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In a healthy dynamic, each member supports the entire family. Basic human needs are met, and each person feels important to the whole family. But in a family where addiction is present, the person struggling with addictive behaviors becomes the focus. When that happens, other members of the family polarize into one of the five codependence and addiction family roles.

An Addict in the Family

At the heart of a dysfunctional family is the person struggling with addictive behaviors, sometimes called an addict. The whole world seems to revolve around this person whether he or she is in recovery. Family members are either caught up in hiding the addiction or trying to get help for the addiction. Regardless, the family itself deteriorates.

The other members of the family fall into the following five addiction family roles.

Addiction Family Roles Number One: The Hero

In the dysfunctional family one member will take on the role of the hero. Everything he or she does and says will be perfect. Often it’s seen in the child who maintains perfect grades and excels in sports. The child is trying to hide a problem at home by looking perfect. On the inside, the child is terrified of others finding out about home life.

Addiction Family Roles Number Two: The Mascot

Another member may become a mascot, clown or jester for the family. He or she will make rude comments and jokes about everyone involved. He or she will hurt other members to keep from feeling the embarrassment, guilt, and shame the addict’s behaviors causes everyone.

Addiction Family Roles Number Three: The Lost Child

The lost child is the silent member of the dysfunctional family. He or she never makes problems, stays out of the way, and does not discuss the addict. This person’s needs are not met and feels neglected. He or she is furious and lonely.

Addiction Family Roles Number Four: The Scapegoat

This person will act out and divert attention from the real problem. He or she becomes the rebel, the black sheep, and a focus away from the addict. He or she feels shame for what the addict does so draws away the attention.

Addiction Family Roles Number Five: The Caretaker

This person enables all the other addiction family roles, including the addict. Most often the spouse, he or she will try to keep everyone happy by avoiding the real issue. He or she will make excuses for bad behavior and never show problems of addiction and codependence. He or she is afraid others will see how helpless and out-of-control the situation really is.

The Five Addiction Family Roles and Codependency

At the heart of the five addiction family roles is codependency; focusing on other people’s need without regard for one’s own needs. Each member of the dysfunctional and codependent family is harming self by hiding the behaviors of the addict. Codependency is an addiction to protecting the addict.

Recognize One of The Five Addiction Family Roles in Yourself?

If you recognize one of the five addiction family roles in yourself or a loved one, chances are someone near you is struggling with addiction. Call Northlake Recovery’s helpline at (561)-770-6616 to learn more about Family Programs for dealing with addiction and addiction family roles.

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