Whole-Family Healing: The Importance of Family-Focused Care in Adolescent Substance Use Treatment

Substance use disorder is a serious and complex condition...

James Ekbatani
April 2, 2024

Substance use disorder is a serious and complex condition that affects many teenagers. The types of substances that teens may struggle with can range from alcohol and nicotine to illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and opioids. Addiction can have significant impacts on both the individual struggling with substance use disorder and their loved ones.

It can affect the individual's physical and mental health, leading to problems such as poor decision-making, impaired judgment, and an increased risk of accidents or overdose. Addiction can also impact family members and friends, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety, and helplessness as they watch their loved one struggle.

It's important to remember that addiction is a disease, and both the individual and their loved ones may need professional help and support to overcome it. However, with the correct kind of support and a whole family approach, everyone in the family can heal together if they communicate effectively.

This is a main pillar in the Lotus Behavioral Health philosophy: whole family healing through family-focused care. What is unique about Lotus Behavioral Health is that we have an onsite Director of Family Services, Michele Guzman, who keeps families involved throughout their teenager’s time at our teen residential treatment center.

Family-focused care

Family-focused care emphasizes the importance of involving the entire family in the adolescent substance use treatment program. This approach recognizes that mental health conditions can impact the entire family and seeks to address the needs of both the individual and their family members.

“I’m usually the first person parents or guardians talk to when they begin the process at Lotus. In that first phone call I have with them, I always assure them that they are not alone. As a Mom on a Mission, I understand what they are going through. Together, we work through insurance coverage, and I negotiate on their behalf as an advocate for families. I know how important it is for teenagers with substance use to receive this level of care, and I will do what I can to help their child get it,” Michele Guzman, Director of Family Services, said.

Family therapy

Part of our adolescent substance use treatment programs, Lotus Behavioral Health requires family therapy sessions. One of the key benefits of family therapy for teenagers struggling with substance use is that it supports the entire family’s healing. Family therapy can help family members better understand the nature of addiction as a disease.

Awareness and understanding is the first step in a family supporting their teenager in their recovery. When members of the family are honest and open to communicating, these therapy sessions help address any family dynamics or issues that may be affecting the teenager’s environment. Our licensed therapists use evidence- based practices in a whole-family approach to identify sensitive topics and address the needs of everyone involved.

“Family therapy sessions aren’t a place for family members to complain about each other. Kids could be triggered by major life changes, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one, and transitions that dysregulate their emotions. The goal of the family therapy sessions is to determine the problems at hand. Only when we start talking about these things is when we can start to work through these possible triggers together and reduce the impact it has on the entire family,” Guzman said.

Whole Family Approach to Substance Use Treatment

To make sure patients and their families get the best care, Lotus Behavioral Health believes that our whole family approach yields the best way to recovery. Understanding the family as a whole allows the therapists to communicate and collaborate with them to involve them in discussions about care. Doing this allows the therapist to learn more about the patient and their needs at home.

Families can also help by sharing information that the patient may not have revealed themselves. It is important that when a patient successfully completes our residential program, the family is committed to creating a safe and healthy environment at home for their teenager to heal.

“I will reach out to the families as the discharge date gets closer. We discuss what the retransition into the new normal will be like. It is important to focus on the teenager’s needs and what they have learned in the process. The whole family must continue to work with the tools they’ve learned moving forward. Everyone has to change. There is no magic wand to fix their child. It requires the whole family to work together to heal together,” Guzman said.

Faith over Fear NarAnon group

Michele Guzman also leads the Faith over Fear NarAnon group every Wednesday at 6:30pm at Lotus Behavioral Health. This support group is available both in-person and virtually through Zoom. NarAnon is a 12-step program tailored for individuals who have family members or friends struggling with addiction. The group offers a safe space where individuals can connect with others who have similar experiences and seek support and understanding for their feelings of anxiety, fear, and anger.

Whole-family healing is an essential aspect of the adolescent substance use treatment. Addiction can create a ripple effect, impacting not only the individual but also their loved ones. Family-focused care acknowledges that treating the individual alone is insufficient; it is crucial to address the entire family dynamic to support the patient's long-term recovery.

By involving the entire family in the treatment process, family-focused care helps family members understand addiction as a disease, develop healthier communication, and identify and address any issues that may have contributed to the teenager's substance use.

Family therapy provides a safe and supportive space for families to work through their challenges together and promote healing. Furthermore, by involving the family in the substance use treatment, they become an integral part of the recovery process, providing ongoing support and accountability for the individual's long-term success. Ultimately, our whole-family approach recognizes that addiction affects the entire family and empowers the family to work together toward healing and recovery.

Our family healing yours.
Visit our website or call (833) 884-7246 to speak to Michele today about receiving services for your child.