While it is known that people with a close family member addicted to drugs or alcohol can experience multiple symptoms of physical and psychological stress, these family members are not often intervened with in a medical setting. A recent study coming out of England shows that brief and/or full interventions for family members dealing with an addicted loved one both reduce emotional stress and increase the ability to use coping skills.
Researchers conducted both brief and full interventions with family members affected by a loved one’s drug or alcohol problem. A brief intervention included one face-to-face session and receiving a self-help manual based on the principles used in the full intervention. The full intervention included 5 face-to-face, manual-guided counseling sessions that focused on identifying stressors, providing information on alcohol and other drugs, and developing coping behaviors and sources of support. Interestingly, there was no difference between the 2 groups of interventions. In the 12 week follow up visits, both showed considerable reductions in stress and improvement in coping skills.
The study concluded that a well-constructed self-help manual handed out by a primary care professional may be as effective for family members as several face-to-face sessions with a professional.
Family support is so important in a treatment setting to support the addicted family member. However, we can’t ignore the stresses the entire family faces. Addiction is a family disease. In response to this, Crossroads for Women is now offering an outpatient therapy group to family members that have loved ones struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction. It is designed to offer support, options and a place to be themselves. Participants are able to get the help they need for their situation and share trials and triumphs with others. Women and men are welcome to this group. FMI: 207.773.9931 or email.
For more on the study:
Treatment in Primary Care for Family Members Affected by Substance Abuse (JoinTogether.org)
The relative efficacy of two levels of a primary care intervention for family members affected by the addiction problem of a close relative: a randomized trial. (study abstract from Addiction magazine)