If there is one thing the world needs to shout loudly about addiction,
it is this:
Addiction doesn’t only affect one person, the addict,
but also their entire family.
Being addicted to alcohol or drugs deteriorates the physical health of the addict. It spoils the spirit and impairs their mental activities. It also eats away and destroys relationships in their life and makes it quite difficult to maintain steady employment, meet financial obligations and participate in social activities. Genetics play a part in addiction, but there things which of course are role players in the disease. A single person in the family suffering from addiction can alter the family dynamics so you can imagine when two or more family members with addiction can do to a family, not just now, but for generations to come.
All the family members of an addict are affected by substance abuse.
This abuse affects the finances, health and wellbeing of the family. Families of the past were often directed by the grandparents but are now inclusive of multiple generations. Single-parent households are more severely and adversely affected by an addiction than the larger family units more popular decades ago. Children exposed to addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves. They tend to begin using substance at an earlier age than other children and the substance abuse lifestyle is more familiar to them and seen as acceptable as it is seen as part of the family dynamic.
Every addict is different and has a different story and reason behind their addiction.
It can be difficult to assign a connection between alcoholism and family roles. For the most part, people who grow up in families of addiction are more likely to develop addictions themselves. You are not the cause of someone else’s addiction or alcoholism, you cannot cure it and you can’t control it but there are ways that you may be contributing to the problem. Before we place the blame for all the problems in your home at the feet of the addict, it might be wise to look at how the other person’s substance abuse may have affected you, and how you have reacted to it. How do we do this? We look at some of the roles we play while we deal with an alcoholic within the family unit.
Here are some of the roles we play while dealing with an alcoholic or addict:
The Hero: The rescuer doesn’t let the incident become a “problem”. They will like, cover up and protects them from the world. They often deny that there is a problem at all.
The Victim: Many addicts feel guilt, shame and remorse for the pain they are causing their families. Some become angry and disrespectful. They can also blame the family for their suffering and live in in total denial of their addiction and problems.
The Mascot: They use their humour to handle the uncomfortable nature of the house. They know their humour can bring a sense of comfort and relief to the family and use this role to accomplish that sense of comfort and balance.
The Head Enabler: This person is usually closest emotionally to the victim and serves as the protector of the family. They appear self-righteous, super responsible, sarcastic, passive, physically sick, or even martyr like. Beneath the surface they are however often full of anger, hurt, guilt and low self-esteem.
The Lost one: Often alone and isolated from other family members, the odds of them developing big troubled relationships when they’re older is great. Often they feel awkward in social gatherings and find ways to escape family engagements.
The Scapegoat: They have a habit of misbehaving and showing unnatural and annoying tendencies in front of everybody. They also get into trouble at home and in school. When these youngsters move get older they’ll most likely have issues with the law.
What you need to realize is that the enabler takes care of all things, makes sure to handle all social, financial and business issues. They work to hide the addiction so the addicted member of the family doesn’t feel bad. They make excuses and clean up messes and ensure the addict does not face any consequences. If you recognize yourself in any of these roles you should consult a professional for help in dealing with the addict. Remember, addiction is a family affair and if you are not stopping the problem, you could be contributing to it.
For more information on dealing with alcohol abuse and getting yourself into rehab to start a new life, call Houghton House now:
office hours: 011 787 9142
24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532
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