Addiction is a Family Disease

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!

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