Breaking addiction, finding joy

Chelsea Jones | 10/18/2013, 9:08 a.m.
Family members and friends may wonder, “Why can’t they just stop?” While a number of individuals may be thinking, “Just ...
Tim Cowlishaw and Laurie Dhue

Alcoholism, he elucidated, can likely develop in unhealthy family systems. An unhealthy family system is an unbalanced system, one characterized by family members being distrustful of one another and having difficulty with bonding.

In addition, an unhealthy family system is one that is rigid with a lot of rules. For example, it is very specific about how family members are to interact with each other.

Similarly, a family system that lacks structure and appropriate boundaries is unhealthy as well. Rather, an ideal family system is one that exhibits structure and has rules, but also flexibility.

To begin balancing the family system towards a healthier framework, the therapist informed that family members have to become familiar with the roles they play within the family. In one of the therapy sessions, they are asked to choose roles that they most closely identify with. Some of the roles that they can choose are victim, chemical dependent, enabler, hero, scapegoat and mascot.

The therapist gave an example of how the hero is someone who is generally liked by others and tries hard to succeed, but is also someone who can be pushy and judgmental. The therapist said that once family members have a good understanding of the roles they play, they are conditioned to develop roles that create a more flexible and positive family system.

Another part of this therapy is educating family members about the process of addiction. They are given lessons on the neurobiology of an addict’s mind and the post-withdrawal symptoms that an addict may experience during recovery.

The final part of this therapy is getting family members to understand how addiction disrupts the family system, and getting them to make a commitment towards lasting change.

More information about alcohol and drug addiction, treatment and recovery can be found at http://www.carontexas.org.