Addiction Information for a Loved One | Care & Counseling Services | South Miami Hospital
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Addiction Information for a Loved One

Fear, anger, worry and shame can be daily emotions for family members of people addicted to alcohol and drugs. Sometimes loved ones are more affected by the destructive effects than the patient, who is in the throes of alcohol and drug use. 
We advise family members to take the following steps:

1. Educate yourself about the disease. Please use us as a resource for information about alcohol and drug addiction as well as addiction medicine. You will find a wealth of information on our website, along with additional online resources. We also provide information about our evidence-based treatment, services and programs.

2. Get help for yourself and if possible for other affected family members. We offer critical tools to help families – family therapy and professional intervention services. We also recommend that family members attend and participate in Alanon or Naranon, support groups for people affected by another person’s drinking and drug addiction. These groups practice the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and have helped countless people improve family communication and interactive within their families.

Family Therapy
Chances of a successful treatment outcome and sustained recovery increase with the level of family involvement. That is why family therapy is at the core of our evidence-based approach to treatment. A hallmark of our program, the process of supporting and treating the family starts when the patient begins treatment. However, we also counsel family members whose goal is to:

  • Get a loved one to enter treatment
  • Improve communication and decrease stress in the home whether the person is drinking or not.

  • We know that alcohol abuse, drug addiction and substance abuse hurt families, not just our patients. Likewise, the family environment and dynamics impact our patients in recovery.

    We know that family members can suffer destructive mental and even physical effects. To begin the healing process, family members must also experience their own recovery. Family therapy helps loved ones begin a transition to a new life with effective coping strategies. That life no longer revolves around the addict’s behavior, and include habits that support a healthier, more loving relationship with the addicted person.

    Our experienced therapists are also addiction experts, who as family therapists understand the concept and role of family systems. Every person plays a role in the family, and each person’s actions affect the others. When one person changes, the system also changes, creating new challenges and opportunities for growth. Helping a family understand how their particular family system operates, and how to develop healthier relationships, supports the family and the patient.


    Keeping it Together
    Loved ones can easily become overwhelmed with the burden of dealing with the devastating consequences caused by a family member’s addiction. Out of desperation and a desire to help, they may convince the addicted person to seek treatment away from home, hoping that when he or she returns, things will be different.

    In many treatment settings, patients and their families are separated for most of the process. This arrangement gives overwhelmed loved ones and patients a respite, but does not support the development of healthier relationships before the patient returns home.

    Input from family members in therapy provides a broader, more complete picture of the patient’s life and the problems that exist within a family. In therapy, family members address their own feelings about the damage the patient’s behavior has caused. They learn strategies to cope with those feelings, and new ways to relate to the recovering patient. The process also helps loved ones identify and address their own behaviors that contribute to or exacerbate stress and dysfunction in the family dynamic.

    This process helps both families and patients move forward in understanding and recovery.

    Individual and Family Intervention
    A planned intervention can be an important prevention tool for many families affected by addiction. It presents individuals and families with an opportunity to get help before a destructive situation deteriorates even more. 

    Because the disease affects reward and memory circuitry in the brain, people in active addiction or at risk of relapse do not often see the consequences, no matter how glaring. Likewise, a family in a crisis related to addiction can be too overwhelmed to find a path to peace and understanding.

    Our intervention professionals can help. As both addiction experts and family therapists, they understand the disease and the added complexities of family dynamics.

    What is an intervention?
    An intervention is a planned process designed to confront the person with the consequences of the addiction, and ask him or her to accept treatment. It may include anyone who cares about the addicted person including family, friends, colleagues and clergy.

    Family intervention is a planned process designed to improve and strengthen family relationships. The process involves helping family members face how their behavior contributes to the problem, affecting or enabling others, including the addicted person. Family members receive family therapy and are given tools and strategies to develop healthier relationships.     

    Why seek professional help?
    An intervention requires experience, extensive planning and an understanding of the mental and physical effects of addiction on individuals and families. A poorly executed intervention can make a bad situation worse, with destructive consequences for the addicted person and the family.

    If you would like to speak to a professional about planning an intervention for a family member or family, call us at 1-800-YES-HOPE or email us at