It might not seem like it, but there is a world of difference between group therapy and family counseling when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction. The choice that you and your family or loved ones make can truly be a life and death decision.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Family Counseling
Family counseling is a great choice, especially for families who are still involved in the lives of an addict or alcoholic.
One of the greatest strengths of family counseling, as the name indicates, is that it is focus around the family. The family members of an addict or alcoholic can be incredibly influential on the person entering recovery, but that can be either good or bad.
Unfortunately, many times, addicts and alcoholics know exactly what to say to their family members in order to get them to do what they want—to manipulate them. In many instances, this is not malicious—it is just what the addict or alcoholic feels he or she has to do in order to survive.
However, this can cause intense guilt, shame, and resentment within a family unit, especially if (as it usually happens) there are family members who do not subscribe to the idea of giving the addict or alcoholic what he or she wants.
In other words, if not everyone is acting co-dependently towards an addict or alcoholic, there is almost surely resentment somewhere within the family.
This can be a tricky give-and-take balance for both the counselors and the alcoholic/addict. For one, the person suffering from addiction and/or alcoholism might know exactly what to say to a family member to get him or her mad at another, and thereby draw attention away from him or herself, allowing the addict or alcoholic to carry on with business as usual.
Of course, the family unit can be one of the best support systems out there. There is little as motivating as getting back to having a happy and peaceful home life to spur changes in an addict or alcoholic’s behavior—it is just a matter of getting them there.
That connection to family is often an integral part of an addict or alcoholic’s support system, but there are times when the family no longer wants that person in their life.
The Pros and Cons of Group Therapy
Group therapy is a great option because people in the group really don’t have anything to gain from agreeing or disagreeing with an addict or alcoholic. As such, people are far more inclined to call a person out on their delusions or misinformation because they themselves expect others to do the same for them.
With a wide range of individuals in group therapy most of whom are addicts or alcoholics themselves—they are the best equipped to recognize when a person is slipping back into old ideas and behaviors.
Of course, these people also do not have the intimate background or knowledge of the addict or alcoholic’s history, and outside of the group, many may not form an adequate support system for long-term recovery.