Drug and alcohol addiction is one of the most significant problems facing the healthcare system. Much of the efforts to reduce addiction rates focus on prevention because it is better to stop addiction than to treat it after it has occurred. Prevention involves having an understanding of the risk factors for addiction. Research indicates that while family history does not guarantee that you will develop an addiction, it is one of the most significant contributing risk factors. Learning about your family history of addiction is vital to making informed choices about drug and alcohol use. Through family counseling for addiction, you can work through your family history and learn risk reduction strategies.
At Westwind Recovery®, we understand the complexities of addiction, the role of family history, and the importance of family to the recovery process. Contact us at 855.340.8832 to learn more about how our family therapy program can help you and your loved ones.
What Is a Family History of Addiction?
Family history plays a role in addiction in several ways. First and foremost is genetics. Tireless research has identified multiple genes and variations of genes linked to substance abuse and addiction. If you have a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle who suffers from addiction, you likely have had one or more of these genes passed on to you. In many families, there is multi-generational evidence of substance use disorders. The family environment also plays a critical role in the possible development of substance abuse or addiction. We are all products of our environments, and growing up in an environment where substance abuse and addiction are commonplace is also a risk factor.
Most family therapy programs approach treatment based on the family systems model, which states that a family is an interconnected unit, and each member affects how the system functions. Therefore, changes in one family member influence changes in the rest of the family, both as individuals and as a collective group. From this perspective, it is clear why addiction is considered a family disease. Some of the family environmental factors that increase the risk for substance abuse or addiction include:
- Inconsistent parenting
- Misplaced anger
- Unrealistic expectations
- Negative communication
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- An overall sense of instability
The same genetic and environmental risk factors also contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Further, mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders are strongly linked and create a complicated cycle that is hard to end without professional dual diagnosis treatment.
Tips for How to Address Your Family History of Addiction
Many people with a family history of addiction never develop a problem of their own. Although there are no guarantees, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a substance use disorder. Consider the following:
- Heal your wounds – If you grew up in an environment where you were exposed to the effects of addiction, you likely have some psychological scars. During counseling, you can address these wounds and build the tools needed to prevent a substance use disorder.
- Be mindful of triggers – Many people turn to alcohol or drugs to find relief from daily life stressors. Be aware of your consumption and develop stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.
- Tell your doctor about your family history – A family history of addiction may impact the way doctors treat certain conditions. For example, they may avoid prescribing medications that have a higher risk for addiction.
- Stay connected with others – Having a solid support network is a preventative measure. You can connect with like-minded people through 12-step support groups like Al-anon. If you feel like your substance use is becoming a problem, do not put off reaching out for help.
Contact Westwind Recovery® for Family Counseling for Addiction
Family dynamics play a prominent role in substance use disorders, and family involvement is critical for the recovery process. At Westwind Recovery®, our family therapy program can help address immediate concerns in a crisis, develop and improve communication, and help family members heal from the effects of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Find out how we can help you and your family by contacting us today. Call 855.340.8832 or use our online form.
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.