Addiction is a Family Thing

Day in and day out we are looking at the opiod crisis that is spreading like wild fire. It reminds of the crack epidemic that also spreaded like wild fire in the 80s and 90s. I remember being a little girl and seeing how this new lust was calling people’s names and calling them to do things that they would have never imagined doing. It was addiction. It was the ugly face of addiction.

Fast forward and as I look all around me addiction has grown increasingly among our youth; our adults, our families. Addiction comes in many forms. You have the typical drug and alcohol addiction. Then we have food, sex, gambling, social media, shopping, relationship/love, gaming, etc. They may not seem as harmful as drugs and alcohol however addiction is addiction and it affects one all the same.

I grew up around addiction. I grew up where there were alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, perhaps even food, sex, and relationships addicts. I saw how the addiction affected the souls of the individual. I even saw how addiction affected the family; the community.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. Addiction affects the family. Each individual in the family takes on a role to either enable or disable the addict. These roles occur as a way to provide what most believe as support, tough love, or avoidance of the the addict. These roles include the following:

The Addict- the one with the addiction; the center of the dysfunction; where the world revolves the addict making them the center of attention.

The Hero– the one who is always to the resuce of the addict, the dysfunction, the family in the home; they work hard to make the addict, the family, and themselves look good. They are the perfectionist of the family.

The Mascot– the one that is the comedian of the family; to make light of the dysfunction; sometimes the jokes are not funny at all

The Lost Child– the one that gets lost in the dysfunction; they stay out of the way of the addict and the dysfunction.

The Scapegoat– the one that is the rebel and tries to bring attention to them and not the addict or the dysfunction

The Caretaker– this is the one that is the enabler; they take care of the addict and the dysfunction; they enable the addict to be the addict and the dysfunction to remain as dysfunction; the roles to remain the roles; they are the people pleasers trying to keep everyone and everything happy

When there is addiction in the home each family member will step into their role or roles…yes you can actually be in more than one role. The family members step into their roles and play the scenes of a movie that is not easy to watch and also not easy to live. After owning these roles it becomes “normal” and the addict continues to be the addict and the family also become addicts…codpendent (that’s another blog). Whenever someone in the family steps into recovery and decide that this is not the role they want to play any more and that this movie has to end is the moment that a change has to take place. A disruption has occurred in the family and either the family will stand with the dysfunction or take a stand and work on recovery as well. If you’ve ever seen Intervention on A&E you will know exactly what I mean.

Walking into recovery isn’t easy for the addict or the family. However it is not possible with just one person. The family unit will need to stand with addict or the person that interrupted the dysfunction and go through recovery together. Recovery begans with admitting that there is dysfunction; a problem and then seeking professional help. Family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, etc.  will be professional help that the family and the individuals can attend to work on walking out of patholgy to recovery and healing.

The road to recovery isn’t easy. It is tough. It is not pretty. It is not that movie with rainbows and unicorns. It will take work; committment, and consistency from the addict AND the family. It can be done. Hope is there!

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or in one of the family of addiction roles and would like help you can contact me at tahiyyamartin@gmail.com or check out my website at http://www.tahiyyamartin.com.

Tahiyya xo

 

Tahiyya is a licensed professional counselor associate and licensed clinical addiction specialsit associate that works with adults and teens who struggle with addiction, codependency, disordered eating, and relational challenges. Her private practice is in Matthews, North Carolina. In addition to therapy she is also a life coach for women for emotional wellness and recovery as well as a mom and wife.