Family-Therapy Approach to Alcoholism and Addiction

Essay by pakistanimalangUniversity, Bachelor'sB, April 2006

download word file, 8 pages 4.0


Family therapy has made a substantial contribution to the prevention of drugaddiction. This approach takes fully into account psycho-social relationshipsin families, particularly in families experiencing addiction, as well aschanges in patterns of family life and in social attitudes towards addiction.Drug addiction is a manifestation of serious dysfunctional relationships andinteractions in the family and is often interrelated with child and spouseabuse. Such family situations require multidisciplinary therapy measures forwhich the family, with its network of relationships and behaviouralinteractions, rather than the individual alone, is regarded as the unit oftreatment.


In order to understand addiction, it is necessary not only to focus on its medical symptoms but also to examine theconstellation of behavioural interactions, reflective of psycho-socialdevelopment, in the context of the family, the community and widersocio-economic networks in which the family functions and to which the familyrelates. All these influence, stimulate and regulate individual behaviour. Thus, an important task of a therapist in the process of treating drug-addictedpersons is to gain insight into the subtle, overt and complex dynamics ofsocial interactions and not only into the psychodynamics of individuals.

The theory and concepts of family therapy, which came to be recognized as an independent discipline in the 1950 s, help therapists tounderstand these interaction [ 1] . Whereas classical medicine focuses on the treatment of individuals, family therapy regards the network of relationshipsin which the individual interacts as its unit of treatment. The family isregarded as a psychological unit, the internal processes of which helpestablish and maintain emotional balance [ 2] .

Until the middle of the 1970 s, many of those trying to cope with the syndrome of addiction largely relied on autodidactic methodsthat frequently had strong moral overtones. The International Council onAlcohol and Addictions (ICAA), which was founded in 1907 and is one of theoldest organizations...