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How To Get A Loved One Help

 Question: My family has experienced some significant challenges in recent years, mostly due to my brother’s addiction to drugs and alcohol. He has tried therapy on his own, but it didn’t seem to really help him. I’m wondering if we should look into therapy as a family, but I don’t really know how that works if someone isn’t ready to give up an addiction. I’d love some feedback.

Mary Sanger, M.A., LMFT-S, LPC-S, LCDC: What a great question and one that so many people wonder about. I would strongly suggest that you and your family consider doing some therapy together. In my experience, if there is one member of the family with substance use issues than the family is both affected by and is affecting this member of the family. It often helps the individual come to terms with the reality of their circumstances when other family members express love and concern. A skilled family therapist can help the family look at multi-generational effects on the system, encourage each family member to take a look at how they might have their own opportunities for growth, and hold individuals accountable for holding to commitments to change. In a safe and protected environment of the therapy room, family members are not blamed, shamed, or coerced into making changes. How wonderful it is that your brother has such a willing family for support. I applaud you all.