Lantana Recovery
A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Family Systems and Recovery

Jump to Section

Substance use can have a significant impact on family systems, and addressing these issues can
be an important part of the recovery process. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways in
which substance use can affect families, as well as strategies for addressing these issues as part
of recovery.

What are family systems issues in substance use recovery?

Family systems issues refer to the patterns of behavior and interactions within a family that can
contribute to or be impacted by substance use. These patterns can include communication
styles, roles within the family, and rules for behavior. When a family member is struggling with
substance use, these patterns can be disrupted and cause conflicts and challenges within the

Some common family systems issues that may arise during substance use recovery include:

  • Codependency: This refers to a pattern of unhealthy behaviors in which a person
    becomes overly responsible for the well-being of another person, often at the expense
    of their own needs. In the context of substance use recovery, codependency can occur
    when a family member tries to “fix” the person with the substance use disorder,
    enabling their behavior or covering up for them.
  • Enabling behaviors: Enabling behaviors are actions that allow someone to continue
    using substances without facing consequences. Examples of enabling behaviors include
    making excuses for the person’s behavior, paying for their substances, or ignoring their
    substance use.
  • Dysfunctional communication: Substance use can lead to poor communication within a
    family, with members avoiding difficult conversations or resorting to criticism, blame, or
  • Role confusion: Substance use can disrupt the usual roles and responsibilities within a
    family, leading to confusion about who is responsible for what. For example, a parent
    who is struggling with substance use may be unable to fulfill their usual responsibilities,
    leading to other family members taking on additional roles to compensate.
  • Boundary issues: Substance use can lead to a lack of healthy boundaries within a family.
    For example, a family member with a substance use disorder may violate the
    boundaries of other family members by borrowing money or stealing from them.

family systems and recovery

How can these issues be addressed in substance use recovery?

Addressing family systems issues is an important part of the recovery process, as these issues
can contribute to the development and maintenance of substance use disorders. Here are some
strategies for addressing these issues:

  • Seek support: It can be helpful to seek support from a therapist or support group, such
    as Al-Anon (for family members of someone with a substance use disorder) or Co-
    Dependents Anonymous. These resources can provide guidance on how to address
    family systems issues and learn healthy coping strategies.
  • Practice open and honest communication: Open and honest communication is essential
    for addressing family systems issues. This may involve setting boundaries, learning to
    express needs and feelings in a healthy way, and having difficult conversations about
    substance use and recovery.
  • Establish healthy boundaries: Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is an
    important aspect of recovery for both the person with the substance use disorder and
    the family. This may involve setting limits on certain behaviors or establishing rules for
    communication and interaction
  • Seek individual therapy: Individual therapy can be helpful for addressing personal issues
    that may be contributing to family systems issues. This may include addressing
    codependency, improving communication skills, or learning to set and maintain
  • Engage in family therapy: Family therapy can be a useful tool for addressing family
    systems issues and improving communication and relationships within the family. This
    may involve working with a therapist to identify patterns of behavior and learn new
    ways of interacting with each other.

Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

Related Articles
Chat with us
We’re here to help you or your loved one on their path to sobriety

Chat with us.

Reach out now and join our supportive community

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.