Program for Family Caregivers of Addicts

As a family caregiver the focus is often on everyone around you, which can lead to your needs or struggles going unnoticed. As a caregiver, you may spend most or even all of your time focused on someone else’s needs. You’ll then have little time to spend with friends and family. As a result, your relationships may suffer. When you can’t maintain your relationships, you face a high risk of loneliness. Although caregiving can provide a sense of purpose, it can also cause stress, anxiety or depression and thus the need for Family caregiver support including Family Caregiver Therapy. You may have heard of counselling, or psychotherapy, to help someone with an addiction, Family Caregiver therapy for addiction is just that, except that the one going to therapy is not the individual struggling, but for the family caregivers. While individual therapy focuses on the thoughts, behaviours and emotions of one person, family Caregiver therapy focuses on the relationships, aims to understand and validate the experiences of the family caregiver. The goal of Family Caregiver program is to bring clarity about the disorder, educate on how to handle the behavioral disturbances of the cared one, how to manage the relationships, and to foster repair and closeness and above all provide much needed selfcare tools for the caregivers.

How do we help

In the addiction context, we will explore with the family how substance use is embedded in a cycle of interaction within the family. For example, many young adults and parents are in what we call a fugitive/detective dynamic. The more the young adult acts like a fugitive (hiding, lying) the more a parent acts like a detective. In addition, we can provide additional education about substance use for the family caregiver and support them in reducing their unhelpful behaviors and increasing their effective behaviors. Anxiety, anger, frustration and a deep worry often interfere with parents renovating their approach to family life. We can also put the substance use in a different context by addressing other challenges and highlighting other resiliencies in the family Many research projects demonstrate that family caregiver therapy for addiction is very helpful, although there are time-based and/or economic barriers as to why it’s often not offered, implemented or practical. In our work, we’ve identified four of the most important components of family caregiver support Family engagement Enhancing family caregivers’ involvement and investment in the therapy of the young adult who is struggling is key. Family Engagement interventions typically take place during the initial phase of treatment, and are continually revisited in family therapy for addiction. Relational reframing  Relational Reframing, consists of interventions designed to move away from individual ways of defining problems and generating solutions, and toward an understanding focused on relationships. These interventions also aim to remove irrational descriptions and attributions for family caregivers’ behaviors, and instead focus on understanding motivations for behavior based on those relationships.  Behaviour change  This aims to shift the behavior of family members. These interventions aim to teach concrete new techniques and encourage changes that will allow for improved relationships. New skills and behaviors are positively reinforced and coached the Family caregivers.  Family restructuring  Family caregivers are encouraged to understand the dynamics of their family, and how these dynamics are linked to the problematic behavior. It ends up prompting shifts in attachment and emotional processes between family members. Even without a formal family caregiver support, parents can begin to think about how they can be resources for their cared ones, and how relationships could shift in their families to better support the cared one who is struggling with substance use. Parents should be curious about their son or daughter and his/her life in a nonjudgemental manner  We know that engaging in conversations can be very difficult, so family caregivers shouldn’t be afraid to seek support on their own to do so, or be discouraged if it at first it doesn’t feel successful when they aim to engage in a more skilful conversation with their cared one.
We help them understand that the most effective way to change behaviour is through positive reinforcement. We help them stay focused on the positive relationship and their lifelong bond with their cared ones, offering compassion and love. It is truly the most important thing and has the biggest positive influence on their behaviour. Most importantly, we help the family caregiver to position themselves as resources for their cared ones rather than act as probation officers.