Restorations Therapy Blog

5 Roles People Play in Families with Addiction

by on Saturday, May 25th, 2019

5 Roles People Play in Families with Addiction

Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. Children growing up with an addicted parent have to cope however they can. Their parent may be unpredictable, sometimes loving and sometimes angry. The parent may be unreliable, being often drunk, asleep, hungover, or just absent. Addiction makes homelife chaotic, which makes children anxious. To try to cope with a parent’s substance use, family members often take on one of the following roles.

The enabler

The enabler typically tries to placate the person with the substance use disorder by giving him whatever he wants. This person is often the spouse or partner, but may be one of the children. It’s typically just easier to give the addicted person whatever he wants rather than fight. These relationships are often codependent, in which the enabler derives a sense of purpose from taking care of someone, even at the expense of her own needs. Often, codependent partners themselves grew up as children of addicted parents.

The hero

The hero is typically the oldest sibling. She often becomes the de facto parent to her younger siblings, trying to provide the care and structure that the parent doesn’t. The hero is often an overachiever, getting good grades and possibly excelling in other areas as well. The hero is responsible and feels like if she works hard enough, she can make a normal life for her siblings. This is admirable, but it also puts a lot of pressure on a child, which may lead to anxiety or depression.

The scapegoat

The scapegoat is usually the second oldest child and is a sharp contrast to the hero. The scapegoat is often blamed for the family’s problems as a way of avoiding the issue of the parent’s addiction. The scapegoat may resent the praise bestowed on the hero and act out by getting bad grades or getting into trouble. Criticising the scapegoat for causing problems can bring the other family members closer, but in an unhealthy way.

The mascot

The mascot is usually the youngest child, who tries to use humor to ease the tension in the family. The mascot may seem outgoing and court attention, but this is often because he desperately craves validation from others. His humor may also be a way masking his anxiety from others or himself.

The lost child

The lost child is typically a youngest or a middle child. She deals with the chaos of family life by avoiding attention. She tries to blend in or disappear. She may be shy and spend a lot of time in her room. She’s the child everyone seems to forget about.

Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. In order to offer patients a more holistic view on a healthy sexuality, Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-6585 as we are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm.

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