Dahlia Foundation Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation & De-Addiction Centre, Mumbai

Addiction Blog

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The importance of family counseling in the rehabilitation process

Usage of addictive substances like drugs and alcohol leads to several discords, misunderstandings and resentments between the addict and his/her family. These wounds are further deepened when the family takes a decision to place a person for treatment in a alcohol rehabilitation centre or a drug rehabilitation centre. Family counseling at the rehabilitation centre is aimed towards repairing this damage and smoothing out relationships.

This article emphasizes the importance of Family counseling at our Rehabilitation Center. The process may vary at other centers.

At the outset or the rehabilitation process, a patient is generally not allowed to meet the family in person with the family for a period of 45 to 60 days. There are good reasons for this. The patient may misinform or emotionally manipulate the family during this process. The addict does so because he/she is going through trauma - the discomfort of physical withdrawal and a change in surroundings creates some amount of psychological upheaval in the patient. It could start out with a feeling of resentment towards the family, moving on to the guilt factors, to thoughts of escape and worse the wrong that the treatment process is a permanent cut-off from family ties all surrounds the patient.

Over the first month, the withdrawal symptoms diminish. This leads to a clearer thinking process and the patient comes to terms with the surroundings, the schedules, the diet and the people around. This is when the patient minds opens up, he/she shares experiences with the peer group and the counselors at the rehabilitation centre. He/she realizes that it's a treatment process which he/she is going through and starts understanding the family's point of view over the second month.

However, in reality, family counseling has already began in the background right from day one.  The family is made aware of the nuances and the challenges of staying out of contact with the dear one. Over the two months the family is kept updated on the patient's progress on a regular basis by the counselors at the rehabilitation centre.

Depending on the patient's progress, the patient is slowly allowed telephonic conversations with the family members anywhere within 30 to 60 days. After 60 days the family may visit the rehabilitation center, say once a month for the next two months. The first one or two meetings can be highly emotional. 

During the first meeting the counselor of the rehabilitation centre will meet the family alone first. The objective is to get a deeper insights into the patient's past addictive and behavioral patterns. Then the family may meet the patient in presence of the counselor. If the family requests, they can spend a few private minutes with the patient also.

The objectives of the meetings of the family, counselors and the patient at the rehabilitation centre are -

  • Help the patient understand the true feelings, love and concerns of the family
  • Resolve any old open issues and dissolve resentments on the patient's side.
  • Set realistic expectations of the family from the patient once he/she returns home. The family must be communicated that they should understand that the patient should be given a month or two on return before he/she starts achieving social and economic recovery . Also, all kinds of conflicts (if they occur) must be handled delicately especially in the first few months.

In summary, Family Counseling is a key stepping stone in the patient's permanent recovery. And at Dahlia Foundation we give utmost importance to it.



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