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Toxic Family Systems: Enabling, Denial, and Blame

Substance use disorder (SUD) impacts the individual using substances along with their entire family. SUD has an impact on a family’s routines, each person’s role, family relationships, careers, and finances. Children, in particular, can be affected: therefore, including them in family therapy is a proactive step to take.

One area in treating SUD that needs improving is support for families so that they can understand the disorder and what is involved in recovery and self-care. Their family roles and responsibilities impact the success of recovery for the person struggling with SUD. Families need to be involved in a positive and helpful way, which is why it is essential that they also receive professional support.

What Is Enabling?

Enabling is an individual making excuses for destructive and toxic behavior and taking responsibility for behaviors that are not theirs to accept. Enabling is a term that can have lots of negative connotations and stigma.

In the situation where enabling is happening, families need professional support. The love they have for the individual with SUD causes behaviors that, while intended to empower, are actually not empowering at all. With professional support for everyone involved, families can learn how to turn their love into true empowerment and learn and understand what healthy helping looks like.

Enabling can occur when there is a lack of understanding and education about SUD; this is when professional intervention for everyone involved can make a difference. Healthy helping puts everyone in control of themselves. There is hope for families who have allowed their love to turn to fear.

What Is Denial?

Denial is when people see and understand that there is a definite problem but do not see the self-deception, rationalization, justification, or excuses that are making the situation worse. Denial is less about dishonesty than avoidance: no one wants to deal with the elephant in the room.

Who Is to Blame?

There is no blame when someone develops a chronic medical condition. SUD is a chronic disease that causes chemical changes in the brain, which in turn causes dependence on substances. Everyone involved must understand that SUD is a chronic disease.

When an individual struggles with SUD, some family members may blame themselves for that individual’s disorder. When a chronic disease is present, it is no one’s fault or responsibility. Professional therapy for the family will support the idea that nobody is to blame when a family member develops SUD.

When there is professional assistance, the entire family benefits from understanding how and why recovery is possible, what their role should be to be helpful and positive, and lastly, that families can and do survive and heal from the experience of substance abuse within their family. Long-lasting recovery happens every day. Families recover, each with their own positive tools to take into the future.

When the world feels out of control because of substance use disorder (SUD), it is essential to help someone find calm in the storm. Mistakes are not failures; they are an opportunity to make situations better. Learning the tools to recover and create a healthy life for everyone involved takes work and support. Family therapy can be the key that makes successful recovery possible for everyone involved. The Guest House provides the tools and support needed to make recovery go in a positive and healthy direction. Families can work together to succeed. Learn more by calling (855) 483-7800.