The Family Roles of Addiction
How the problem of addiction can imbalance our family roles...
Question to ponder...
When a family member is an alcoholic (or
chemical addict), how do you think it affects
the family? How do you think it affects the
individuals in the family?
Let’s take a look at family roles...
Addiction throws off the “balance” of the
family roles. New roles will be formed to
relieve the pain, restore the balance, and
keep the family together!
The new roles will also take attention away
from the addict, unintentionally allowing
him or her to avoid facing the real problem
The “Star” of the show!
“The Star” -often times a parent
The star is the addict. The role is called the “star” because
the addiction has such a large impact on the way the family
functions. The star is usually in denial, and is blinded by his/
her chemical addiction. Many times, the star struggles to fulﬁll
their family responsibilities. Who will help take over their
responsibilities for them?
“The Chief Enabler”
“The Chief Enabler”- usually a spouse
Enablers knowingly or unknowingly do things that allow
the addict to progress in their addiction, and many times
help the addict hide from the consequences of their
behavior. Enablers may make excuses for the addict, deny
the problem, blame other circumstances, or even defend the
Who will take over the responsibilities that the enabler is
supposed to fulﬁll?
“The Hero”- usually an
The hero tries to do as much as possible
to help the family out. They are usually
perfectionists or overachievers, and
many times are also in denial of the
“the forgotten child”
“The Forgotten Child”- usually a younger child
The forgotten child may spend time alone to escape the problem.
They can experience social difﬁculties (Imaginary friends, make
believe play), and may be very shy. They also may have a hard time
talking about their feelings or problems.
“The Scapegoat”- May be
any family member
The scapegoat will unwillingly assume
the blame for the family, instead of the
addiction itself. The scapegoat may get
into trouble often, have a “rebel” or “I don’t
care” attitude, and takes attention away
from the drinker.
“The Clown”- May be any family member
The clown, not unlike the scapegoat, takes attention away
from the addiction or problems. This person tries to provide
comic relief to help the family during stressful times.