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COUC 601 Theories of Family Systems

Published : 07-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


Write about the involvement of family in relation to substance use disorders.

Be sure to address the following questions:

In what way is the family a system of roles?

How do family systems vary from culture to culture?

What interventions can counselors conduct when working with families that have an adolescent suffering from a substance use disorder?



Substance use disorder (SUD) is associated with a number of medical, psychiatric, psychological, spiritual, economic social, family and legal complications, which is in turn is one of the significant burden for the families along with the affected individuals (Elliott, Huizinga & Menard, 2012).

This report mainly emphasizes on the roles of the family concerning the members under the influence of SUD. This report elaborates on the types of families, including the varying of the roles and responsibilities, as well as the interventions, which can be performed by the counselors when working with such families with individuals suffering from SUD.

The purpose of this report is to understand and analyze the roles of the families based on the hierarchy and its diversification along with the procedures that is adopted by the counselors in treating members undergoing influence from SUD, from such families.

The way in which family is a system of roles

 The family has an essential role in the handling of any kind of health related issues, which also includes substance abuse. The work of family has become even stronger and has been continued as one of the themes of many treatment approaches and procedures. The system role of family has been used to address the interdependence of the nature of the family relationships. The focus of family therapy is the intervention of the complex rational patterns and the alteration of the complications in ways to bring about a positive change for the entire family (Merikangas & McClair, 2012). However, it is utmost necessary to understand the complex roles of the family as a system of roles, in the substance uses disorder (Mental & Office of the Surgeon General (US), 2016). The roles can be a source of help in the treatment of the complications. Nonetheless, the roles also need to address to the consequences of the member’s addictive behavior. The family plays its part in meeting the challenges of working together, which calls for the mutual understanding, flexibility and many adjustments.

Variations in the family system in diverse cultures

There is no definite characterization of family, although different cultures and belief systems influence its definition since it is the cultures, which alters and transforms the system from time to time. The families can be diversified into varied and broad categories which includes most of the families.

  • The traditional families, which comprises of the heterosexual couples ( couple of parents and minor kids all under the same roof), single parents and families that includes blood relations, adoptive families and foster relationships.
  • Extended families, includes the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and other relatives. This is joint family.
  • The elective families, which is usually self-identified and made out of choice, not by the common ties of blood, matrimony and legal bindings. In some cases, the elective families are more important and vital from the biological families. For example, a youth who prefers to live more in the peer group and conceives it as a family. Godfathers and other non-biological related individuals, having emotional bonding and living under the same roof.

Based on the classification and the identification, the idea and the diversification  of families can be justified by not just the relativity with the blood but also the alliance and the emotional bonding, which is comparatively stronger that the other bonds (Walters & Rotgers, 2012).

Interventions by the counselors in cases of members under influence of substance use disorder

The components of comprehensive treatment for the substance use disorder include a variety of professional addiction and related services such as assessment, detoxification, rehabilitation, counseling and therapy along with management and support programs. The social families can be addressed using familial, child, and vocational, mental, medical, legal, financial, as well as residential services in the treatment (Walters & Rotgers, 2012). The family interventions by the counselors can in turn help the family influence or exert pressure in the members suffering from SUD to enter into counseling or treatment and get help to recover themselves from the addiction. This in turn would help the family support the members with SUD and address their own reactions to the problem (Gurman, Lebow & Snyder, 2015).  The families can be imparted with knowledge on SUD along with the treatment and recovery challenges for the members with SUD. The interventions thus help impart facilities, which can help the families to address the questions and concerns as well as help improve communications. The counselor or the therapist ensures that the families express their own emotional burden or constraints, which can interfere with the recovery process. This procedure of intervention gradually helps improve the environment with cooperation and supports, in turn helping the individual recover from the crisis and never retorting back to the same (Nathan & Gorman, 2015).


With the help of this report, it can concluded that families are one of the integral part and has one of the significant roles in the mitigation process of substance use disorder.  Families have one of the biggest contributions since, it is the family, which equally dedicates and helps its member in the withdrawal and the recovery from substance use disorder. Therapists and counselors use, family therapy as one of the crucial tools to treat the individuals, undergoing a critical phrase, in the influence of substance use disorder.


Elliott, D. S., Huizinga, D., & Menard, S. (2012). Multiple problem youth: Delinquency, substance use, and mental health problems. Springer Science & Business Media.

Gurman, A. S., Lebow, J. L., & Snyder, D. K. (Eds.). (2015). Clinical handbook of couple therapy. Guilford Publications.

Mental, H. S. A. U., & Office of the Surgeon General (US. (2016). Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General's report on alcohol, drugs, and health.

Merikangas, K. R., & McClair, V. L. (2012). Epidemiology of substance use disorders. Human genetics, 131(6), 779-789.

Nathan, P. E., & Gorman, J. M. (Eds.). (2015). A guide to treatments that work. Oxford University Press.

Walters, S. T., & Rotgers, F. (Eds.). (2012). Treating substance abuse: Theory and technique. Guilford Press.

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