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Family Counseling

Family Addiction Counseling Center Boston MA

Here, we start with a not so obvious rule:

Family counseling does not involve the physical presence of the substance use disorder individual.

More importantly, it makes an even more valuable assumption:

Substance use disorder is a family disease, hardly limited to the addict.

Every member of the family has caught the disease, that is. The symptoms are invisible, unlike the arrests, job firings, and public humiliation events that often highlight the addict's consequences.

Family addiction Counseling will bring to light the degree to which one individual's active disease has infiltrated the shared values and actions of the family unit.

It will also involve moving towards consensus, as disagreement over the following points is all but guaranteed:


A thorny category that often exposes both the denial of the substance use disorder individual's diagnosis and often more divisibly an active substance use disorder of another family member, Family Counseling will raise the following points:

Should alcohol or drugs, including marijuana and addictive quality prescription medications be excluded from all family events, and furthermore inaccessible (read, medicine cabinets) per the family members hosting those events?

Should family members agree to training around Narcan, a potentially life-saving overdose reverser, and would they agree to carry it?

Should family members agree to change household locks and keys in the event of ongoing theft by the substance disorder individual?

Should family members agree to pursue a Section 35, court-ordered involuntary commitment from a local district court judge with the next relapse?


Certain buzzwords tend to dominate discussions in Family Addiction Counseling and lend themselves to pursuit of consensus.

Enabling. Family counseling should always broach the fine line between caring and enabling. Family members must be prepared to thoughtfully flush out their feelings on this critical issue that often is the most contentious.

Detaching. Family Counseling should always discuss when, how, and how much. An experienced counselor will arbitrate around detachment with love.

Joining. ALANON must be a recommendation. There are other groups, as well, devoted to the mission of supporting families who have an active substance use disorder member and one in recovery.

Celebrating. Enjoying the fruits of a person's recovery should always be a shared family experience. A trained family counseling facilitator will always emphasize the importance of anniversaries of each season's sober date.


With the possible exception of a blunt professional counselor, no one is more annoying to the substance disorder individual than a family member who has not become educated about addiction. Alanon is an obvious start, but one can also enlist the wide spectrum of seminars on the subject.

Or, family members can take an even bolder step, one that this space encourages:

Hire a fee-for-service addiction counselor who is also a person in long term recovery. The discussion would be a third-person account of the risks and rewards, motivations and fear, and daily methods of operation of a typical "addict."

Lest we default to reactive therapy, its prudent to wrap another element into family counseling, one too often missed in the light of stigma and denial.

Family addiction Counseling is as much about preemptive strikes as reactive measures. Our society has not met its responsibility to preventing addiction before it happens. While human curiosity too often trumps the warnings about predisposition and the travels of DNA, effective family addiction counseling can prevent relapse.


To meaningfully engage a substance disorder individual is to understand that memory of the pain and the fantasy of moderation "officiate" recovery or relapse, dependent on which is predominant. And, to empathize is to understand that while DNA is not a choice, recovery or relapse most certainly is.

Indeed, Family Addiction Counseling plays an important in an underestimated endeavor.

The recovery of the Family.

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