In this context the term family can apply to many different types of extended network of people in the life of an alcoholic.
The type of family set up is not particularly important, what is more important is that there is a huge area of recovery that exists alongside that of an alcoholic, which may or may not be properly addressed if an alcoholic goes into a rehab.
The family of an alcoholic, when entering a rehab will often have huge expectations about what is likely to happen.
These expectations will normally focus on the alcoholic and and quite often a hope that the alcoholic will get sober, and that when they have left a rehab life will be as it once was, and that everything will be pleasantville.
Not wishing to be a merchant of doom, it is important for the family to recognise a couple of important factors concerning the nature of alcoholism once an alcoholic is in rehab. Hopefully a rehab will address these issues, but it is possible they may not fully do so.
It is often important for the alcohol to have space away from the people who have been a part of his or her life in the buildup to them entering a rehab.
This physical aspect of separation is actually one of the main benefits for people being in a rehab. It will give both sides a physical space and distance apart with each side going that the alcoholic is in a safe place that can give them a breather.
The time spent in a rehab should also be a time when both sides can prepare for what happens after an alcoholic leaves a rehab.
Unrealistic expectations are often a real cause of problems both for the alcoholic and for the family, once an alcoholic has left a rehab. Having an understanding of how they have been affected prior to the alcoholic going into a rehab will help the family cope much better afterwards.
The real issue as far as this approach is concerned, is for the family members to really be aware of and to own the fact that they have been affected by the alcoholic.
This means a huge shift in the emotional focus of the family members of an alcoholic whilst they are in a rehab. It means that a family has to remove away from a position where they blame the alcoholic for what has happened to them and their lives, and the fact that they in some ways are accountable for what has happened to them.
This is in many ways a huge deal, as it necessitates a complete emotional turnaround for family members of an alcoholic, whilst in a rehab. It may take a long time for family members to really understand this or begin to agree with such an approach.
Hopefully a rehab will have a number of so-called family days where they bring the family into the treatment process, and begin to help them understand the nature of alcoholism, as it has affected the alcoholic in their lives, and how it has affected them as well.
A rehab will open a door that can help remove unlikely expectations, and help both sides gain an awareness of the reality of the situation that can help them genuinely heal past hurts and be able to grow in a healthy way towards their own individual futures.