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Addiction is a disease of contradictions. There is, of course, the duality of the affected individual’s compulsive need to use drugs or alcohol alongside their rational knowledge that their habits are not healthy or safe. There is also the contrast between addiction’s deeply isolating effects and the toll that addiction can take on an individual’s family, friends and loved ones. On one hand, the person struggling with addiction feels increasingly alone, and pushes away those closest to them through their actions. On the other hand, the choices that the addicted individual makes will impact those around them, no matter how isolated they feel. Addiction is therefore both an isolating disease and a family disease — a contradiction that many recovery programs seek to rectify though specialized family programming.

At Riverside Recovery, we know the importance of understanding the interplay between addiction and family dynamics, as well as the importance of incorporating these principles into treatment whenever appropriate. Our Family Program is among the top family-oriented addiction recovery programs in the Tampa area. We are dedicated to including our clients’ loved ones in treatment. We offer a means of repairing essential bonds while giving family members a chance to pursue their own healing. Our goal is to help our clients and their families — both biological and chosen families — heal together and grow together, overcoming addiction as a unified team with strategies to maintain a lifestyle that is healthier for everyone moving forward. Call us today at (800) 871-5440 to learn more about our Family Program and our other options for addiction treatment in Tampa, Florida. 

How Can Family Affect Addiction and Recovery?

Individuals who struggle with addiction frequently have complicated relationships with family members and loved ones. There are typically two central family issues we encounter with our clients: first, family relationships that are strained due to the individual’s addiction; and second, individuals with a problematic family history.

Damaged Family Relationships

Men and women who struggle with addiction act in ways that, from the outside, seem selfish and even deliberately hurtful. Although the reality is much more complex, those who are close to an addicted individual will still feel the effects of their loved one behaving in harmful and dangerous ways. The strain frequently breaks down key relationships between parents, children, spouses, siblings and close friends. It causes rifts between other family members who may feel as though they need to “take a side,” who may disagree about boundaries or who may not understand the disease of addiction. Addiction can also cause financial or legal problems that affect families and future generations.

Family members can also become enabling of addiction, even those who mean well and are only trying to help or keep their loved one safe. Always being the designated driver when a spouse gets too drunk to drive home; sharing prescription medications with a parent who complains of anxiety or pain; supplying money for food or rent for a sibling who has lost their job due to drug use — these all seem benign, but only serve to allow the addicted individual to escape the consequences of substance abuse.

Family History

While issues do often arise as a result of the individual’s substance abuse, we also treat many clients who turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with a difficult family history or home life. Family-related triggers like childhood trauma or neglect, domestic abuse, divorce or the loss of a loved one can all serve as underlying reasons for substance misuse and addiction.

In addition, recent studies have shown a genetic link indicating that a high risk of developing a mental illness or addiction could be hereditary. While genetics cannot predetermine whether a person will become addicted to drugs or alcohol later in life, this link creates a problematic combination of increased risk and a higher likelihood of a parent who struggles with addiction or mental health concerns.

Family-Based Therapy in the Recovery Process

Several studies have proven that involving the appropriate friends and family members in the recovery process leads to better outcomes for the client. Repairing broken family bonds gives men and women in recovery a strong, loving support system and also provides healing and peace of mind for affected family members. Family therapy teaches both clients and their loved ones to set healthy boundaries, which helps avoid ineffective ultimatums and enabling while setting realistic expectations and limitations for the affected individual. 

Addressing family issues can also help clients heal from family-related trauma. For individuals with a difficult family past, it’s essential to use family therapy practices to understand how their family life has shaped who they are today. Family programming can also help these clients learn to build a new, healthy family, whether blood-related or not, by discovering the people in their life who are ready to be loving and supportive.

What to Expect From Family Therapy at Riverside Recovery 

The Family Program at Riverside Recovery is designed to accompany our full- and part-time treatment programs. When a client enrolls in our residential, day/night or outpatient programs, they become eligible to participate in the Family Program if they have supportive family members who can travel to our Tampa facility for regularly scheduled family therapy sessions and other family events. We are inclusive of anyone that our clients consider family members, regardless of blood relation, so long as they are supportive and positive influences in our clients’ lives. Our program includes:

  • A three-day experiential family workshop led by our Director of Family Services and Licensed Family Therapists offered once per month
  • For residential clients (or outpatient clients on a case-by-case basis), two 50-minute family therapy sessions during their 30-day stay
  • For both inpatient and outpatient clients, Wednesday evening (7:00 PM to 8:30 PM) and Sunday morning (10:30 AM to 12:00 PM) family group sessions
  • Sunday afternoon visitation hours from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM (family members must attend at least one Wednesday or Sunday session to attend visitation each week) 

Family programming is not mandatory, but we do strongly encourage participation for clients whose families are nearby. Our clients and their loved ones frequently cite this aspect of our programming as one of the most impactful components of their successful recovery. Our highly trained, specialized Family Program staff works tirelessly to help each client and their family restore trust, love and hope to their lives through a variety of therapeutic topics and activities. Family Program sessions may include:

  • Psychoeducation about the disease and neuroscience of addiction
  • Setting boundaries
  • Support vs. enabling
  • Communication skills
  • Ongoing support systems for clients and family members

Our goal is to create a safe, supportive and structured environment that fosters personal growth and responsibility. We help families work toward their goals in recovery; not only in individual family units, but also as a broader Tampa-area community for individuals in recovery and their loved ones.

Meet Our Family Program Director

Louise Wallowitz, LMHC, CAP

Louise has 30 years of experience in counseling and over 25 years of experience in family therapy, and she continues to prove her commitment to helping families heal every day. She has been deeply rooted in the Tampa-area recovery community for over two decades, and has an unparalleled reputation for excellence in substance abuse family counseling. She leads our Family Program with a level of expertise and compassion that is unmatched in Tampa and beyond.

Family Therapy in Tampa, Florida at Riverside Recovery

Riverside Recovery provides compassionate, high-quality treatment for adult men and women who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, as well as individuals who have a co-occurring addiction and mental health disorder. Our Tampa, Florida facility is located on the banks of the Hillsborough River and provides a soothing, peaceful environment for both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment. Our residential, day/night and outpatient programs offer exceptional resources and personalized care, focusing on the individual, their background and their needs for effective, sustainable recovery. If you or someone close to you needs treatment for substance abuse, please reach out to us at (800) 871-5440 to learn more or to start the admissions process. Our helpful team is available to answer your questions about our Family Program or any of the other services we provide.