Leone Centre Glossary

Substance Abuse in Family Therapy

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse in family therapy addresses the complex dynamics and challenges that arise when a family member struggles with substance use. This form of therapy recognises the impact of substance abuse on the entire family unit and seeks to create support systems to involve all members in the healing process.

Key Issues

Families dealing with substance abuse often face a range of significant issues, including communication breakdowns, trust erosion, and emotional distress. These challenges can disrupt the family’s sense of safety, boundaries, and cohesion and create a cycle of distress, conflict and misunderstanding. Family therapy, usually as part of a multidisciplinary approach, aims to address and resolve these issues, fostering honest communication patterns, rebuilding trust, and providing emotional support to all members involved. This comprehensive approach can help restore family balance and support long-term recovery.

Therapeutic Goals

The primary aim of family therapy in the context of substance abuse is to provide a supportive and understanding environment. This includes improving communication, rebuilding trust, and promoting mutual support among family members. By addressing these areas, families can work together towards healthier interactions and relationships.


Family therapists use various approaches to engage all family members in the therapeutic process. These may include family meetings, individual sessions, and group discussions to explore and support each member’s perspective and experiences. The collaborative nature of family therapy helps in identifying underlying issues and developing new ways of relating to each other.


Family therapy can significantly improve the family dynamic. Benefits often include better communication, stronger relationships, and a more supportive home environment. These changes can contribute to the overall well-being of the family and support the recovery journey of the individual with substance use issues.


How does substance abuse affect family dynamics?

Substance abuse can create tension, conflict, and breakdowns in communication within a family. It often leads to trust issues and emotional distress for all members.

Who can benefit from family therapy?

Any family dealing with substance abuse can benefit from family therapy. It is especially useful for those looking to improve communication, rebuild trust, and create a supportive environment.

What should we expect in family therapy sessions?

Family therapy sessions typically involve open discussions facilitated by an experienced therapist, aimed at exploring each member’s perspectives and experiences to promote understanding and collaboration.


  1. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy
  2. How Family Therapy Can Help
  3. Understanding Family Therapy
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision