Alcoholism and drug addiction have major effects on the individual, deteriorating their physical health, impairment of mental functions and damage to one’s spirit. The adverse effects of addiction do not only affect the addict themselves, but their loved ones are also damaged. Addiction is known as a family disease, it impacts a family’s finances, physical health, and psychological wellbeing. This disease can break a family, treatment is needed not only to help the addict recover but for the family to heal from addictions damaging effects.
In every family unit, members of the family hold their own roles, some even hold multiple roles. These roles allow the family to function, provide stability and balance for all family members. When substance abuse is added to the family dynamic the roles will shift to compensate for the change in behaviors associated with drug or alcohol abuse, making it possible to maintain order and balance within the family. When in active addiction, family members will go into their survival roles. These roles include the enabler, the mascot, the hero, the scapegoat, the lost child, and the addict.
The Enabler is often the family member who is closest to the addict. They will do things that allow the addict to continue the negative behavior without fear of the consequences. This can be done by taking on added responsibilities within the family, ones the addict once held. They are doing this to protect themselves and their family, not to condone the behaviors of the addict but so that it does not destroy the family as a whole.
The Mascot is often the role taken on by the youngest child in the family. While everyone within the family has moved into survival roles they may be withholding information in attempts to protect the youngest child from the damaging effects of the addicts’ behaviors.
The Hero is often the oldest child in the family, they are helpful within the family and seen as a success by others looking in. They are portrayed as the one”having it all together”, while internally they are a mess just like all the other members of their family.
The Scapegoat is another person in the family that draws negative attention. They may get in trouble inside and outside the home and behave as if they simply do not care.
The Lost Child is a role taken on by the most submissive child. They can go unnoticed, keep quiet and stay out of trouble. Their efforts to stay out of sight often leaves them out of mind, giving them feelings of being unwanted.
When the addict begins the recovery process there will be a positive change in roles within the family. These changes do not come without difficulties, members of the family will experience a lot of uncertainty, fears, expectations, and hopes. There will be a mix of emotions, these emotions are a common part of the recovery process. It is important to acknowledge them, express them and work through these feelings. For families they feel stuck, as if they cannot resolve the conflict created by addiction, it can be useful to seek out family programs to aid in the recovery process for all members of the family.
As the family of an addict, it comes as a great relief that your loved one has made the choice to seek treatment for their addiction. The disease has left scars not only on the addict but on those closest to them and it is important to work through all of the pain as a part of the healing process. Chances of long term recovery increase dramatically with family involvement in the treatment process, your involvement is imperative to the healing of your loved one and yourself. Participating in Family Program will help establish a foundation for your loved ones’ recovery and to the healing and health of your whole family.
At The Recovery Team, family involvement is an integral part of our drug and alcohol treatment program. Our family program helps not only the addict to recover from addiction, but to heal the family as a whole. We use therapeutic discussion and conversation to teach tools for communication and setting appropriate boundaries. Our Family Program teaches you methods of self-care that will keep your life and your families lives from revolving around the addict. A major goal during the Family Program is to help parents, siblings and other family members understand that they can restore the family structure, regardless of the addict’s behaviors and choices.
The ultimate goal of the Family Program is to heal the broken relationships caused by addiction. At The Recovery Team, we offer a safe space for family members to express their pain, worries, and hopes without feeling blamed or attacked. This communication process will be supported by a therapist, aiding the family and the addict throughout the healing and recovery process.