Family Roles in Addiction

While an individual diagnosed with a substance use disorder plays the role of “the Addict,” it does not mean that other family members do not also play crucial parts in the disease of addiction. These roles may be unconsciously taken on by loved ones. 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.

What are Familial Roles in Addiction?

A family’s world appears to revolve around the addict. This individual 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 perfectionistic in nature and help shield other disappointment and emotional pain. Fear, guilt, and shame tend to fuel this character.

Family Roles in Addiction

We each remember the class clown from 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.

When 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. “The Scapegoat” often feels empty and acts off their feelings of guilt and shame. They redirect the attention of the main issue upon themselves by rebelling and acting out.

Lastly, there is the individual who is considered “the Enabler” or “the Caretaker.” Helplessness, inadequacy, and fear drive this individual’s behaviors. Via attempting to encourage balance, the Enabler makes the family’s problem appear non-existent. Excuses and avoiding talk of addiction help are some of the Caretaker’s behaviors.

Treatment is for Both the Family and Those Directly Addicted

A desire to live a sober life is important for both the individual addicted to alcohol, cannabis, opiates, or other illicit substances. Developing a lifestyle that supports your recovery does not need to be done alone. That same longing for sobriety from family members can aid in that same individual in maintaining their sobriety. Working with trained professionals at Discovery Place in Burns, Tennessee will allow you to gain healthy coping skills to stay sober as well as to learn ways to effectively support your loved one’s recovery.

At Discovery Place, we know how much family really matters. Call us today at 1-800-725-0922. While we would love to help you help those you love to maintain their sobriety, it does not mean that as a loved one of someone in an alternative treatment program you are not also in a tough situation. We know there are years of emotional hardship you have endured watching your loved one go through their addiction. You are not alone! Family recovery is attainable.

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