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WHAT HAPPENS TO FAMILIES WHEN ‘ADDICTION” BECOMES A PART OF IT?

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FAMILY WHEN ‘ADDICTION’ BECOMES A PART OF IT​?

The family is a system of parts and must be treated as such.

PREMISES

In all cultures, the family imprints its members with selfhood. Human experience of identity has two elements; a sense of belonging and a sense of being separate. The laboratory in which these ingredients are mixed and dispensed is the family, the matrix of identity.

Salvador Minuchin

Note well the paradox of sense of belonging versus sense being separate

I describe family values as responsibility towards others, increase of tolerance, compromise, support, flexibility. And essentially the things I call the silent song of life-the continuous process of mutual accommodation without which life is impossible.

Salvador Minuchin

Note well the keys words: Responsibility, tolerance, compromise, support, flexibility.

The whole of the family is adversely effected by even just one addict within the family. This effect often rises to the level of “traumatization.’

WARNING SIGNS WITHIN THE FAMILY

  1. Normal everyday routines are interrupted

  2. Unexpected and frightening events becomes common place

  3. Behavioral patterns change

  4. What is said often does not match reality

  5. The enire family system becomes absorbed in the ‘addiction’ problem.

  6. Minor events become large and large events are minimized

THE NATURAL RESPONSE IS FOR THE FAMILY MEMBERS TO TAKE ON CERTAIN ROLES IN A FUTILE ATTEMPT TO RE-ESTABLISH BALANCE OR HOMEOSTASIS.

Some of these roles are:

  1. The foremost role is that of the addict. The family world revolves around the this person. This causes the addict to become the center of attention. The rest of the roles are conscious or unconscious reactions to the addict in the service of restoring family balance.

  2. The Hero is the family member that needs to make the family and the role players look good. They ignore the problem by presenting everything in a positive manner.

  3. The Mascot is the role of the jester. They often make jokes about those involved in the family interactions. This use of humor is intended to make light of serious family disputes.

  4. The Lost Child is silent and out of the way. They never mention ‘alcohol’, ‘substance abuse” or ‘recovery.’ The Lost child gives up their needs in the futile hope that the ‘addiction’ problem with dissolve.

  5. The Scapegoat often acts out within the family to draw away attention from the addict. They will rebel, make noise, and divert attention away from the addict’s need for recovery. The focus on addiction and recovery is hindered.

  6. The Enabler or Caretaker makes all of the above roles possible. The perform the herculean effort of keeping everyone happy and the family in balance. The make excuses for all behaviors and often remove consequences for family member behavior.

ALL OF THE ABOVE ROLES ARE OFTEN PERFORMED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS BUT ALL WORK CONTRARY TO THE THE ADDICT’S BEST INTERESTS.

The roles played by family members lead to Co-Dependency. Family members make decisions based solely on what the addict needs. When Co-Dependency remains in place aversion, resentment and lack of self-orientation emerge. The family member becomes the role that they are playing.

The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Synergy program offers evidence based family practices. This model integrates all of the family members to negate the effect of the family roles” and guide the addict toward recovery.

The goal of the Family Synergy Program is that within the family:

  1. Self-worth is high

  2. Communication is direct, clear, assertive, specific and feeling are expressed without reproach.

  3. Rules are reasonable, flexible and appropriate to change

  4. It offers an example of how to communicate beyond the family system

  5. Each member of the family is aware of their individual goals and can rely upon family support

Compare this with a description of an addict family with all of the above roles in place

1 The dependents use abuse of alcohol or substances is the most important thing in the family life

2 Alcohol substance abuse are misidentified as the cause of the family dysfunction. The root is denial

3. Enabling thru blaming others, don’t mention the addiction, covering up, alibis and loyaty to denial

4. No one says what they feel or think

ADDICTION IS A FAMILY DISEASE …” ONE PERSON MAY USE BUT THE WHOLE FAMILY SUFFERS.”

Edward L. Oriole LCPC CADC NCC

Staff at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center

1930 Thoreau Dr. Suite 170

Schaumburg, IL 60173

tel 847 253 9769

edward@lighthouseemotionalwellness.com