Dealing With Family Issues While In Rehab For Drug And Alcohol Addiction



May 19th, 2016

Drug addiction isn’t a singular problem that only affects one person. Whole families suffer when their loved one is in the grip of addiction. Unfortunately, it’s often hard for family members to work together in order to help because the family unit will contain within itself a variety of individual and group issues that make communication difficult.

Does this ring any bells with your family? If it does, you know how hard it is to see your loved one suffer. You also know that your family issues are only making your loved one’s recovery more difficult. You want to help, but you don’t know how to get your family all on the same page. Thankfully, there is hope. Working through your family issues brings your family together and helps your loved one recover.

The Influence Of Common Family Roles

When addiction strikes a family, it often breaks up into a series of roles. These roles are typically similar to the family member’s past behaviors. These roles are many but the most common ones can be described in the following way: the person suffering from addiction, the enabler, the hero, the scapegoat, and the mascot. While not every family will be large enough to fill these roles or the many others, members do change roles at various times.

The person who is struggling with addiction is obviously the focus of the family unit in this circumstance. The role of everyone else will be reliant on the way they interact with this person. For example, the enabler is the person who helps clean up the mess their loved one is making. They will make excuses, help them get to school, get them to work, give them money which ends up being used for drugs, and try to keep them happy.

The hero is the member of the family who steps up to take care of the family in the absence of the addicted loved one. They are often the eldest child in a family and they take on an overachieving persona, excelling in school and career path, and helping the family get through the day. They often take on a high level of stress and personal guilt.

The scapegoat is the person in the family who is always wrong and is blamed for family problems. This member of the family is often oppositional or difficult, but not always. Some families will actually find ways to blame this member of the family for their loved one’s addiction or take out their frustrations on them instead.

The mascot is the funny one who revels in their ability to make the family laugh. They usually make a constant punchline out of the scapegoat and look to use humor to cover up the problematic situation in the house. They often have a hard time accepting the reality of their loved one’s addictions and try to make a joke out of their use.

Breaking The Influence Of These Family Roles

The one thing that combines all the above mentioned family roles is the way they try to deal with or even cover up their loved one’s addiction. They are also often directly oppositional to one another. As mentioned, the mascot is likely to clash with their constant punchline, the scapegoat. Meanwhile, the hero might get angry at the enabler for allowing addiction to continue. With unmentioned and less common roles, clashing within the family unit is just as prevalent.

These conflicts are a major drag because they will distract you and your family from doing what must be done to help your loved one beat addiction. Breaking these roles is an important, but crucial step. In the case of these specific roles, it requires the enabler to stop covering up their loved one’s mistakes, a relaxation of the hero’s workload, an active presence for the often-neglected scapegoat, and a more serious approach from the mascot.

Sit down with your family and identify your roles, make amends, and agree to temporarily work together to help your loved one get into rehab. Once they are in rehab, you can then work together to help alleviate family roles and issues that contribute to your discord and your loved one’s addiction concerns. Honestly, it will be good for both your loved one’s health and the health of your family unit.

Family Issues That Contribute To Addiction

Beyond the influence of family roles are the problems that plague every family unit. It is almost impossible to find a family whose members have no problems with each other. Addiction is often caused by these all-too-common problems. In fact, addiction often exacerbates the severity of these concerns. Common family problems include:

  • Personality conflicts
  • Loved ones who have deceased
  • Life failures or struggles suffered by the loved one
  • Emotional difficulties between one or two family members
  • Romantic issues or past betrayals
  • Money problems or conflicts
  • Anger or resentment over drug use

These problems influence addiction by creating a great deal of stress in the family. Often, people turn to drugs and alcohol to relieve their stress. In a tight family unit, many of these problems can feel unavoidable or inescapable. As a result, addiction sets in and accelerates the severity of these concerns.

For example, let’s say your father is a carpenter who once longed to be a guitar player in a rock and roll band. He tried his hardest, but couldn’t make it to the big time. As a result, he’s resentful and depressed that his life didn’t go the way he wanted. So, he turns to drinking a 12 pack of beer every night to calm his mind. Your mother is not a drinker and she has major issues with his addiction, but ignores it.

Unfortunately, your dad gets really drunk one night and cheats on your mother at the bar. Your family issues have increased in severity due to his addiction. His fights with your mother have gotten out of control, so he continues drinking to kill the emotional pain. The cycle is complex here and can seem almost unbreakable.

Here’s the thing about it: you have to take care of these problems as quickly as possible in order to help accelerate your loved one’s recovery. You can’t let your contrasting family roles and issues continue to rule your family.

Working Through Addiction As A Family

Once your loved one is in rehab, your family needs to stay an active and vital part of their recovery process. For example, you need to actively work together to understand the ways your family issues have contributed to their addiction. You also need to find ways to assess and solve those problems.

Family therapy is often an important part of the rehabilitation experience, especially if your family has issues that contributed directly to your loved one’s addiction. Working together, you will open up old wounds, discover past hurts, find explanations for problematic behaviors, and work together to change negative behaviors and replace them with healing ones.

Once your loved one is out of rehab, you need to continually work together to address your family issues. Avoid falling on past behaviors and be open and honest with each other. One way to increase openness is to hold a family meeting once a week. Here people can open up and honestly discuss concerns and issues. You can also discuss your loved one’s process through recovery and brainstorm ways to help them continue on their journey.

Keeping Families Together Is Crucial For Success

Drug rehab is not an easy process for any family, but it is one that abounds with potential for healing. A successful recovery journey will bring your family closer together and create a more loving and stable environment. This wonderful reality can be achieved with TreehouseRehab.org. Contact us to learn more about how crucial rehab is for your family’s health.

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