Tag Archives: family therapy

Tag Archives: family therapy

Understanding What Adolescents Need from Treatment

A few years ago, the National Public Radio (NPR) addressed the concern of adolescents in addiction recovery. The article emphasized the fact that teens and adolescents simply cannot receive a “one-size-fits-all” form of adult treatment; in fact, this age group needs specialized treatment that suits their learning and development stage in life. Jennifer Weiss-Burke of Albuquerque, N.M., told NPR about her own adolescent who struggled with heroin addiction – and later died of an overdose. She stated,

“It was never enough. Thirty days here, 30 days there, maybe detox for five days. It was never long-term, and that’s what he needed. Recovery from heroin addiction requires long-term treatment.”

The Needs of Adolescents in Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that part of adolescent treatment is guiding adolescents to understand the effects of substance abuse and its consequences for the individual, family and society as a whole. There are many treatment options that can be used to help teens – and supervision is necessary to ensure they adhere to the rules. The following are some of the most evidence-based treatment approaches:


  • Group Therapy – adolescents can gain peer support while engaging in meaningful discussions related to myths of drug use, recovery goals and more.
  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement – by replacing negative influences in their lives with positive ones, teens can adapt to greater communication skills as well as enhanced participation in recovery activities.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – an evidence-based practice, CBT can help teens identify negative thought processes and discover new ways of approaches thoughts for both relapse prevention and happier living.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) – some teens are ambivalent about seeking treatment, and this type of counseling aids them in exploring the benefits and costs of obtaining help.
  • 12-Step Programs – the 12-Step program has helped many people in strengthening their sense of spirituality, and many teens find that once they focus on others more than themselves, their life becomes more fulfilling.


  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy – over 12-16 sessions, a counselor observes how families and adolescents interact with one another; from there, the counselor can help families adjust to healthier patterns of interaction so as to improve the family dynamic.
  • Family Behavior Therapy – families and adolescents work together to select approaches to treatment while learning new strategies for working together. Then, they’re able to apply what they’ve learned outside of treatment and reconvene to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • Functional Family Therapy – behavioral techniques for families and adolescents are covered, such as communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution and parenting skills.
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy – this type of therapy may integrate schooling and family therapy into one, so that families may gain an understanding of how their adolescent is performing in academic settings alongside recovering from addiction.
  • Multisystemic Therapy – a therapist will work with the family as a whole, as well as with the adolescent and family alone; a comprehensive look will explore characteristics of the adolescent and how they’re performing in all areas of life.

Recovery Support

At Cumberland Heights, adolescents are offered a number of recovery support services to make their stay an easy transition:

  • School and support services – adolescents can attend an accredited private high school designed to help specifically adolescents recovering from addiction
  • Meditation – teens can learn breathing techniques and stay in the present moment, which will help them better manage difficult thoughts and emotions
  • Prepared group meals – these “together” times can help build a teen’s social support network
  • Recreation – fun activities, such as ropes challenges and adventure therapy, can get teens out of their comfort zone and into the present moment
  • Group or individual therapy – adolescents will engage in meaningful discussions that open their heart – and mind – to what others are going through and how their behavior impacts those around them
  • Personal time – to reflect and practice self-care in recovery

A Tailored Program: Obtaining Education In Recovery

Time Magazine emphasized the importance of allowing teens to earn their GED while in addiction recovery – because adolescents’ lives shouldn’t be put to a halt just because they’re in treatment. A 2017 study conducted by researchers from Vanderbilt University found that students in recovery schools – such as the one provided by Cumberland Heights – are significantly more likely to maintain abstinence from alcohol and other drugs 6 months into the program than those who don’t. Furthermore, students are likely to be less absent and are more likely to participate in their treatment program.

Many adolescents elsewhere are unable to attend school while in treatment due to the harsh climate and judgment cast on them. At Cumberland Heights, however, there’s a supportive environment that fosters open communication and healing – and teens who attend this school are working towards healing and restoration. If you believe your teen could benefit from this type of program, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program located in Kingston Springs that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966, and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998

Parents often face these challenges while their adult child is recovering from addictionIf you have an adult child who has struggled with addiction, it can be one of the hardest endeavors to try and rebuild the relationship that was so quickly taken away. When people are in the throes of substance dependency, they’re different – they act different, they say things they wouldn’t normally say and for parents, it forces a huge wedge between what they thought they knew about their loved one versus who they really “seem” to be.

If you’re a parent who is hoping to reconnect with your adult child while they’re in recovery, you’re likely feeling nervous. Many parents fear that the relationship just won’t be the same, and sometimes their own healing process doesn’t allow enough room for their adult child to re-enter their life so quickly again. No matter where you’re at in this process, take a deep breath – it does get better.

In 2018, a parent and advocate shared their personal story and lessons learned when their adult child went through both addiction and recovery. They told DrugFree.org of several lessons they learned, such as:

  • Parents can enable their adult children without even realizing it
  • An adult child’s addiction cannot be “fixed” by the parent alone – their child has to change their life
  • Addiction can lead a person to lie, even if they never did this before
  • Adult children can become criminals through addiction
  • Other friends and family may not want this person around anymore

A major lesson that comes with this for many parents is to realize that because these things have happened, the relationship won’t be the same – but that doesn’t mean they can’t become stronger from it. First and foremost, you need to make sure that you’re seeking help for your own sense of healing. Family therapy and 12-Step programs such as Al-Anon provide people with a safe space to join a community of others who understand where you’re coming from – and when you’re ready, you can begin rebuilding the relationship with your adult child.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Family having a therapy discussion to heal during recoveryFamilies experience a great deal of turmoil when a loved one struggles with addiction, leaving many family members feeling as though there’s nowhere to turn. When primary caregivers – such as parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – are the ones fighting addiction, the entire family structure can become severely debilitated. New roles must be taken on from other members in the family, oftentimes with children picking up additional responsibilities in effort to keep the family system strong. If your family is currently trying to find peace and balance during a time when a loved one is seeking treatment, family therapy is one of the most beneficial treatments to get involved in.

What is Family Therapy?

According to the European Family Therapist Association (EFTA), family therapy is,

“…A well established and evidenced based approach…[that] addresses the problems people present within the context of their relationships with significant persons in their lives and their social networks.”

Dr. Anthony Siracusa, a psychologist in Massachusetts and a spokesperson for the American Psychological Association (APA), told Very Well Mind that family therapy acknowledges the fact that there are a number of people experiencing an issue – and thus everyone should come together to support those who are having problems. With substance abuse specifically, family therapy can help family members to address a number of concerns:

  • Helping family members understand how addiction has impacted the family as a whole
  • Recognizing the shifts that have taken place as a result of substance abuse occurring
  • Acknowledging pain, heartache, sadness, anger, despair and hopelessness that family members may feel as they attempt to reconcile with their loved one, or at least come to terms with what has happened in light of addiction
  • Exploring communication patterns that are currently taking place within the family, and helping family members to identify whether or not these patterns are promoting or hindering the success of the family
  • Discovering new perspectives from family members that may otherwise be difficult to talk about
  • Gaining knowledge on what addiction is and how it’s affected a loved one, so that family members can have a better understanding of the disease
  • And so much more

There are unhealthy behaviors that family members may also struggle with, which can be addressed in family therapy. They are:


When codependency is present, it is often the result of a dysfunctional family system. Codependent behaviors are essentially learned – through thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that become wrapped up in a loved one’s problems. Signs of codependency include worrying constantly about a loved one’s drug use as well as their consequences, living in denial about a loved one’s addiction, reacting violently to events related to a loved one’s addiction and more. Family members who struggle with codependency may even neglect their own mental, physical and spiritual health because they’re self-esteem has become low from tending to their loved one’s needs so often. For these family members, mood is often based on their loved one’s mood – and because of this unhealthy pattern, anger can manifest deep down, going unexpressed.


Family members who enable their loved one with addiction tend to remove the consequences of their actions out of love or fear – and because of this, their loved one is much better able to keep using. Signs of this may be using substances with a loved one to try and keep them “even keeled” or even suppressing thoughts or feelings in order to avoid conflict with a loved one. If reasons are given for why a loved one “needed to abuse substances”, family members who enable will accept those reasons – and will work to protect their loved one by minimizing the consequences of their addiction.

Altogether, codependency and enabling behaviors can only perpetuate the addictive actions taken by the loved one. Family members often don’t recognize they’re doing this – and that’s when family therapy can shed some light.

Healing in Recovery

There are 4 elements that are part of family therapy which help everyone move forward:

  1. Family engagement – at the beginning stages of family therapy, a therapist will help guide family members to open up with one another as well as see one another’s point of view.
  2. Relational reframing – with this element, therapists help family members to notice not just the quick, critical judgments that family members have of one another – but also by focusing on the relationship aspect that everyone truly cares about.
  3. Family behavior change – new skills are taught so that family members can begin changing their behaviors to those that are more conducive for family healing.
  4. Family restructuring – individual family members are encouraged to gain perspective on this new dynamic their family has, so that the family can work together to heal.

Cumberland Heights in Murfreesboro Tennessee is a 12-step based outpatient alcohol & drug rehab program. Cumberland Heights’ Intensive Outpatient Program is designed for individuals age 18 and above who may be in the early stages of dependency or are experiencing problems with alcohol or drug use. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

addicted loved oneFamilies go through so much when a loved one is battling addiction. The family system is unique in that it’s made up of individual members who have their own thoughts and feelings surrounding addiction. All of these individuals must work together to carry out day-to-day functions, but addiction oftentimes shakes up that foundation. For example, a person who typically watches the kids or pays the bills may no longer be able to do so if addiction is involved. Likewise, a family member who typically cleans the house and cooks meals may abruptly stop these tasks in favor of seeking out substances to use. There is a lot that goes on here – so how are family members’ emotions affected?

In 2018, researchers from Alcohol Research UK built up a study titled, “Understanding Recovery from a Family Perspective: A Survey of Life in Recovery for Families”. An online survey was distributed, and 1,565 family members of someone with addiction completed it. Forty-eight percent of the respondents were parents; 24% were spouses or ex-spouses and the remaining participants were children, siblings or friends of someone with addiction. These were some of their findings:

  • Some individuals reported they could not pay the bills while their loved one was in active recovery
  • Family violence was a factor for 31.7% of participants
  • Almost half of participants had emotional wounds that had not been treated appropriately
  • Many family members found that their loved one’s addiction took a toll on their own work performance

Elevated levels of stress, low self-esteem, depression, lower social and academic functioning, physical strain and more all contributed to a lower quality of life for family members. What many family members do not realize is that there are resources to help them heal and recover – and that’s necessary for them. Family addiction is certainly going to impact other family members, as the entire system has changed. If you are a family member struggling to cope with a loved one’s addiction, seek help for yourself – today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

One of the Most Important Components Needed to Grow in a Family Care Program

Addiction affects so much more than just one person – entire families, entire neighborhoods and entire societies can be impacted in a multitude of ways. If your family has been affected by addiction, a lot of time and healing work needs to take place. Previous studies have shown us that the entire stability of the family can be shaken if addiction enters the picture. This is because sometimes, new roles must be established/transferred, and this changes the overall family dynamic. For example, a parent who is actively addicted to drugs may no longer be able to watch their children, thus placing a younger sibling, working parent or grandparent to take over that role. Family care programs are excellent because they help your entire family work together and grow as a team as a loved one works through recovery, especially since the impact can weighs so heavily.

Families often need structure and guidance for working through this time of healing, as family members may hold a lot of anger, tension, sadness, anxiety and more. Family care programs can be challenging because there is so much pain involved – but the therapist is meant to serve as a safe, third party person to guide everyone through the healing process. Previous research on the topic of family therapy has given us a lot insight into what works for families in recovery, and the most important one is this: readiness to change.

Individual family members must be ready to change just as much as the family as a whole; since addiction is considered a family disease, individuals have to find healing and strength from within in order to make the entire family stronger. Two years ago, researchers confirmed that readiness for change really has an impact on dysfunctional family functioning and continued substance use within the family. Even if family members aren’t quite sure how to work together yet, focusing on the benefit of healing for themselves could be a great motivator for change. As time has shown again and again, harmful family cycles can continue unless family members decide to take a stand against it and do something different. Family programs give people the opportunity to do just that: break the cycle.

Communication is critical, and a therapist can help guide the family into new ways of communicating wants and needs. Different topics can be addressed, depending on specific family issues. If your family is currently trying to move forward from addiction, don’t underestimate the power of additional help. Sometimes an “outsider” can give your family everything you need to move forward with recovery.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.

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