Addiction is a multi-pronged condition. It wreaks havoc not just in the addicted person. It also affects the people around him. It is a very complicated issue to deal with and this is why family members prefer to take on certain roles either to help the addict or to better deal with the situation. Some of these roles that family members assume are the following:
1. The Addict
The addict is the person using an illicit substance as a means of dealing with life’s difficulties. By doing so, he creates chaos and tension among family members. The chaotic atmosphere that he created around him is also compounded by denial. Each household member does everything, to the point of exhausting their energy, time and other resources, in order to help the addict. Family members help the addict to ensure that the entire family’s status quo will be preserved.
2. The Hero
The hero sees to it that the mistakes of the addict are not shown to people outside of his home with the hope of making their family appear normal in others’ eyes. The hero will do everything behind closed doors to ensure that his dysfunctional family will remain as intact and happy as possible, despite the presence of an substance-dependent member. And, in the process of making his family look normal, he tends to become perfectionist and self-sufficient.
3. The Scapegoat
The Scapegoat attracts negative attention from other members of the family. He will show acts of defiance and is often hostile to everyone. This attitude distracts the family from the attention that they are supposed to give to the addict. The scapegoat is the opposite of the family member acting as a hero. He does not care any less about his responsibilities and about the problem that his family is facing. Sometimes, in the hopes of gaining attention he will also engage in substance abuse.
4. The Mascot
The Mascot is the family’s comedian. He uses his sense of humor in making the family atmosphere less stressful. He feels powerless against any adverse events that occur in his own family. So, he tries to lessen the impact of the negative occurrences by being a comedian to make everybody laugh. However, the Mascot also tends to become depressed when left alone. Therefore, professional help must be sought by the family to prevent the issue from escalating.
5. The Enabler
The Enabler is the person who continues to show support to the addict. He also protects him from the consequences of being a slave to the illicit substance. The enabler is quick to come up with excuses in order to justify the mistakes of the addict. He would try his best to shield the addict from the damage caused by addiction. There will also be times when the enabler will take responsibility for whatever damage that the addict has done.
6. The Lost Child
The lost child prefers to stay out of the way and avoid any interaction with other family members about the problem at hand. He stays quiet and chooses to become invisible which is also why he is often forgotten by other family members. The lost child also enjoys indulging in solitary activities. He prefers to be alone rather than ask others for help. As a consequence, some of his needs are unmet while also having a very low self-esteem.
7. The Mediator
The mediator serves as the family’s middle man. He acts as the go-between among family members. Mediators are known to have higher tolerance for any misbehavior because they would rather avoid conflict and hostility. They prefer to have their lips sealed rather than say what needs to be said. However, their avoidance for conflict may also lead them to have unspoken resentments. Most of the time, they prefer not to say anything if they think it would only cause further conflict in the family. Unfortunately, this habit also hampers healthy communication between family members.
Although assuming these roles may somehow help an individual suffering from addiction, if left unchecked the roles could turn out to be dysfunctional. Consequently, it runs the risk of worsening the issue that the family is facing about the addicted member. This is when the need to consult a professional therapist becomes crucial.