lead to a reduction in the rates of relapse and psychiatric symptoms, a relieving of stress, and an improvement in medication adherence.

About Family Behavior Therapy

Also known as FBT, family behavior therapy is a behavioral treatment model that is designed to reduce the rates of substance abuse and addiction in young people and adults. It is also applied to clients who are as struggling with other co-occurring behaviors and disorders, such as conduct problems among young people, poor work and school attendance, family discord, and depression.

As a treatment approach, FBT is founded on the theory proposed by the Community Reinforcement Approach. It also includes validated methods of improving attendance and enlistment.

As a participant, you will be required to attend the therapy sessions with your significant other, a parent, a cohabitating partner, or your child or children. Typically, the sessions will be comprised of at least 15 sessions spread over a period that is no shorter than 6 months. The sessions will often last for about 90 minutes initially before being reduced in duration as you progress in your positive outcomes from therapy.

Families and Addiction

Research from the NCADD - the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence - reports that addiction is a family disease. This is in the sense that it can affect the entire family unit as well as all the individuals who are in the same family. Further, substance abuse can put the members of the family under pressure and stress, cause unsettling and frightening experiences, and disrupt normal routine.

Due to an ongoing drug or alcohol abuse problem, the members of the family will also develop unhealthy coping mechanisms as they try to maintain the state of equilibrium within the household. The unit might also become dysfunctional and fragile. Often, this will end up contributing to the rates of substance abuse both among the affected and the unaffected members. This is because the family members will adopt destructive behaviors resulting from addiction.

The children who are members of a family that has a substance abuse problem are often the ones that are most affected by it. When there is such a problem in a home, it will disrupt the normal growth and development of these children. It could also increase their risk of developing emotional, mental, and physical problems.

When parents are addicted to drugs and alcohol, their children may also experience problems in school. They will also have a higher likelihood than their peers to struggle with learning disabilities, get expelled from school, or even start skipping school voluntarily. In the future, these children might also end up struggling with substance use disorders.

Family Therapy and Addiction

Even so, research studies agree that family behavior therapy comes with many benefits when it is applied to addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs. It can help the members of the family recover and heal both as an unit and as unique individuals.

The therapeutic setting will also provide them with a safe space to learn how to accept and adjust to the recovery of their loved ones from mental illness and substance use disorders. In the same way, the therapy sessions will be designed to help the members of the family make positive and specific changes with the goal of improving the home environment. Further, they will learn how to heal the relationships within the family.

In many cases, the family behavior therapy sessions will involve the addict as well as at least one member of their family. However, it is encouraged that the entire family unit participates in these sessions.

There are some benefits of family therapy both to the individual who is struggling with substance abuse and addiction as well as to the other members of their family. These benefits include but are not limited to:

  • In case any other mental health issues exist within the family unit, they might be spotted at treated
  • It can keep the loved one motivated during and engaged in their treatment
  • Members will get the opportunity to talk about their concerns and feeling as well as ask questions to improve their understanding of the addiction that they loved one is struggling with
  • Members will learn about substance abuse and its negative effects on the entire family unit
  • Members will understand how the addiction treatment process works as well as get to know what they should be able to expect once it is completed
  • The family members will get a chance to develop new strategies and skills that they can use to help their loved one remain on the recovery path
  • The family will be in a better position to offer their loved one better levels of support once they have completed the treatment process
  • The sessions could ease the feelings of confusion, stress, anger, and fear that may have been occasioned by the addiction
  • The sessions might improve the communication skills among the family members

Overall, involving yourself in the recovery journey that your loved one it taking could improve their chances of attaining long term abstinence and success. This is why it is encouraged that families participate in family behavior therapy sessions - even if it is only to heal themselves and improve the functioning of the family unit.

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