family looking sadDrug and alcohol abuse can have a devastating impact on the individual struggling with substance abuse, and also the entire family.  Because of this, all family members may be in need of additional support.  Working with a marriage and family therapist can help you get the support you need, whether or not the person with the addiction is willing to receive help.

In fact, research has indicated that couples therapy is more effective than individual therapy in helping support the substance abuser maintain abstinence and in helping improve the overall functioning of the couple’s relationship.  Research also seems to indicate that some marriage and family therapy approaches can help to engage a substance abuser who is initially unwilling to seek help.

Even if a family member struggling with addiction is unwilling to seek help, family therapy has been shown to help family members learn to cope and can help to reduce their emotional distress.  In addition, 12-step programs, such as Al-Anon, can help family members deal with the impact of their loved one’s addiction.

Taking the first step to seek help is often a difficult, yet brave step.  There is support out there, and you are not alone.  Find a therapist who seems to be a good fit for you.  Seek out support groups such as 12-step programs.  Below are two websites which will direct you to 12-step programs in your area:

*O’Farrell, T.J. & Fals-Stewart, W. (2003).  Alcohol abuse. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 29, 121-146.
* O’Farrell, T.J. & Clements, K. (2012).  Review of outcome research on marital and family therapy in treatment for alcoholism.  Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38 (1), 122-144.

*Rowe, C. (2012).  Family therapy for drug abuse:  Review and updates 2003-2010.  Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(1), 59-81.