Families are the Frontline: Preventing, Treating and Recovering from Substance Use, Mental Disorders

by Liz Wu

Families can and do play an important role in preventing, treating and recovering from substance abuse. As part of the National Recovery Month‘s Road to Recovery video series, Ivette Torres (director for Consumer Affairs at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment) speaks with doctors, advocates and treatment providers to find out just how families can support their struggling loved ones.

Panelists answer the following questions:

  • How can family members recognize the signs of mental or substance use disorders in a family member? • What is the impact on the family when a family member has a substance use disorder?
  • What is the impact on children in the family when one or both parents have a mental or substance use disorder?
  • What is “family therapy” and why is it important to involve the family in treatment and recovery for mental or substance use disorders?
  • What challenges do families face in accessing behavioral health care services?
  • What resources are available to families to find health insurance coverage and low-cost care?
  • What other resources are available to families dealing with a mental or substance use disorder in a family member?

From the program’s description:

It is well understood that prevention, treatment, and recovery in behavioral health requires a multifaceted approach in which individuals, families, schools, and communities all play a vital role. This show will focus on one of these critical success factors—families. Whenever a family member is experiencing the mental or substance use health problem—parent or child—the response should involve the entire family. A strong family support environment is a proven protective factor in the prevention of mental or substance use disorders just as strong family support is critical in treatment and recovery. How can we break the cycle of addiction in which the child follows the parent into addictive behavior? Many children in foster care are in the foster home because of parental addiction; how can these children be best supported in leading healthy and productive lives? How can we break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and mental health outcomes? How can we educate families to provide the best support for a loved one experiencing a mental disorder? This show will cover a range of family-based approaches and programs that demonstrate the importance of families being on the frontline of behavioral health for all family members.

Watch the full program or read the transcript.


Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.