The Role Families Play in Their Loved One’s Recovery
Finding out you are living with a family member with addiction problems can be troubling. However, it’s more troubling for the person trying to manage their life. Luckily, with the right guidance and sympathy, families can effectively manage to live with and care for an addicted member of the family. It’s all about every family member taking up their role in the recovery process.
Six Possible Family Roles Following Trauma
According to Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, author and Chairperson of the NACA (National Association of Children of Alcoholics), family members have six leading roles they need to take up after trauma. The roles are detailed in her book, “The Family Trap”. They include;
#1. The Addict
The addict maintains a functioning role in the family to varying degrees. Regardless of the drug of choice, addicts can cope with their issues through substance abuse. Something that qualified as a recreational past time to many is what an addict abuses to avoid dealing with whatever problems they have.
As the addiction intensifies, an addict’s responsibilities within the family decrease. Within no time, they burn bridges and isolate themselves. They exist solely to feed their addiction, and things which come between them and satisfying their addiction are a problem. Addicts tend to blame others. They will go to the furthest extent to appease their addiction even if it means blocking the truth that haunts them.
Caretakers in a family setting that has an addict take the role of alleviating stress and harm in the family. They manage the addiction problem by “reducing it” as much as possible. They tend to sweep the problem under the rug with all addiction-related issues whisked away. Caretakers will offer understanding excuses on behalf of addicts just to make a critical problem understandable.
Unfortunately, they become enablers. Their role exacerbates the problem. The constant denial and covering up of issues only make the issue bigger and more challenging to solve. As caretakers keep family addiction secrets out of sight, they worsen their loved one’s addiction. Their determination to have a happy picturesque family image that must be upheld eventually causes everything to crash down.
Superstars or heroes assume the role of overachieving perfectionists. They go to great length to being success and honour to their families and themselves. Every minute of their existence is about new opportunities to strike gold, push it to the next level, and fly above. Superstars pour a lot of effort and energy into their achievement and tasks, which increases pressure on themselves. Luckily, they can maintain control and prove they can concur whatever challenge they focus on. However, in some circumstances, they risk too much.
Scapegoats can make life tough for a family setting. They rebel and act out recognizing all the problems within the family. They usually commit offensive actions to distract themselves from the issues they face in their family. Scapegoats are subject to constant admonishments and scorning from family members.
In most cases, they find themselves isolated and rejected. Since they are blamed for everything, they don’t see anything wrong with accumulating more reasons to take up more blame. The result is; a continuous never-ending cycle.
Clowns see no wrong in the worst situations. According to them, they see nothing wrong if all family members have a good time. As a result, they result to being clowns of the family. They become the source of humour to reduce stress in the family. However, the clown’s strategy is just a temporary fix. Humour only works for some time when a family is dealing with serious problems like addiction. Laughter can’t be a long-term solution to anything, especially addiction.
The clown makes laughter the sole defence mechanism for coping with pain, fear, and anger. Family members can repress their tears in the short term since humour isn’t a healthy coping mechanism. The clown may get lost in their own “trade” and fail to comprehend the seriousness of the situation. In the end, those who laugh the loudest in public are usually hiding the most pain when they are alone.
#5. The Lost Child
Some family members may choose to cope with an addict in the family by disappearing. While most can’t actualise disappearance, the lost child doesn’t think twice. They disappear or “lay low” avoiding attention by all means. They avoid situations and choose to keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves. The lost child appears to be living in their own world.
They live quietly and isolated away from addiction and every other issue surrounding the family. They prefer solitary past times, such as reading books or watching fantasy films to disappear. Music also tends to be a popular past time for drowning their sorrows as well as escaping from reality. Although they may be perceived as lost, accessing them isn’t hard. In most cases, they are never far away.
Effect of addiction on individual family members
Addiction in the family can’t be discussed and addressed without looking at the individual relationship between addicts and different members of the family, i.e. on a partner, children, siblings, and parents. Addicts also affect other parties such as cousins who are close and grandparents who play the role of parents.
Different family members have different expectations for each other. They also require varying support from one another. In most cases, we expect support from our parents in times of need. We rely on and look up to them. On the other hand, parents expect their children to flourish while siblings expect a lending hand. Addiction disrupts these expectations shaking the core of the family setting. Most families barely hold together if addicts don’t get help.
The importance of seeking professional help can’t, therefore, be overlooked. Addiction can’t be dealt with conclusively with humour, silence, excuses, or overcompensating on other issues. Families with addicts must find professional support regardless of the extent of addiction or time lost.
There is time to heal! Call Us to get additional information on addiction treatment that focuses on restoring the family unit. We have the expertise to guide your family. The adverse effects of addiction in the family setting can be reversed!
If your loved one is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today to learn how to best solve this unbearable state-of-affairs. You can contact us today on 0800 088 66 86 or contact us via our online contact form.
About the author:
Jon writes for ADT Healthcare and a number of other websites. Jon graduated with a degree in psychology in 1992. Jon has been in recovery for 19 years.