Substance abuse and addiction can affect the family particularly change family dynamics, erode trust, and weaken communication. Family members may experience difficult and painful emotions. However, family can also be the source of strength and motivation to change of substance users. They can help their loved ones achieve and maintain sobriety. Family members can and ideally play a major role in the help seeking, screening, and treatment process – which is LARGELY IMPORTANT!
Families with members who use, and abuse substances unknowingly take on “roles” in order to cope in the unhealthy system. These include:
- The “shining star” in the addictive family system
- They look good, achieve well and never let the family down
- They compensate for the shame the family feels around the addict by being the family superstar
- The Mascot provides “comic relief” for the hyper-stressed family.
- Sometimes humor is tactlessly aimed at the individual suffering the substance use disorder.
- They use humor to minimize the pain in situations and to deflect hurt.
The Lost Child
- The Lost Child hides out both physically and emotionally.
- They can be counted on to “not rock the boat.”
- They avoid conflict and suppress their emotions and suffer deeply
- The Scapegoat is the person in the family who is blamed.
- The Scapegoat creates other problems and concerns in order to deflect attention away from the real issue.
- The Enabler insulates the addicted individual by excusing their behaviors.
- They are unwilling or unable to hold the individual accountable for their actions.
- They smooth things over and run interference to keep the addict from experiencing the logical consequences of their poor choices.
Healthy Roles of Family in Addiction Recovery
- Supportive but Firm Family Member
- Encourage loved one to take thoughtful and positive actions
- Reminding (not nagging!) loved one on the strategies to avoid and refuse drugs to prevent lapse and relapse
- Holding their loved one accountable for the behavior
- Creating rewards for positive choices
Make a Call That Can Bring Your Family Closer Together
Our families are one of our most valuable support groups. There is hope for both family members of individuals suffering from substance abuse, and for the individuals themselves. There are various treatment programs available for clients depending on their risk level. Know that it is never too late to fix broken relationships with the help service providers. Contact a service provider near you today to receive tools and services to help restore your family life.
Reference: Addiction Center. (2020). The role of family in addiction recovery. Retrieved from https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/role-family-addiction-recovery/