Family Therapy Programme at Abbeycare

Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

Family Therapy at Abbeycare, a realistic, compassionate, appropriate therapy for families and loved ones to recover in.

Families affected by their loved ones substance use problem are often left bewildered by the situation they have found themselves in.

The emotional condition of those supporting alcohol and drug users can be precarious. As families are swamped with emotions surrounding their loved ones actions. Family Therapy within Abbeycare (Scotland Clinic & Gloucester Clinic) has been designed to support those living with and/or caring for participants entering the Abbeycare Programme.

Support for families in a group setting allows for a safe, constructive and confidential place to listen and share common experiences. The groups are facilitated by a specialist recovery worker with many years of experience in family therapy.

Family Therapy Programme – Recovery For All

Family members do not want to believe their loved one has a problem. Known as denial this coping strategy is common amongst drug and alcohol users as well as family members.

The realisation usually occurs with the incidence of an unhappy event. That may appear suddenly and without any warning.

Identifying two commonalities between families and those using alcohol and drugs -  

Drug and Alcohol users:

  • Dependence to alcohol and drugs slowly creeps up on the substance user
  • Denial is used to minimise, blame or avoid the ‘problem’

Family Members and loved ones:

  • Realisation that a loved one has an issue with alcohol and drugs creeps up slowly
  • Denial is used to minimise or pretend the ‘problem’ doesn’t exist

Abbeycare is fully aware of the massive impact a loved one’s addiction has on the support network and have created a Family Therapy Programme to reduce the harms caused.

As the resident at Abbeycare recovers so do the family. This is also known as applying a therapeutic approach to the catastrophic effects of problematic substance use upon families i.e. Family Therapy Programme.

Family Therapy Programme - What to Expect?

Family Therapy is supportive and inclusive. This form of therapy has been designed to guide family members through the minefield of emotional attachment.

Emotional attachment forms a bond that is caring, loving, supportive and protective between both parties. If emotionally attached to a drug/alcohol user the lines between ‘caring for’ and ‘enabling’ are blurry.

Blurry lines create a distorted view of the situation. A loved one may feel inappropriate responsibility for the actions of their son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father and so on.

The Group Therapy Programme will help the family member sift through the debris and take what belongs to them and leave what doesn’t.

Areas considered in a family therapy programme –

  • Inappropriate guilt
  • Mis-placed loyalty
  • How to ‘love’ those in active addiction
  • Feelings and emotions
  • Co - Dependency
  • Identification with others in the same position
  • What to expect/do post-rehab

Inappropriate Guilt

Guilt is factual and is related to the act of actually committing an offence of various natures. Inappropriate Guilt is where no offence has been committed. However, the perception is to feel bad about a situation even though they had no part in, couldn’t control and it wasn’t actually their responsibility.

Inappropriate Guilt is not exclusive to substance use as it is a normal human emotion for those who have attachments to other human beings. Parents for example may instantly feel this emotion if their child conducts their self in a manner the parent deems unacceptable to society’s norms.

Family Therapy at Abbeycare will address inappropriate guilt allowing the family member to ‘let go’ of this emotion when considering their loved ones actions under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Mis-placed Loyalty

When a family member defends a loved one for the wrong reasons. Also known as ‘enabling’ the family member is compelled to defend their loved ones actions under the influence.

This creates a false environment as the substance user slips into denial. A denial precipitated by the defence of their actions. 

Again, relating to emotional connection and the family members need to protect their loved one. This ‘need’ can actually contribute towards the continued used of substances. As appropriate actions are not taken at the time of the offence.

How to ‘love’ those in active addiction

The lines can once again become blurred as a family member wrestles with ‘love’ for and ‘enabling’ of the person they love. What does this mean?

When concerned for another human beings welfare a family member may be inclined to accept situations that don’t feel right. In the belief that they are showing love to their children, spouse etc.

Family members can discuss in Family Therapy if their actions are actually supporting their loved ones to stop. Or enabling them to continue?

Feelings and Emotions

Human beings are driven in part by feelings or emotions. Here is some a family member may identify with:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Regret
  • Low mood
  • Anxiety

These emotions are negative and harmful to loved ones. These feelings can be expressed in the Family Therapy Programme in a safe and confidential way.

Family members realise its ok not to feel ok. And any feelings they may have are normal given the current situation.


In a co-dependent relationship each party assumes a role or identity. One is an empathetic care-giver the other is a needy-taker incapable of returning the care they so desperately seek for themselves.

The scales are out of balance. The more a family member tries to support their loved one the more the other party seems to take.

This can be an incredibly difficult situation to be removed from. Just like ‘enabling’ the care giver will try to fix the situation and may feel frustrated and let down when it doesn’t work.

Breaking Co-Dependency is vital for the recovery of both the substance user and their supporter. Building a healthier relationship with equal ‘give and take’ from both parties is the ultimate goal.

Identification with others in the same situation

Loving someone actively using drugs and/or alcohol can seem like a lonely place. This is in part due to the stigma surrounding drugs and alcohol.

Many loved ones are secretive about their children or spouses substance use as they are afraid of being judged.

This allows the situation to continue for longer periods of time as no interventions can occur from caring or trained professionals. And the secret remains a secret.

Letting people in who have a sound understanding of addiction can be the key to lifting all the negative emotions surrounding the situation. And moving into a solution.

Once a family member has realised they too need help. Abbeycare Family Therapy Programme will introduce them to a group setting comprised of those who are experiencing similar circumstances.

Identification with others in a safe, confidential and controlled environment will help the family member realise they are not alone and the feelings they are having are completely normal and appropriate. This can bring a welcomed sense of relief.

What to expect/do – Post Rehab

Coming home after a period of detox and rehabilitation can be a daunting experience. Not only for the resident at Abbeycare but also for the family.

The family may still be in shock, disbelief, anger or fear. Relationships can and will take time to improve. These feelings are to be expected. Family support at Abbeycare will prepare loved ones for these feelings so they don’t come as a surprise.

Family members will also be prepared for the aftercare programme that post-rehab residents are encouraged to implement. This involves attendance on the Aftercare group and community recovery groups.

Additional Community Based Family Support

Abbeycare is committed to supporting those involved in the care of residents on the programme. Due to this the Family Therapy Programme has been created. Just as the resident post-rehab is encouraged to attend the aftercare programme the family members can continue accessing support as well.

Here are some community-based resources:

Family members and loved ones are not alone they do and can recover.

Family Therapy Programme during Covid-19

Abbeycare has created a response to Covid-19 (see Coronavirus Support for People Struggling with Addiction). Currently Abbeycare has a No Visitor Policy this is to protect all concerned and stop the spread of the virus.

Residents can access their smartphones and devices and still in contact via these.

The Family Support Group will be currently being held online on a virtual platform. Abbeycare has been working virtually since March 2020 and has vast experience in delivering effective groups via this platform.

However, if unable to access virtual meetings the team will communicate with family members via a more accessible means such as telephones and emails.

Frequently Asked Questions

“I don’t feel I need Family Therapy do I need to go?”

In our experience family members gain from attending Family Therapy even its just for one session. Armed with new information surrounding the phenomenon of addiction family members will feel empowered and hopeful for the future.

Keeping an open mind and trying something that may bring benefits is certainly worthwhile. The facilitator with expert knowledge of family support and dynamics will be there to guide you along the way.

“Can children attend or is it just for adults?”

The Family Support Group is for adults. Attendees can approach the subject of how their children may be affected and techniques for talking to children will be discussed.

The web has many online resources and helplines for children affected by parental drug and alcohol use. Family members can research these and support their children to talk to professionals trained in this specific area.

“I don’t want my loved one to come home how do I tell them?”

An array of emotions is felt by all parties involved. If troubled by doubts and fear family members can call the Abbeycare team for sensitive and impartial advice.

If a decision is to be made relating to the residents safety or home life upon leaving rehab it is better to discuss this with the residents case manager.

Family members recognised by the resident will be given a telephone number to call when there loved one enters Abbeycare.

Attendance on the Family Therapy Programme will offer support to families experiencing difficult feelings and situations.

“What if they start to drink or use drugs when they come home?”

If family members begin to drink again quick, decisive action can be taken. Family members are encouraged to phone Abbeycare immediately to create an intervention.

Abbeycare staff can encourage attendance on the Aftercare Programme (See Aftercare) and assist them to stop before chemical dependence re-occurs.

“I can’t afford to send my loved one to rehab what should I do?”

Abbeycare has different options from long-term rehab to short-term rehab . Prices vary depending on duration of stay.

If you can’t afford to send your loved ones encourage them to read Abbeycares website which is full of interesting and beneficial articles on drug (drug rehab) and alcohol use (alcohol rehab).

Loved ones can also be encouraged to access community-based recovery resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous AA, Cocaine Anonymous CA and Narcotics Anonymous NA the information for all these organisations such as phone numbers and meetings can be found online.

The Family Therapy Programme at Abbeycare has been designed to help support family members directly affected by their loved ones drug and alcohol use.

Abbeycare is acutely aware of the devastating effects drug and alcohol use can have on families. These families sometimes feel alone and unsupported when dealing with the unforgiving nature of addiction.

Abbeycare has created a programme to alleviate the negative and consuming feelings and emotions that come along with loving a drug or alcohol user.

A common phrase ‘Love the person, hate the drugs or alcohol’ tries to explain the phenomenon of addiction.  The loved one still exists but the drugs have been in control.

Addiction to alcohol and drugs can affect every area of life from health, finances, relationships, jobs, children and peace of mind. Addiction is all consuming.

Therefore, recovery needs to be progressive and positive in its attempt to eliminate the desire to use substances harmful to health. Recovery involves freedom.

Recovery is available for anyone regardless of background, drug they choose to use or length of time they have used substances for. The cycle can be broken.

If you visualise yourself free from alcohol and drugs living a happy and productive life?

And wish to learn more about our Residential Treatment at Abbeycare or our Family Therapy Programme call our free 24/7 Helpline on 01603 513 091 or fill out the form below to speak to a trained addiction counsellor.

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