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two parents fight in front a child symbolizing the common family roles in addiction

Common Family Roles in Addiction

Addiction is often called a family problem. That’s because alcoholism and drug addiction affect the entire family. At Five Palms, we believe in a mind-body connection, and we offer holistic treatment for mental health and substance abuse in Ormand Beach, FL. Find out how understanding common family roles in addiction can help you regain physical and mental health with our holistic approach to recovery.

Who Came Up with Common Family Roles in Addiction?

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, an expert in both addictions and codependency, first documented the six family roles in an alcoholic family. She wanted to highlight the impact of alcoholism on the spouse and children.

The six common family roles in addiction are:

  • Addict
  • Enabler
  • Hero
  • Scape Goat
  • Clown
  • Lost Child

Accepting labels doesn’t make people feel very good. However, it can give you a good understanding of the dynamics in your family and how that impacts your mental health and addiction. Different family members often play more than one role at a time. Also, you may switch roles over time.

Addiction impacts everyone in the family differently. How you deal with stress influences the coping mechanisms that you develop. In fact, common family roles in addiction often remain if the addicted person becomes sober, leaves the family, or passes away.

The Addict

The addict fulfills their role in various ways, and their lives tend to revolve around drugs or alcohol to cope with their feelings. Over time, they start using more frequently and become more and more dependent on these substances. Often, a skewed sense of priorities alienates them from other family members.

Emotions can run high as they displace blame, become angry and critical, and fail to perform day-to-day tasks and commitments. Besides drugs and alcohol, there are other kinds of addictions that can have the same dysfunctional impact on families. These include addictions to sex, gambling, and food. Of all the common family roles in addiction, the addict often impacts the at-home dynamic more than any other role.

The Enabler or Caretaker

The enabler is the peacekeeper who tries to reduce harm by making excuses for the addict. Often, the enabler denies that drugs and alcohol are a real problem. Their role is to keep things under control to keep peace in the family. This can result in feelings of deep denial. They want to present the vision of a happy, well-adjusted family to the world.

The Hero

The hero is the perfectionist in the family who is incredibly responsible. This child appears to have everything all figured out. Heroes can put a lot of pressure on themselves and become highly stressed workaholics.

The Scapegoat

The family scapegoat often takes the blame for all the family’s problems. This child may act out to take attention away from the problems caused by the addict. Consequently, the scapegoat is often ignored by the parents and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the family.

The Mascot

The mascot tries to distract the family from stress using humor and jokes. Additionally, they may appear to be in mature but their behavior is in response to feelings of fear and pain.

The Lost Child

The lost child remains invisible to the rest of the family. They often cultivate a sense of aloneness to avoid conflict. The lost child is quiet, spends most of their time in solitary activities, and may resort to a life of fantasy lived through books, movies, or the internet. By flying under the radar, the lost child hopes to escape the chaos and attention of their dysfunctional family.

Our counselors help you learn about the six common family roles in addiction so you can use it to understand and improve your relationship with family members.

Why Promises Five Palms?

Promises Five Palms is a mental health treatment center located in Ormond Beach, FL Our staff uses common family roles in addiction as part of each client’s journey toward sobriety and good mental health. Come home to our facility to learn how the roles your family members play impact your substance abuse disorder and recovery. Call us at 1.844.675.1022 for more information on our comprehensive treatment programs. You don’t have to go it alone.

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