We think it is only the addict that is “sick” when, in fact, addiction affects a family in its entirety. The individual who is diagnosed with a substance use disorder does play the role of the Addict and other family members and loved ones begin to develop parts to play around the disease. These roles are often unconsciously taken on. Just as the addict may be coping with their emotions through drugs or alcohol, family members may handle the addiction through developing familial roles. Unfortunately, partaking in these roles can hinder recovery for both the person suffering from addiction as well as for the entire family.

Roles in Addiction: Each Family Member Plays Their Part

So, what do the other people tend to do that makes it so that the disease also affects them? The Addict becomes the primary focus of attention. Typically, one family member wants onlookers to believe everything on the home front is normal. This individual is labeled as “the Hero”. The Hero pretends that the problem, as well as the familial roles, are not happening. They are typically perfectionists and help shield other disappointment and emotional pain. Fear, guilt, and shame tend to fuel this character.

If you think back, can you recall the class clown from your primary school? Families dealing with addiction have one of these within their dynamics as well: the Mascot. This role tends to share unfitting jokes regarding those involved in the addiction. Embarrassment, shame, and anger tend to underlie the Mascot.

The individual who stays quiet and out of the way is considered the Lost Child. This person tends to stay clear of creating any problems. They pretend that none of these roles are occurring. The emotions playing into this role are neglect, anger, loneliness, and guilt.

The Scapegoat often feels empty and acts of their feelings of guilt and shame. They redirect the attention of the main issue upon themselves by rebelling and acting out. When the attention is highly focused on someone struggling with substance dependency, it is likely that another family member will feel as though they are receiving no attention.

Addiction is a Family DiseaseAnother role a family member may take on is that of the Enabler/the Caretaker. Helplessness, inadequacy, and fear drive this individual’s behaviors. By attempting to encourage balance, the Enabler makes the family’s problem appear non-existent. Excuses and avoiding talk of help are some of the not-so-helpful Caretaker’s behaviors.

Changes for Both the Family and Those with Substance Dependency

Developing a lifestyle that supports your recovery does not need to be done alone. Your family also needs aid as you cease your use of opiates, cannabis, alcohol, or other addictive substances. Family healing is attainable. Working with skilled professionals at the Discovery Place in Burns, Tennessee will allow you to gain the backing to stay sober as well as for your family to learn ways to effectively support your recovery. At Discovery Place, we know how much family really matters. Call us today at 1-800-725-0922!


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

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