When it has been determined that a family member is an addict and steps have been taken to get them help, other family members sometimes take on roles that they unwittingly play as they take part in dealing with an addicted individual.
If you are in a family dealing with an addicted individual you may have taken on one of these roles yourself or perhaps have noticed some being played by others in your family. Being able to clearly identify if you or another relative are playing these roles can help you pinpoint issues in your family. Once identified, these issues can be rectified so that the recovery of your loved one, and their transition back into a drug or alcohol free life, is a positive one.
It is important to note that while the drug addict or alcoholic must recover from their substance abuse, their entire family has to recover from that person’s addiction as well. Dropping or converting the family members’ roles listed below allows for family recovery, which is crucial for the addict’s continued recovery.
Family Roles in Drug and Alcohol Recovery
- The Addict — This is, of course, the person with the addiction. Surprisingly, while they are responsible for their individual recovery, they are not always the key to family recovery. This person is the center of attention and and the starting point for all the other roles.
- The Hero — The hero is the one who desperately needs to put everything in a positive light by ignoring problems. The Hero is the perfectionist. If they overcome this role they can play an very important part in the addiction recovery process.
- The Mascot — This role is also defined as the Joker or Jester. This is the person making jokes that are not conducive to recovery. While humor is an important part of dealing with recovery, harmful humor isn’t. The key here is to be mindful of what you say and don’t make hurtful jokes that could actually hinder addiction recovery.
- The Lost Child — This silent, “not present,” character makes an effort to not even acknowledge recovery. Their goal is not to make problems. If all that effort to deny and not be vocal could be converted into someone who can share positive thoughts and be more present the lost child can effectively no longer be lost.
- The Scapegoat — These people are the opposite of the Lost Child. They sometimes act as a diversion from the addict through their own problem behavior. The difficulty they cause is that in dealing with the Scapegoat, the family loses focus on the situation at hand. This individual would be helpful as an inspiration rather than a diversion.
- The Caretaker or The Enabler — Without this role none of the other roles are possible. This person does everything they can to keep everyone happy and the family in balance – everything, that is, except confronting the issue of the addicted family member. They make excuses for all behaviors and action and never mention addiction recovery or getting help. They often strive to present a situation without problems to outsiders. This is the person who most needs to be aware of their role and find ways, and assistance in, not continuing as the Enabler.
Understanding Your Role In Family Recovery
A better understanding of all the aspects of recovery, including the family dynamic as a whole, is what will make the greatest difference in any recovery and being able to identify these roles is just one of those methods of understanding.
Recovery is a challenging process and here, at Benchmark Recovery Center, we understand and appreciate what a family must go through. As such we are dedicated to doing all we can to help guide you through the recovery process as we help our residents on the road to recovery.