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6 Family Roles People Use When Coping with Addicted Loved Ones

6 Family Roles People Use When Coping with Addicted Loved Ones

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Most people in the world would say that nothing is more important than family. They say that you can choose your friends, but family is forever. If you subscribe to the philosophy of blood being thicker than water, then it makes sense that when those closest to you suffer, you suffer right along with them. For many, this concept is never more painfully clear than when living with an addict in the family. Even though plenty of people struggling with addiction say they are only hurting themselves, most of us know that addiction is a family disease.

While there are many obvious ways that addiction affects a family, like domestic violence, financial troubles or death, there are also some more subtle consequences. When someone is suffering, their loved ones will often develop specific family roles for dealing with addiction. Depending on the household, and how the addiction manifests itself, some people may take on multiple roles in order to try and create a balance at home. However, many of these family roles can cause adverse effects of personal development over time.

Here are 6 family roles people use when coping with addicted loved ones.

  1. The Victim

Addiction and its effects draw a lot of attention, so it may seem to the addict that the world revolves around them. They take on a victim mentality, often causing others in the family to feel the need to save them, or at least to avoid disturbing them.

The victim is central to all the other family roles that develop around it. As the roles are defined, the victims loved ones unconsciously take on other family roles to complete the balance after the problem has been introduced.

Although this person’s actions are the key to their own recovery and overcoming the victim mentality, it is important to remember they are not necessarily vital for a family to recover on its own.

  1. The Hero

In the family, there will be someone who tries to be the champion for the victim and the family. This is someone who needs the family to look good, and they will work hard to make it so. The problem with the Hero is that they try to ignore the addiction and its effects. Instead, they want to dress everything up and act as if all is well.

The Hero will present things in a positive manner as if the family roles don’t actually exist. They are often perfectionists and overachievers, who seek to unite the family and offer hope through their own accomplishments. But taking on all this pressure can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for this family member. Very often this is the child of an addict or alcoholic.

If the Hero is able to finally overcome this role, they can ultimately play a crucial part in the addiction recovery process, both for the individual and for the family.

  1. The Mascot

The Mascot’s is often thought of as the comic relief. This is the member of the family who uses humor as a defense mechanism and a distraction tactic. They try to soften the impact of an addicts behavior or ease tensions between family roles through laughter.

On the bright side, the Mascot does bring humor to the family roles people use for coping with addicted loved ones. They have a talent for making others feel better, even in the worst situations. But ultimately, they are also people-pleasers to a fault, which can foster feelings of anxiety.

However, Mascots sometimes make inappropriate jokes about other family members or situations, which can causes friction. They also run the risk of avoiding their own feelings or being inconsiderate of the feelings of others. Sometimes their harmful humor can hinder addiction recovery.

Also, the Mascot is likely to self-medicate as they grow up, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

  1. The Lost Child

In every family that deals with an addicted loved one, there is usually someone who tries their best to disappear. They are silent, withdrawn, and avoid drawing much attention to themselves from other members of the family. This is the Lost Child.

The Lost Child is typically careful to not make problems. They avoid any kind of conflict, along with conversations regarding the addiction or the underlying family roles that take shape around the victim.

The Lost Child will spend as much time as possible in isolation or away from their family. They are the child who sits in their room playing video games or watching TV for hours without any interaction. The Lost Child will often develop feelings of neglect and resentment, which can lead to depression. They often grow up to have a very difficult time developing healthy relationships later in life.

  1. The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat is a problem child. Usually, this is the black sheep of the family who often acts out in front of others. They take on this role, knowingly or subconsciously, to divert attention from the person who is addicted. They rebel home, get in trouble at school, make a lot of noise to mask the underlying issues in the family. Male scapegoats are often prone to violence, while female scapegoats frequently act out sexually.

This person may even adopt substance use in order to run interference for a parent or sibling. They may develop other issues as well, such as eating disorders or a tendency to self-harm.

The Scapegoat covers or draws attention away from the real problem. They grapple with feelings or anger and shame, and they often offer the other family roles a sense of purpose- being someone to watch out for or try to fix.

  1. The Enabler

The Enabler is also commonly referred to as the Caretaker but is always the person who makes all the other family roles possible. Most often this is a spouse, but it can also be a child of an addict.

Caretakers will take it upon themselves to keep everyone happy, believing it is the best way to protect the family. Their mission is to maintain balance in order to make the family look good on the outside. They are notorious for minimizing the addiction, making excuses for all behaviors and actions. They have a knack for blaming everything on something else, without acknowledging the real problem.

This person protects the addict from consequences, while constantly cleaning up after their messes.

Additionally, the Enabler frequently embraces the other family roles when they are convenient for maintaining the family balance. They will laugh at the Mascots harmful jokes, or adamantly put the focus on the Hero’s achievements. They will support the Lost Child’s “independence”, and run interference for the Scapegoat, all while catering to and caring for the needs of the victim.

Functional Dysfunction

At the end of the day, the family roles people adopt as part of coping with an addicted loved one are a kind of functional dysfunction. It is a system that people create in order to survive situations at home that can be toxic and unpredictable. Human beings by nature will behave in accordance with their surroundings. Out of self-preservation, we will get used to unhealthy strategies for dealing with unhealthy relationships. Even if they are not effective, if they help us get by there is a lot of damaging stuff we will get used to.

All of these family roles demonstrate how important it is for families to be supported and involved in a loved one’s recovery from addiction. Because we can see how addiction impacts the family, we know that the family also needs help in overcoming those adversities. Having a recovery program designed specifically for family members and loved ones of people with addiction can make all the difference. Not only does it help the family support their loved one, but it helps the family recover on its own. Family can also play a very important role in relapse prevention. It teaches them what their loved ones may experience during the medical detox phase of treatment. It helps them better understand the science of addiction and the process of recovery, while also showing them how their own behaviors have an impact.

The Palm Healthcare Family Program is all about helping the family come together to face addiction and overcome all the unique challenges that come with it. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please call toll-free now. You are not alone. We want to help your family be stronger together.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

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Yes, it is time for the next part of the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery series!

In the 12 Steps of many recovery fellowships, step 4 is all about being honest with yourself about the past and the defects of character that have led to some difficult times. It is an emotional examination of the self.

But in an effort to point the conversation in a different direction for Christmas, we present our own edit to this very important piece of the recovery process.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

Step 4: Made a Searching and Fearless Christmas List

Well, now we start to get into some more exciting stuff. While normally people in recovery start to get a little nervous about step 4 of the 12 Step program, this list is sure to be a lot more entertaining. Instead of doing the searching and fearless moral inventory of one’s own actions and appraising the wreckage of the past, we will actually make our version a little more about the hope in the future.

In most 12 Step recovery fellowships, the 4th step is a detailed look at an inventory of things like resentments, fears, harms and character defects that can seem a little daunting to some. However, in my personal experience, it is NEVER as serious as some people would have you believe. It is just a list!

So to lighten up we are going to instead make this a searching and fearless Christmas list of goals or gifts just for you. You can start grandiose if you like; writing a Christmas list that looks more like a bucket list. You might imagine yourself in your dream car driving to the career of a lifetime. It might not seem possible right now, but a little bit of imagination and ambition might just give us the spark of inspiration to keep working hard and dreaming big. But it does not necessarily have to be material items.

Try some real searching inside yourself to see what kind of life you are looking for in recovery. What kind of person would you be if you chased your hopes and your dreams fearlessly? How would you treat the ones closest to you if you loved fearlessly?

What else would be possible if you were actively seeking out the thoughts and experiences and feelings on this list?

Give yourself the gift of hope…

While we have been talking about letting go of control over the holiday, we also have to remind you that it’s still your job to control your actions, which means you’re still responsible for your future. Set some obtainable goals for the season ahead. Making a fearless Christmas list is about asking yourself what you’re going to do with your new found freedom in sobriety. Then seek hope for that future.

For some of us, that list can be as simple as spending quality time with our families and friends, trying to make the most out of the holiday. So if you’re giving yourself the gift of hope, give others the gift of your presence.

But you can also stay focused on the now, making your list more about what you want to do now to be a better friend, spouse, sibling, parent or child. Do you want to reconnect and reconcile some of the ghosts of Christmas past? Do you want to grow stronger bonds with those in your life? Maybe you just want to be able to get through the presents, avoid emotional eating and family feuds without the urge to get hammered.

Whatever you decide you want to put on your Christmas wish-list, when you look back at it (checking it twice) it might give you a glimpse of where you are in your journey, and how far you have come.

Check yourself…

So in a way, we tricked you! It is kind of a personal inventory. If you made this an introspective list, it might remind you of where your character defects a showing through during the holidays. This could set the tone for some more in-depth reflection on how you’re handling the occasion. You might realize that the things you used to think mattered most don’t really measure up to the gifts of sobriety you have received.

At the end of the day, making a Christmas list is supposed to remind us of that youthful belief that anything is possible. We might not think Santa is going to drop a new career or car down the chimney, or stuff our stockings with a sense of purpose and serenity, but a kid can dream, right?

It might not be an inventory of our past, but it can give us a new respect for our growth and help us take stock in what we want out of our recovery.

As for the calling birds, we actually call that Tweeting now. It’s a thing.

#12StepsofChristmas

Christmas in recovery can already seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Take some time during the holiday to pump yourself up for all you have gained so far, and get in the mindset to receive even more sooner than later. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

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Guess what folks… we are in Step 3 of our 12 Steps of Christmas series! We are happy to share our ideas on how the 12 Steps most commonly associated with fellowships for alcohol or drug addiction recovery can actually be applied to other aspects of life. These concepts on self-awareness, reflection and compassionate action have such incredible value, that formatting them to talk about the stresses of the holidays seems like a pretty good way to spread some Christmas spirit and cheer.

We look forward to reading your comments and seeing what you think can be done to help support people in recovery during the Christmas season! While relapse is always something to protect against, the stress from relationships you may still be in the process of repairing can be pretty intense itself.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 3

Step 3: Made a decision to turn your Holiday over to the care of your Higher Power.

Some people are probably reading this one like “PAUSE, we already did the talk about the Higher Power stuff in Step 2, don’t wanna do it again!” So before you get too worked up, let’s just relax. We remind you that this isn’t about trying to sell you on any specific concept of a god, or an established faith, or a belief system. We are not trying to recruit you.

That being said, we will talk about the whole Higher Power business a bit more, but not much.

But first, can we talk about the “French hens” from your true love… I mean, what is so French about them, anyway? Do they eat croissants? Isn’t this discrimination against hens? I demand an explanation!

When we say turn your holiday over to this Higher Power, we are not saying your sobriety for Christmas will be contingent on whether or not you have accepted a certain god into your life. Some people think when we talk about turning control over, it means you get to cop-out and take no responsibility.

Have a little faith in the holiday spirit…

Going back to the beginning in Step 1 of Christmas, we know that things with our families or friends can be unmanageable; meaning we are not always in control of how everyone gets along during the holidays. We are not in control of which uncle starts arguing about politics at the dinner table, or of which aunt decides to try and cook for the first time since that one year that nobody brings up anymore. You can’t control how many pairs of socks you unwrap this year, or how many times you hear the same carols over… and over… and over!

You also aren’t in control of how others may react to your sobriety either. If they are doubtful, suspicious or even overbearing, you cannot change them by force. It might just take some patience and some follow-through. Once we can accept that we are not in control of everything, we can learn to let go and try to have some of that ‘faith’ stuff people keep talking about.

Most of all, you can’t control anyone else’s feelings. In recovery from addiction, we learn to let other people be who they are, and to try to be the best version of ourselves in response. We learn to bring all the joy to the world we can without drugs or alcohol, and let the rest take care of itself.

Like in Step 2, we can either put that faith in a God of our understanding, in a Higher Power or belief system we have, or simply in the goodwill toward others that we always hear about during Christmas time. Just giving up the attempt to control the holidays and allowing yourself to be present in the celebration can make Christmas so much easier.

Control and responsibility aren’t always the same…

The idea that being responsible means always being in control is a foolish way to look at the world. The truth is turning things over helps you focus your responsibility for what you actually can control.

No one is always in control of everything in their lives, even the most powerful and influential people on earth. Sometimes the mistletoe of life catches you off guard. Whether we like it or not, life has a way of surprising us. So when we talk about turning things over to something outside yourself, we mean relinquishing some control, not responsibility.

Of course, you still have to be responsible for how you react, and how you treat others. During the holiday chaos, we can still be considerate of their discretions or even their suspicions of our recovery. It isn’t really the purpose of hour Christmas to win them over. We can simply try to apply all that we have learned and all we are trying to accomplish to show people we care about doing better. We can still set our boundaries and be responsible for maintaining them, even with our families.

You still might find some lumps of coal in the stockings, but at least you know in recovery you are strong enough to take some lumps and keep it moving.

Forget the French hens though, I don’t know if I trust that.

Surviving Christmas with the family sometimes means turning things over and only taking responsibility for yourself. In recovery, you have a new chance at loving your family and friends the way you always meant to. Maybe that means accepting the gift as it is. But if you or someone you love is still struggling during the holiday, ask for help. Please call toll-free now. You are not alone.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1

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In the spirit of the holiday season, we figure it is about time to not only celebrate love, giving and connection but also a time to celebrate the journey into sobriety many amazing people are on all around the world. As we reach the end of another interesting and exciting year, full of bittersweet memories as well as joy and hope, we thought it would be nice to give a sobering spin on one of the Christmas classics; the 12 days of Christmas. But honoring the legacy of 12 Step fellowships that have been such a life-changing foundation for many people recovering from drugs or alcohol.

We know that the holidays can also be a difficult time for those who may be separated from their loved ones for the season. They can certainly be a difficult time for those who are still struggling or who have loved ones suffering. So we want to spread a little bit of hope along with holiday cheer.

So for the days leading us to Christmas, we look forward to presenting all of our incredible followers and friends with our very own version of the 12 Steps of Christmas.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1Step 1: Admitting that I am powerless over the Holidays and they can make my life unmanageable

 

Forget the partridge in the pear-tree for the first day… let’s start off slow.

The fact is, the holidays will come around whether we are ready for them or not. I’m still trying to figure out how I survived the turkey and stuffing from November. Then BOOM here comes Christmas, with the gift giving and the family time and all that fun stuff. With all the tinsel and toys (yes, I still ask Santa for Batman action figures for Christmas) there comes a lot of stress and temptations for some people in sobriety.

Remembering Christmas with drinking…

Sometimes they want to join in “merriment” is pretty tempting. I know personally, the temptation to drink during Christmas was pretty much the same as every other 24 hours in early recovery; a lot. Lucky me, I got to spend my first sober Christmas in a holistic addiction treatment program. NICE! In all seriousness, it probably did save my life.

But I can remember the days when I used to drink with my loved ones on Christmas. After getting through the presents and coming together in the afternoon to spend time together, we would have food and drink together. The only problem, maaaaaybe some of us (ME) drank a little too much of the eggnog.

Whether or not you are a fan of “eggnog”, which in some families (or maybe just my family) tends to have a hearty serving of whiskey in the mix, there can be plenty of things about the holiday season that are tough to tussle with, especially in early sobriety.

Powerless over family…

We have to remember that our families are out of our control. All that dysfunction and colorful history with all the characters you call relatives can be, to put it mildly, exhausting and stressful. Sometimes our family members want to remind us of all the time we spent last year nodding out at Christmas dinner…

…or the time we threw up on the snowman in the backyard…

…or the time we sold all the presents under the tree and disappeared for a week…

…No? Just me?

Anyway, the truth is that when aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings all come together with the parents and grandparents and so on, reminiscing is just part of the package. Maybe for some (me, apparently), it is more painful than others. Or perhaps, maybe you still have that family member that is struggling. Perhaps they are the ones disappearing for days, drinking too much cider or even causing conflict due to their distressed state in active addiction. It can be incredibly disheartening.

Either way, it is important to remember that we are not in control of our loved ones. Early recovery for a lot of us is about learning acceptance and working through the adversities we face with humility. Family support in the recovery process is more important than most people realize.

Plus, an abundance of Christmas cookies can go a long way.

Working with that unmanageability…

The most important part of any holiday, especially this time of year, is the compassion and goodwill toward others this season is meant to inspire in us. As troubling as life can be, our efforts to share love and connection are the best way to work through that obstinacy.

No matter how unmanageable the family get-together can be, in recovery, we have to try and remind ourselves that all we are responsible for is giving as much love, compassion, and acceptance as we can, while still maintaining healthy boundaries.

So step 1 for the 12 Steps of Christmas is essentially trying to remember not to stress the small stuff, and to accept yourself and your loved ones.

As for the partridge… is that even a thing? Who has a spare pear tree these days anyway?

Spending Christmas facing the hurdles and hardships of addiction can be a daunting task, but take this opportunity to be more aware of what truly matters and what that means for your recovery. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Thanksgiving in Sobriety: 4 Tips to Make it Work

Thanksgiving in Sobriety: 4 Tips to Make it Work

For some of us, the holidays can be hard. Whether you are new to sobriety, in long-term recovery, or just a human being who just happens to live in a world with holidays, certain times of year can bring on a lot more stress than you would prefer to deal with. Thanksgiving can be one of these difficult times of the year. Some of us find it overwhelming to be surrounded by so many relatives and close friends because it can lead to high-stress social situations. Like when that one uncle brings up politics or that one aunt talks about their much more successful child. Or like when the parents bring up that time you pawned all their jewelry and crashed their car running from the cops.

No? Okay so maybe that is a very specific example.

Either way, Thanksgiving can be tough. Some of us in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction might not be able to spend this holiday with our families. We might feel isolated or even left out if our addiction has placed us in a situation where we cannot be directly present with our loved ones. Or we may find it a challenging situation simply because it is usually a day we remember drinking.

But still, there is always a great deal to be thankful for.

This week, as the holiday season comes in full force, we wanted to share 4 ways to get through Thanksgiving in sobriety for those who might be having a little more trouble than others.

  1. Be present

Too often people forget that holiday gatherings aren’t so much about the food or the partying. They are about the quality of time being spent together. Being present and in the moment will help you to actually enjoy the holiday instead of stressing over it. Even if you are not physically present with your family, being more available to those you are able to be with can make Thanksgiving in sobriety more enjoyable.

And you can still be available for your family and friends that aren’t around by reaching out over the phone and giving them some of your time as well.

If you go into the holiday with the head-space of being a drag, you will probably follow through with that. But if you chose to be actively engaged in you can easily give new meaning and feeling to the experience.

  1. Decide how to talk about it

Sometimes the fact that you are in recovery will come up, so you should decide how you want to talk about it… if you want to talk about it. The great thing is you aren’t required to tell anyone who doesn’t know. You don’t have to explain yourself. Just let people know you don’t drink.

When it comes to family or friends who do know about you issues with substances, decide how comfortable you feel with this conversation. Be willing to address concerns, but also set boundaries. You still have to take care of yourself, especially in early recovery.

Try to focus the conversation on the good side, like the fact that you are enjoying a Thanksgiving in sobriety with them. Some people will want to focus on the bad, but you can still decide how you are going to talk about it. To stay in the spirit and be present, talk about the solution you have now, not the problem you were facing.

  1. Include your support system

Having a strong support system is a vital part of long-term recovery. Whether it is relatives, close personal friends or people from the recovery community, having people to have your back definitely helps. Holidays are all about connection, so stay connected to those who share your experience. Let your family members know you’re going to be leaning on them for support if things get hectic.

Also, have people outside of the family to reach out to. If you are involved in a recovery fellowship or support group, connect with your peers to learn how they handle similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include people who know what you are going through and who can help keep you on track.

  1. Get in the Thanksgiving Spirit

One way to enjoy Thanksgiving in sobriety is to actually commit to the idea of Thanksgiving. This is a holiday all about being grateful for what you have and giving thanks and love to those closest to you.

If you are grateful this Thanksgiving, be sure to give some of yourself. You can help the family with making food or setting up, or you can go beyond that and give in other ways. Sometimes people in recovery find ways to volunteer for the holidays. Participate in some form of community activity that gives back and helps those in need.

Being enthusiastic about the opportunity to share this time with your loved ones and give to others can help you overcome the hang-ups you might encounter. If you can try to get in the spirit of the holiday, it won’t be so much about drinking or stressing over everything and more about spending the time with the people you love.

The spirit of the holiday is to celebrate what you have. If you are sober you have something pretty significant to be celebrating, right? Thanksgiving in sobriety lets us reconnect with those we love and show gratitude for the second chance at life. It shouldn’t be all that hard to get into the spirit of being grateful. The real good feeling comes from loving and giving back.

We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

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Always remember during the holidays to take care of yourself. For Thanksgiving in sobriety be grateful for how far you have come. If you are still struggling with an addiction, now is the time to get help, so that you can give your loved ones the peace of mind they deserve so you can have even more to be thankful for.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.  

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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