The theories regarding the cause of substance abuse vary but people believe there are elements of both nature and nurture involved. While the biological processes in the brain can be part of the equation, there is also a genetic predisposition for some people who struggle with addiction. Yet others believe there is also myriad environmental factors that play a role, including family of origin.
Nature Versus Nurture
A person’s family of origin has a lot to do with the challenges and trauma that come with coping mechanisms as a young teen or adult. Substance abuse is a complex array of issues, but the family of origin is where emotional regulation is learned, where communication skills grow, and where needs are almost always met (or not) and people learn moral values and beliefs. Dysfunction within a family can include absence of nurturing, abuse, addiction, disruptive patterns of behavior, or issues which hinder a child’s emotional development. Later in life, these may manifest in:
- Substance abuse issues
- Difficulty with relationships
- Trouble with boundaries
- Difficulty coping with life’s challenges
When parents struggle with chemical dependency, substance abuse issues, or neglect, this can translate to a child feeling the same way. Food, shopping, substances, and other means can be a way that children who felt out of control as children find ways of coping as teens and adults. With recovery, it begins to emerge that these issues are a challenge which need to be addressed. Perhaps it is boundaries, abandonment issues, attachment disorders, or other things, but it can also manifest in mental health issues, which can in turn lead to substance abuse disorders. Healthy relationships require family of origin therapy oftentimes to address underlying issues within the family that may have led, in part, to addiction and substance use.
Family of Origin Therapy
Family of origin treatment focuses on treating underlying issues from within the family structure that contributed to substance use disorders and mental health issues. Some great resources to find support for this include:
- Adult Children of Alcoholics: a 12- step fellowship group dedicated to helping people live with more purpose and power after having grown up around alcoholism and addiction
- Family of origin therapist: helps identify and resolve unresolved family of origin issues. Common issues involve communication, difficulty with trust, fear of rejection, or communication phobias
- Individual therapy: working out the issues with a therapist who specializes in family trauma and issues from within that structure
- Group therapy: either with the family or with others who understand these issues, working out family of origin issues in a way that best supports growth and healing from dysfunctional family of origin challenges
A treatment program for addiction can also address family of origin issues along with other mental health and psychological reasons for addiction to occur. It is important to make sure a treatment program is holistic and supports a well-rounded approach to co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health issues, along with encouraging family engagement throughout the process as they are important for sobriety and recovery.
A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.