Addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. Whether you are a parent, sibling, or child of a loved one struggling with addiction, you can also be negatively impacted by addictive behaviors. When you or your loved one enters substance abuse treatment in Hawaii, the whole family needs support to create a healthy home environment for recovery.
Family Roles in Addiction
When one member of the household has an addiction, each family member could take on different roles that could be unhealthy for both themselves and the family member with an addiction. These unhealthy roles result from attempts to cope with the issues in the household due to addiction. Family members adopting these roles are trying to deal with the current situation, yet they might not know the best way to approach the family’s problems.
Each of these roles is a way of handling the stress within the home. All of these behaviors are rooted in surviving in a dysfunctional home environment. As children of parents with an addiction grow up, they might continue to utilize these behaviors to manage stress or function within their adult relationships. However, these roles create unhealthy behavioral patterns and do not solve the issues within the home.
Common family roles in addiction include:
#1. The Person Addicted to Drugs or Alcohol
Most of the focus in the family is on dealing with the person with the addiction. Even if other family members avoid the household as much as possible, these avoidance behaviors are often a maladaptive way of coping with the addiction.
#2. The Caretaker or Enabler
Usually, the caretaker is the spouse of the addicted family member; however, an older sibling might fulfill this role in the absence of a parenting partner. The caretaker helps keep the family functioning while taking on the responsibilities of the addicted family member. Caretakers could unintentionally enable addictive behaviors by protecting the addicted family member from dealing with the negative consequences of their behaviors.
#3. The Hero
The hero is usually an older child within the family who attempts to make up for the dysfunction within the family. They might be highly responsible or serious for their age, and they usually miss out on having a normal, carefree childhood.
#4. The Scapegoat
This role is usually fulfilled by a child labeled a “problem child.” They might abuse substances themselves or engage in other problematic behavior, which shifts the focus away from the addicted family member.
#5. The Mascot
The mascot uses jokes and humor to defuse the issues within the household. They could be attempting to shield themselves and their loved ones from dealing with the stress within the home.
#6. The Lost Child
The lost child is quiet, reserved, and keeps to themselves. They typically try not to be noticed as they don’t want to ruffle any feathers or add to the family issues.
Healing the Family System
When you receive addiction treatment, your family might not know how to behave in a healthy way, even when you are in recovery. They could be accustomed to the maladaptive roles they have been playing and now need to change how they behave within the family. If the entire family system doesn’t heal, an addicted loved one could easily fall back to their addictive behaviors without a healthy home environment for recovery.
Many treatment facilities involve the family in the healing process. Your family can be one of your most significant support networks, and they could be there for you to help you continue along your pathway to recovery. If anger and resentment continue to fester, your family might struggle to function as a healthy unit.
Substance abuse treatment for an addicted parent is critical to the health and well-being of their children and parenting partner. Kids of addicted parents could develop mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs) themselves. They could also struggle to deal with stress throughout their lives or develop unhealthy adult relationships.
Help for Family Members
Sometimes, the addicted person doesn’t get the help that they need. They might refuse recovery, and any interventions could increase family tension. Family members of a person with an addiction can still find support for themselves to learn healthy ways of coping with a dysfunctional family, such as:
- Al-Anon family groups: Al-anon meetings are peer support for those with an addicted family member or spouse. Often, adult children of addicted parents can get support after leaving a dysfunctional home environment.
- Alateen groups: For kids growing up in a home with an addicted parent or sibling, Alateen groups can help you learn healthy coping skills and resources to thrive despite having addiction within your home.
- Individual or group therapy: If you struggle with your mental health due to an addicted family member, you can find support from individual counseling or group therapy.
Addiction is a family disease that has a ripple effect on everyone within the household. If your loved one struggles with a substance use disorder, you might neglect your own emotional needs, as the focus of the family is on the addicted family member. Children and spouses of addicted parents can fulfill different maladaptive roles within the home. While these roles might help you and your loved ones survive, they could lead to more issues inside and outside the home. You might be unintentionally enabling the addicted behaviors, which could continue to worsen as your family member refuses to get help. If you or your family member struggles with an addiction, the entire family must get help to navigate the current family crisis in a healthy way. Hawaii Island Recovery, a center for alcohol and drug treatment, is here to help families deal with addiction within the home. Call us today at (866) 390-5070 to learn more.