A longer program of treatment also allows time for patients to address aspects of their lives that may have contributed to the continuation of addiction. One of the more common elements that people in recovery dig into is their family dynamic. Addiction itself is commonly referred to as a family disease. Even though addiction may only chemically affect the individual who is physically using, the entire family system is ultimately affected as well.
Within a family system, there is a level of balance or homeostasis between family members. When addiction takes a toll on one or more members, that homeostasis tends to become imbalanced. Ironically, just as an individual’s brain chemistry adjusts to accommodate their addiction, a family system will also often adjust to accommodate a family member’s addictive behaviors.
For example, a parent suffering from active addiction is unlikely to be able to function effectively in a parental capacity. In response to this reality, the addict’s partner may compensate by taking on additional parental roles as a way of maintaining order within the family’s structure. A new, unhealthy familial homeostasis soon emerges.
Once circumstances devolve to a point where the addicted individual becomes aware that they need help, another unavoidable change to the family system occurs. The struggling addict is now receiving treatment, the recovery process has started, however, the addict’s family homeostasis often continues to be imbalanced and unhealthy.
If a patient is going to achieve long-term sobriety, it is important that the family imbalances during active addiction are addressed and set right during treatment.
Working with a patient to change familial patterns and set them on a course toward healthy homeostasis cannot be achieved quickly. Healing and changing takes time, dedication, effort, commitment, and ultimately a lot of patience. Moreover, a patient’s psychological, biological, and brain-chemistry must first come back into balance before familial therapy can begin.
If the restoration of familial balance does not begin to occur during a patient’s treatment stay, it is highly unlikely that the patient will achieve long-term sobriety post-treatment.
In other words, a patient does themselves and their families a disservice by expecting that a shorter treatment length of stay will be effective in treating their addiction and all the suffering it has caused.