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Families often experience deep trauma and emotional distress when a loved one abuses alcohol or drugs. Children are especially impacted by the side effects of substance use disorder (SUD). According to Social Work in Public Health, “The negative impacts of parental SUDs on the family include disruption of attachment, rituals, roles, routines, communication, social life, and finances.” In addition, “Families in which there is a parental SUD are characterized by an environment of secrecy, loss, conflict, violence or abuse, emotional chaos, role reversal, and fear.” West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients and their loved ones with the treatments and services they need to address trauma and heal as a family.  

How Does Treatment for SUD Address Trauma in Families?

Family trauma can cause substance abuse and be caused by substance abuse. The relationship between family trauma and SUD is complicated and depends on many factors, including: 

  • Family dynamics 
  • Presence of co-occurring disorders 
  • Family history of substance abuse 
  • Strength of support systems

Treatment for SUD addresses trauma by providing families with a safe space for identifying and processing all factors affecting family dynamics. Clinicians support clients and their loved ones by helping them develop healthy coping skills and communicate more effectively. West Coast Recovery Centers uses trauma-informed care and other evidence-based services to help clients build healthier bonds with their loved ones. 

How Does Family Therapy and Other Support Services Address Trauma?

Therapy provides people with a nonjudgmental space where they can come together to resolve issues caused by trauma and substance abuse. Family trauma and addiction have many possible connections, including: 

  • Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with family trauma 
  • Individuals under the influence of addictive substances may emotionally or physically harm loved ones 
  • Trauma and addictive behaviors may occur independently and increase the side effects of SUD

Family therapy provides guidance and education to individuals and families experiencing trauma related to substance abuse. People often benefit from seeing how their behaviors have affected their loved ones. Being able to help heal the trauma they caused may also provide clients with a sense of relief and peace. 

How Do People Address Trauma When Acknowledging the Consequences of Their Actions?

Many people choose to address trauma by identifying and acknowledging their part in the traumatic event. A few of the possible traumatic events people may cause while under the influence of mind-altering substances include: 

  • Legal issues, including losing custody of a child or being arrested 
  • Verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse 
  • Emotional or physical neglect 

Some substances may alter a person’s temperament, making them uncharacteristically violent or aggressive. Establishing sobriety removes the trigger and makes it easier for people to regain emotional stability and control their responses to stress. Trauma caused by aggression or violence during periods of active substance abuse may require long-term therapy. Family trauma does not disappear when clients complete treatment. Instead, individuals in recovery must have frank discussions with family members and friends affected by their addictive behaviors. Acknowledging responsibility for past actions is the first step toward addressing family trauma. 

Why Should People Address Family Trauma During Recovery?

Processing family trauma is the only way to ensure clients return to a healthy home environment after completing treatment. Treatment programs allow clients to express concerns and resolve tension or conflict between family members. Family dynamics are often complicated, and substance abuse often contributes to a wide range of relationship problems, including co-dependency or enabling behaviors.  

Addressing trauma during treatment allows families to do the following: 

  • Resolve conflict and tension 
  • Build deeper bonds 
  • Heal from the effects of substance abuse 
  • Improve family dynamics 
  • Reduce pressure on family members and clients 

Treating trauma is the beginning of the recovery journey for clients or their families. After addressing the consequences of substance abuse, people must continue to find healthy ways to grow and move forward as they heal together. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.”

How Does Psychoeducation Encourage Family Healing During Recovery?

West Coast Recovery Centers uses psychoeducation and other services to help families better understand their loved one’s condition. Providing a context for the events leading to the trauma can help people recover more effectively. Psychoeducation also reduces the risk of a person developing trauma-related disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Clinicians use psychoeducation to do the following:

  • Educate clients and their loved ones about SUD and co-occurring conditions
  • Reduce stigmas, misunderstandings, and misinformation
  • Facilitate healing between family members
  • Teach clients and their loved ones healthy coping skills and stress management 
  • Ensure families have access to support resources
  • Empower clients and their loved ones to actively participate in recovery

Family therapists use psychoeducation to ensure families have a clear understanding of how their loved one’s thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors were impacted by substance abuse. West Coast Recovery Centers uses family therapy, psychoeducation, and other tools to help families heal and grow together. 

Substance abuse is often harmful and traumatic for family members to witness. In many cases, close friends and family bear many of the consequences of addiction and have access to fewer resources. Treatment offers clients and their loved ones an opportunity to better understand how addiction affects thoughts and behaviors. Recovery programs also provide clients with essential tools and services for repairing or strengthening relationships with loved ones. West Coast Recovery Centers encourages families to actively participate in the recovery process. The clinical team provides psychoeducation and other resources for families to help them learn how to support their loved ones in recovery. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
DHCS Licensing and Certification Division