Family Program Philosophy

Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family system. It is therefore important that all family members have an opportunity to gain information and knowledge about the disease.

The Family Program at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation provides family members the opportunity, with both education and support, to begin their own journey of healing and recovery from the impact of alcohol or drug addiction. Recovery is stronger than the disease and works most effectively when all family members are involved.

Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family system. It is therefore important that all family members have an opportunity to gain information and knowledge about the disease. It is also important for all family members to receive support for their own recovery process.

The three "C's" of this disease apply not only to the person who is addicted, but to his or her family members as well. The three "C's" are:

  • You did not cause it
  • You cannot control it
  • You cannot cure it

We believe it is important for families to learn how alcohol and drug addiction has impacted their lives. During their stay in the Family Program, parents,  or caregivers and siblings are shown how they have suffered some of the same symptoms of addiction as their loved one. It is also important for families to learn about what they have control over and what they do not. We believe that family members have control over themselves, their own behaviors and attitudes, and their own recovery. They also have control over how they spend their financial resources, allocate resources, and determine what is acceptable behavior in their home. We discuss how to let go of taking responsibility for the addicted person's disease and their recovery process.

By the time most family members arrive, they often need to relearn how to focus energy into themselves and their significant relationships because all their energy has been focused on the addicted person. Often this is referred to as "Detaching with Love" which can be described as choosing to be in relationship with someone you love and care for without losing yourself in the relationship. It means not doing for others what they need to do for themselves. It means loving the person not his or her behaviors.

Learning these new beliefs and behaviors is not a quick, easy task. That is why it is important for family members to get involved in their own Twelve Step program, such as Al-Anon or Families Anonymous. The Twelve Steps are suggested tools to help build healthy relationships with self, others and the world. Attendance at Twelve Step meetings can help provide the on-going support family members need to continue to use the skills learned during the Family Program.

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