Effects of Addiction on Families

It’s not often that we hear about the hardships families go through when their loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Topics regarding drug and alcohol addiction are often centered around the user to help them decide their next step. However, it is important to discuss how addiction affects families. Excessive drug and alcohol use can bring a family to shreds and leave everyone upset, frustrated and hopeless. The good news is that the negative alcohol and drug effects on families can be reversed.

How Addiction Affects Families

By family disease, we mean that every person in the addict’s immediate family is affected in some way by the addict’s substance abuse. Addiction affects families through finances, physical health, and overall well-being. If drug or alcohol addiction is left untreated, the entire family can feel the affects of the addiction for a very long period of time until the addict either leaves the home or gets clean and sober.

Family Roles

Every person in every family has a role, or multiple roles, that they play in order to maintain stability and balance. However, when substance abuse occurs, the family roles naturally shift to adjust to the new behaviors associated with substance abuse. There are six roles that have been developed to understand how the family behaves and functions around substance abuse. These six roles are:

  • The Hero: This role is usually assumed by an older member of the family who appears confident and serious. The hero role takes on responsibilities in the home that can often exceed their development stage, such as parental roles. This person is obsessed with perfection, making the role difficult as addiction progresses.
  • The Scapegoat: This is the family member who often misbehaves and goes against authority. This member of the family often gets in trouble at school or at home and as they grow older, may get in trouble with the law.
  • The Addict: Many addicts feel shame and guilt about the pain they cause their family members due to their addiction. However, there are also many addicts who do not want to stop using and are somewhat unaware of the effects they are causing their family.
  • The Lost Child: This person isolated themselves from other members of the family and has trouble developing relationships. They have difficulty in social situations and often distract themselves from the negative home environment through fantasy play.
  • The Mascot: Some individuals will take on this role and use humor as a coping mechanism. The mascot is aware that their comedy brings a momentary sense of relief the family and continues to maintain this role in order to achieve balance.
  • The Enabler: The enabler takes care of all the things the addict has left undone, such as taking care of finances, ensuring children get to school, making justifications for the addict, etc. This member of the family is often in denial about the addict’s problem and will continue making excuses for them.

Bringing the Family Back Together

Addiction affects families and creates an imbalance among family members. It can tear a family up and create a poor environment to raise children in and can make a child’s younger years difficult and stressful. The best way to bring the family back together is to get the addicted loved on the help they need to become clean and sober. If you are searching for recovery for you or your loved one, let our counselors help you. They will assist you in every step until you are completely recovered. If you or a loved one has an addiction and need more information on how we can help you bring the family back together, don’t hesitate to contact us at our toll-free number today.

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