Role of Family in Addiction Recovery Process: 5 Ways to Include Family

Discover the connection between family and addiction and how the family can help during recovery here. 

Table of Contents

What Is the Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Process?

Family and addiction are intertwined in multiple ways. Watching and experiencing a loved one change physically and mentally can take a serious toll on the family. Extreme mood swings, financial troubles, and depression are a few examples of how addiction can affect someone. Fortunately, addiction treatment is available and can help improve the lives of not just the addicted individual but their family as well.

Family and Addiction

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The recovery process often starts with attending a detox program at a treatment clinic. While people may undergo detox at home, it’s much safer to do so surrounded by medical professionals. This is because detoxing and withdrawal can lead to various health issues. Depending on the duration, frequency, and substance of use, the symptoms may be more intense and even life-threatening.

Continued Steps for Healing and Sobriety

After the initial detox process, the patient may still experience withdrawal symptoms. The doctor will evaluate the patient and create a plan that works for their individual needs. The treatment plan can include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), family therapy, healthy long-term goals, and various forms of therapy to help the patient during and after recovery.1

What Is Addiction in the Family?

Addiction can affect the family in many ways, including:2
  • Domestic violence
  • Financial issues
  • Shifting family roles
  • Marital problems
  • Social isolation
  • Inconsistent childcare
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Increased stigma

While every family is different, it’s important to take note of how substance use disorders can affect loved ones. The family unit can also play a key role in healing and recovering from addiction.

Signs of Drug or Alcohol Addiction

The signs of drug or alcohol abuse often differ depending on the substance, severity of the addiction, genetics, mental and physical health, and more. Common signs of addiction include the following:

  • Loss of energy or motivation
  • Spending excessive amounts of money to obtain the substance
  • Obsessing about the next dose
  • Engaging in risky behavior while under the influence
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to take the drug 
  • Developing tolerance
  • Stealing to get the drug
  • Lying about consumption habits
  • Compulsively taking the drug or being unable to stop taking it

Difficulty With Family and Addiction

With the negative stigma associated with substance use, many are driven to hide their addiction from their family. Thus, family members are often unaware of the addiction until it becomes too severe to hide. This is another way that family and addiction work differently than addiction affecting coworkers or friends. 

Emotional distress, financial struggles, legal issues, and violence can disrupt the addicted individual and their family’s well-being. Learning the potential signs of substance abuse can help people recognize the problem and get help.

Common Roles in Families With Addiction

When family and addiction are intertwined, family members may fall into or take on specific roles to help keep the peace and appease the person with the addiction. While they may seem helpful, many of these roles are dysfunctional. These roles can include:3

Addicted Individual

The addicted individual is the person with the substance use disorder. They are typically the focal point of the family, as most members spend time and energy dealing with them. 


The caretaker generally covers up the addicted person’s behavior. They may try to keep up appearances, hide from the truth, and avoid getting professional help. This, in turn, prevents them from realizing the full extent of how their issues affect the family. 


This person works very hard to restore the dysfunctional home to how it was before. Despite the hero wanting to help, there are times when their actions may not be the best solution. For instance, doing everything themselves or covering up the addicted individual’s behavior.


The scapegoat tends to create negative attention by acting out to distract from the addicted person’s behavior. This family member is often a younger sibling or family member.


The mascot tries to lessen stress or conflict by being silly or funny. 

Lost Child

This person is often quiet and doesn’t provoke any type of attention to avoid conflict or other issues.

What Is the Role of Families in Recovery?

No one ever has to go through addiction and recovery alone. Family and addiction, while sometimes negatively affecting each other, can also work in positive ways during recovery. Having a strong support system can significantly help the healing process. 

Family members can work together to help their loved one recover from addiction and maintain sobriety. Five roles that families can undertake during recovery include:4

Learn About Illness

Family members can learn about addiction, how it affects their loved one, and any other symptoms or long-term issues it may create. This will help them understand what their loved one is going through and learn about potential ways to help them during and after treatment.

Take Support From a Peer Group

Many peer groups are available specifically created for people who have loved ones struggling with addiction. Family members can find support from others who experienced problems with family and addiction, receive advice, and know that they are not alone. One popular example is Al-Anon.

Go to Family Therapy Sessions

Family therapy can help the addicted individual and their family work through any issues that result from substance abuse. The impact family and addiction have on daily life is significant. Thus, the family therapist will help create positive change and encourage healthy communication.5

Hope for the Best, Prepare for Setbacks

Even if the addicted individual has shown a lot of progress, they may encounter setbacks, such as relapse or lingering withdrawal symptoms. Relapse is common and should not be considered a failure. In fact, research indicates that 40% to 60% of people with substance use disorder relapse after receiving treatment, while 50% to 70% of people with hypertension and asthma relapse after treatment.6

As a result, it’s best to know how to effectively support them in any way possible but also make sure you are prepared for these potential setbacks.

Advocacy in the Community

Families can advocate for other families going through the same issues. People thrive with support, so helping those experiencing problems with family and addiction can go a long way. Advocacy in the community can include attending peer support groups, reaching out to family members and friends, and starting a community social page for family and addiction.

Benefits of Family Involvement in Recovery

The relationship between family and addiction does not have to be negative. There are many benefits that family involvement can bring during the recovery process. While these may take time to truly take effect, ensuring all members of the family do the work is the best way to get results. Some benefits include:
  • More effective communication
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Healthy motivation
  • Resolved anger, stress, fear, or confusion
  • Knowledge of how to recognize and avoid codependent or enabling behaviors
  • Relapse prevention tools
  • Effective coping skills

How to Help a Loved One in Recovery

Family and addiction can impact the family unit in multiple ways. Helping a loved one during and after treatment is a great way to support and care for the addicted individual, increasing their likelihood of recovery. Some ways to do this include:
  • Helping them build coping skills
  • Encouraging complete abstinence from drugs or alcohol
  • Helping them follow treatment programs
  • Encouraging peer support and group participation
  • Figuring out ways to support the family

Get Help With Family Addiction Recovery Treatment at Profound Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with family and addiction, Profound Treatment can help. Our main goal is to ensure every one of our patients is cared for and supported. We provide a safe and effective addiction treatment process by utilizing evidence-based and holistic treatments.

What We Offer

At Profound Treatment, our team carefully develops individualized treatment plans based on each patient’s unique needs. We offer a wide range of therapeutic methods, including medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, and many others. 

We understand the challenges between family and addiction and value the importance of a strong support system. Therefore, we provide family systems therapy, during which our therapists help resolve conflict and improve relationships between family members. 

Contact Us Today

Contact Profound Treatment today to start your journey to a substance-free, healthy life. Family and addiction do not need to be difficult to navigate. We will be with you and your family every step of the way to ensure a successful recovery.

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phone number (310) 929-9546