Certain roles are often present in any family, but when drug addiction is added to the mix these roles become considerably prevalent. The entire family is in a sense, “spiritually sick.” Identifying these roles is the first step in the healing process. Let’s look at each specific role.
This is the family member with the addiction. Everything is centered on and revolves around this person. Other family members take on different roles around this person. They pick up whatever duties and responsibilities the addict is lacking. However, the addict does not have to be the most important person in family recovery. The addict is driven by self-centered fear.
The enabler is also known as the caretaker. Without this person, no other roles would be possible. The enabler avoids the issue and tries to keep everyone in the family happy. They are constantly making excuses and keep the family from getting better. This person minimizes or ignores the problem when talking to others. The enabler feels helpless, inadequate and fear.
The hero is the family member who tries their hardest to make the family look good on the outside. This person is the perfectionist. They make the outside look good and pretend like the problem doesn’t exist. The hero is full of guilt, shame and fear.
This family member is the one who tries to make light of the situation. They make inappropriate jokes to cover up how they really feel. Sometimes they take these jokes too far and harm others. This can be detrimental in the recovery process. The mascot is experiencing feelings of shame, anger and embarrassment.
This person is the rebel of the family. The scapegoat will often act out around others. They like to keep the attention away from the addict who needs help. The scapegoat is an expert at covering things up doing anything to divert attention from the problem. This person has underlying feelings of guilt, shame and emptiness.
The Lost Child
This is the quiet family member who will never mention the problem. They keep to themselves and always use caution before they talk or act. The lost child does everything to avoid conversations about the problem at hand. They will even give up personal needs and desires to avoid confrontation. The lost child feels anger, neglect and loneliness.
Overcoming Family Roles and Codependency
Ultimately, these roles lead to codependency in an unhealthy family. Family members are living their lives based on what another family member needs. They lose their identity and become the role they are playing.
Looking at these roles individually allows each family member the ability to make changes. Overcoming these roles allows you to overcome more significant issues, like drug addiction and alcoholism. In the healing process, each family member should become whole so that the family can work together to deal with problems in a healthy way.
The goal should be for each family member to become true to themselves, so that they have something to offer the group as a whole. They should act in a way that is independent and proactive against the way they were acting in their assigned role. When a family works out their problems in this way they can deal with a problem like drug addiction as a unit, rather than each member playing their specific role.
Not playing the part can be difficult. You have to be honest with yourself and decide how you wish things were. Next, you have to communicate that without playing a role and incorporate plans for how you want your new life to be. When one family member changes it usually throws the others off balance, so try to be patient and tolerant of others.
See more at: Family Outreach Program