Substance abuse is linked to family problems and therefore needs to be addressed in treatment. For example:
- Troubled family and romantic relationships can lead to substance abuse and can also play a role in its continued use.
- There is a higher risk of drug use in families that have high levels of stress, less family satisfaction and communication, and fewer family resources.
- People who are trying to maintain their sobriety might have more trouble doing so when there are conflicts in the family or when their partners are using drugs.
- Because stress and conflict in family and intimate partner relationships are associated with substance abuse, family-based treatment that addresses and resolves these relationship issues may help to ensure a successful recovery.
The support of family members can help substance abusers to be successful in their recovery. For example, one study showed that people who had family support were less depressed and drank less alcohol two years after completing substance abuse treatment.
Substance abuse is associated with violence in intimate relationships and also impacts substance abusers’ ability to appropriately parent their children. As a result, children of substance users are at increased risk for problems such as:
- Being exposed to parental and family conflict
- Family financial and legal problems
- Safety and instability issues such as unsafe living conditions and frequent moves
- Developing substance use disorders themselves
In light of these facts, we at El Centro believe that substance abuse treatment is most effective when it is family-based, identifies and builds on family strengths and resources (protective factors), and identifies and reduces family conflict and related risk factors.