The whole family is affected when a young man struggles with substance use disorder or co-occurring conditions. Addiction is a damaging disease that does not only affect the young man, but their entire family. So, it is understandable you may be wondering, “What is the role of family in addiction recovery?”
Addiction Is a Family Disease
Unfortunately, substance abuse often causes a family to take on a number of dysfunctional roles. This is due to the effects addiction has on everyone in the family.
Relationships are stressed and easily damaged. Trust is often broken because the young man does not live up to their responsibilities and commitments. Furthermore, family members can experience frustration, anger, hurt, pain, and a sense of hopelessness as they watch their loved one continue on their downward spiral into addiction.
The Five Dysfunctional Roles Family Members Play in Addiction
To better understand the role of family in addiction recovery, you first must understand the five dysfunctional roles family members play and their impacts on the young man struggling with addiction.
This role occurs when one family member sets themselves apart by becoming an overachiever. They are compensating for their loved one’s addiction. They attempt to offset the family’s shame and embarrassment and are “always there” when the family needs them to be.
The savior may also attempt to make the addict look better to those around them by covering for them. People who play the savior are often in denial and have not yet come to terms with the addiction. It is equally common for the savior to feel hopeless, helpless, and empty inside since they are not sure how to help their loved one.
The mascot takes on the role of injecting humor into the family to help downplay the seriousness of the addiction. Their jokes can sometimes come across as attacking the young man with the addiction. Furthermore, humor is a coping mechanism used to deflect the hurt and pain the individual is feeling.
#3. Lost Child
This role is where a family member essentially pulls away from the family emotionally and physically. They dislike conflict. Therefore, they avoid being placed into family conflict and arguments regarding the addicted family member. Additionally, they believe they are helping since they are not putting a strain on other family members’ emotional states.
The scapegoat is the family member everyone else blames in one way or another. They deliberately create problems and cause conflict in order to draw attention away from the young man with the addiction. Since family members are focused on the scapegoat, they often turn their attention away from the real problem.
The enabler role occurs when a family member enables the young man’s addiction. They often make excuses for them or downplay the seriousness of the substance abuse. For example, they may say it is “just a phase” they are going through.
Enablers also can feed the addiction by not holding the young man accountable for their actions. Often, enablers want to avoid the shame and embarrassment of admitting their loved one is an addict.
What Is the Role of Family in Addiction Recovery?
While there are unhealthy roles that family members can take on when the family is affected by addiction, there are also healthy roles. These roles occur when they want to take on healthy, productive roles to help the young man include:
- Learning about addiction and why it is considered a disease
- Learning how addiction impacts the entire family
- Finding out more about the recovery process
- Discovering why it is important for family members to take care of themselves emotionally and physically
- Taking advantage of family support groups for addiction
- Developing health techniques to support the addicted family member
- Learning how to rebuild damaged relationships and trust
- Taking steps to establish healthy boundaries
- Learning how to effectively communicate with an addict
- Accepting the family must let their loved one face the consequences of their addiction
- Participating in family therapy and family programs when their loved one is ready to get help for their addiction
How Beneficial Is Family Therapy in Addiction Recovery?
Once the young man has undergone addiction treatment, there is still much work that needs to take place so that the family can heal. Family therapy provides both group and one-on-one settings for the family to help bring young men closer to their families.
Young men with family support from the beginning of their addiction recovery are often more successful at maintaining sobriety. Furthermore, as families continue through therapy and family programming, they are more likely to reform healthy relationships.
Find Help Today at Sober Living Homes for Young Men in Los Angeles
When you are looking for support, resources, and what your family can do to help a young man struggling with addiction, New Life House is here to help. Family programming is an essential part of our sober living homes for young men in the Los Angeles area. These homes provide a stable, structured, and supportive environment for young men to continue to work on their recovery and sobriety. We also provide access to continued outpatient programming, educational programming, and life skills programming.
Our objective is not only to help your young man learn how to maintain their sobriety but also to help the entire family heal and recover from the disease of addiction. For additional information about our family programming and sober living homes for young men, feel free to contact us today!