Proven By Clinical Research: How Family Therapy Supercharges Recovery

How Family Therapy Supercharges Recovery

Family is where the heart is, and rightfully so. Our families are incredibly important because they provide love, support, and a warm feeling of belonging.

But what happens when something like addiction enters the picture? Well, addiction isn’t just challenging for the person going through it; it’s also really challenging for their family. 

This is where family therapy comes into play and is crucial in the recovery of the person battling addiction.

Now, you might have heard about family therapy, but you might wonder, “Can it really help, and how much of a difference can it make?” 

In this blog, we’re here to answer those questions. We’ll share insights from studies and research papers that show just how powerful family therapy can be when it comes to helping someone on the path to recovery from addiction.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family support is a special type of group therapy designed to help family members understand each other better, support one another, and work through challenging situations as a team.

A trained family therapist conducts these support sessions, which serve as a primary treatment modality or complement other therapeutic interventions.

Extensive research demonstrates that individuals who receive robust family support are statistically more inclined to remain committed to their treatment, cease substance misuse, and sustain sobriety. (1)

It’s worth noting that the significance of such support extends to all types of relationships.

For instance, consider a study involving couples who participated in “behavioural couples therapy.” Their outcomes revealed marked improvements in abstinence rates and communication skills, surpassing those who underwent individual therapy.

Now, let’s dissect how addiction impacts various family structures: (2)

A person who lives alone or with a partner

If one person is struggling with addiction and the other isn’t, they both need help. Sometimes, they might rely too much on each other, which can be problematic.

A person who lives with a spouse or partner and kids

When a parent has a drinking or drug problem, it can be really tough for the kids. The other parent often has to care for the children and do the parenting. It’s even more complicated if both parents are struggling with addiction.

A person who is part of a blended family

Blended families can be complicated, and addiction can make things even trickier. It can mess up how the family works and how everyone gets along.

An older person with grown-up kids

Sometimes, older people need extra help for their addiction. There might also be problems like elder abuse that need to be reported to the authorities.

A teenager with a drug or alcohol problem who lives with their family

When a young person in the family is dealing with addiction, it can be tough for their brothers and sisters. Their parents might be so busy dealing with the addicted teen that they forget the other kids. 

And if a parent is struggling with addiction, it can result in more physical and emotional problems. In this situation, getting help for everyone in the family is crucial.

Evidence on Effectiveness of Family Therapy On Recovery

Research shows that when people get help for their behaviour and feelings, like when they have a problem with addiction, it’s more effective if their family is involved. This means that if a person’s family joins in the therapy, it can help that person decide to start treatment and stick with it. 

It also makes it less likely for them to quit treatment early. Plus, it helps them stop using drugs or alcohol and keeps them from returning to it, which is called relapse. This all works together to support a person’s recovery over the long term. (1)

And the best part is that family therapy isn’t just about helping one person. It also helps the other family members. 

By making things better in the family, it reduces the stress that others feel. It can even stop other family members from using drugs or alcohol. 

Research also says that family therapy can make couples treat each other nicer, make kids behave better, help the whole family get along better, and even improve how the family connects with others in the community. So, it’s not just about helping one person; it’s about improving the whole family and community.

Here are a few studies on the effectiveness of family therapy on recovery from addiction

A Meta-Analysis (2012)

In this analysis, scientists aimed to understand how different treatments impacted teenagers with substance use problems. They gathered data from numerous studies and identified 45 suitable studies for their investigation. These studies included 73 pairs of teenagers – some receiving treatment, while others did not. (3)

The initial analysis:

In the initial analysis, the researchers examined 250 information groups to assess the effectiveness of various treatments compared to no treatment. 

Their findings indicated that family therapy programs stood out as the most effective. However, it’s worth noting that not all treatments had been compared to each other, making it a bit challenging to determine the absolute best treatment.

The second analysis:

To gain deeper insights into treatment effectiveness, a second analysis involved studying 311 groups of information about how teenagers changed during and after the treatments. 

The most significant improvements were observed in family therapy and mixed and group counselling.

In summary, the research highlighted family therapy as the most effective treatment.

Study of Patients In Residential Addiction Centre (2016)

In this study, researchers investigated the completion rates of people within a residential addiction centre, particularly examining the impact of family members or significant others participating in the therapeutic process compared to those without family involvement. (4)

They analyzed data from 274 patients enrolled in a residential addiction treatment program, categorizing them into two distinct groups. 

One group included individuals with family participation during their treatment, while the other included patients without family involvement. 

The researchers then assessed the successful completion of the treatment program across various characteristics within these groups.

The outcome analysis revealed a 9.62% increase in the program completion rate for individuals with a family member involved. 

This finding underscores the significant positive influence of family support on the likelihood of successfully completing addiction treatment within a residential centre.

Study of Participants In Intensive Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment

This study looked at 36 families who went through a family therapy program for two years. Researchers wanted to see if this kind of therapy could change how families felt about people with addiction and those in their families who were struggling with it. (5)

The families were split into two groups: one that did the family therapy and another that didn’t.

The results showed that the families who did the therapy had some great outcomes. The people with addiction in those families used drugs less, changed their thoughts about drugs, learned more about how drugs can hurt them, and got better at handling their actions.

Family therapy also made the families stronger. It helped them stick together and solve problems better. It even helped people with addiction learn how to deal with challenging situations and bounce back. So, this kind of therapy can be a great help for families going through addiction challenges.

Now Is The Time To Begin Your Family’s Journey To Health And Wellness

Playing an active role in a loved one’s recovery not only boosts their odds of long-term success and healing but can also enhance family dynamics and the mental well-being of each person involved.

At Centres for Health and Healing, we firmly recognize that mental health challenges, encompassing behavioural issues and substance addictions, don’t solely affect the individuals facing them but also deeply impact their family members.

Our extensive experience shows that involving the family is essential for effective addiction treatment, continued support, and enduring recovery. 

If you believe that family therapy could benefit you and your loved ones, please contact us today

We’d be delighted to provide more information about our family program.


  1. Lander L, Howsare J, Byrne M. The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Soc Work Public Health. 2013;28(3-4):194-205. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2013.759005. PMID: 23731414; PMCID: PMC3725219.
  2. Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Family Therapy. 
  3. Tanner-Smith EE, Wilson SJ, Lipsey MW. The comparative effectiveness of outpatient treatment for adolescent substance abuse: a meta-analysis. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2013 Feb;44(2):145-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2012.05.006. Epub 2012 Jul 2. PMID: 22763198; PMCID: PMC3477300.
  4. Int J Ment Health Addiction. The Role of Family in Residential Treatment Patient Retention. DOI 10.1007/s11469-016-9712-0. 
  5. Ulaş, E., & Ekşi, H. (2019). Inclusion of Family Therapy in Rehabilitation Program of Substance Abuse and Its Efficacious Implementation. The Family Journal, 27(4), 443–451. 
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