Family Systems

Healing the Family System

Family Systems

There's a growing body of evidence suggesting that addiction and codependence are trans-generational diseases. That is to say, there are both hereditary and environmental factors that predispose people to chemical (drug, alcohol) and non-chemical (food, work, caretaking) addictions. The effects are felt for many generations.

How life’s pain and problems affect families.

A family is like a kaleidoscope made up of varied parts that tumble around and reconfigure themselves endlessly. When one part shifts, the whole picture changes. On a daily basis, stressful events occur that can alter the family kaleidoscope: job loss, unexpected illness, political unrest, natural disasters, death, divorce, addiction, abuse, etc. Such circumstances shift the balance and throw the members off course. When one member of a family is affected by stressful events, every member is impacted.

The presence of addiction or illness (mental or physical) in a family member is a classic example. Everyone who loves the suffering person becomes consumed with worry. Experts say that family systems are literally dominated by the sickest member. The person closest to the troubled individual becomes obsessed with that person's problems. This leads to compulsive efforts to control and manage the out-of-control situation. Other family members are robbed—not just of a normal relationship with the identified patient (the "addict")-but also of the time and attention of the caregiver(s). If an older brother is addicted to drugs, his younger siblings can’t have a normal relationship with him. They are also deprived of their fair share of their parents’ time and attention. Similarly, if a mother is obsessed with fixing her alcoholic spouse, her children are emotionally neglected. The children lose both of their parents—one to addiction, one to codependence.

Research indicates that for every addict/alcoholic, four or more other persons—usually immediate family members—are adversely affected. The long-range consequences are profound. The affected persons become depressed, develop anxiety disorders, act out in self-harming or suicidal ways, or engage in socially unacceptable behavior.

Such tragic outcomes might be prevented if the affected individuals had an opportunity to focus on the confusion, fear, pain, and losses they are suffering in a safe place, to treat their wounds, and to develop healthy coping skills. Innocent family members deserve guidance and direction in living normal, healthy lives, whether or not the addict, alcoholic, or mentally ill individual seeks help for his/her problem.

We encourage family members to attend our program to address their suffering and pain.  We have had many cases of multiple family members from the same family unit attend our program.  Please call us today if you would like further information about how The Bridge is also ideal for family members.