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What Role Are You Playing?

When you have a loved one that is fighting an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it is a necessary step in self-discovery to consider what your role has been throughout their struggles. There are many different roles that family members take on when someone is living with a substance use disorder: the Enabler, the Lost Child, the Mascot, or the Hero. Regardless of what your role has been in the past, family support groups held at Aspire Counseling Services can help you to change your role to best help your loved one as well as yourself.    

The Enabler

This is the family member, or close friend, who has allowed the individual to use without any consequences. Your behaviors may have allowed the individual to continue self-destructive patterns of behavior, and you may not even realize it. Enabling doesn’t mean you approve or support your loved one’s addiction. You have likely been acting from a belief that if you do not help in this way, the outcome may be horribly bad for everyone involved. Excusing troubling behavior, lending money, or helping in any way that allows the individual to continue their destructive behavior, is enabling them to continue without facing any consequences, and ultimately without facing their addiction.

Changing that behavior becomes easier when you understand the impact that enabling has had. Through family support groups you can learn from others and begin to recognize the signs in yourself of enabling behavior. Through the skills you develop, you can begin empowering your family member by giving them tools, helping them access resources, and teaching them skills. You will ultimately support them by giving them the power to make their own choices and solve their own problems.

The Lost Child

This role is taken on by the family member who just wants to stay out of the way. Typically, the Lost Child will spend a lot of time alone so they don’t stand out or cause any trouble that will make things worse for the family. Unfortunately, this can be one of the most self-damaging roles taken on by a loved one. The Lost Child will often have trouble interacting socially, have a lack of direction in their life, and be unable to stand up for themselves. They tend to feel ostracized, lonely, and inadequate. Their lack of self-esteem often results in dangerous behaviors as they age, such as self-harm or a tendency to become involved in abusive relationships.

Family support groups, and even individual counseling, can help the Lost Child to understand their loved one’s addiction and the impact it has had on their life. Through support from the counselors at Aspire Counseling Services, they will develop the skills to help themselves, and eventually their loved one.

The Mascot

The Mascot feels all the stress occurring within the family and attempts to use humor to alleviate that stress. They use humor and entertainment to cover their deep-seated insecurities, so they don’t have to deal with their fear and pain. Unfortunately, this means they don’t learn how to process negative emotions properly and they begin feeling isolated, regardless of how many people flock to them for entertainment.

Family support groups can help this individual to understand how their behavior has developed as a result of the addictive person’s impact on the family. Through counseling, the Mascot will learn the skills needed to begin processing negative emotions in a healthy manner, and how best to support their loved one in overcoming their addiction.

The Hero

This is the role taken on by the individual who wants to solve all the family’s problems. This person will typically sabotage the addicts attempts at recovery out of a desire to be the hero who solves the problem for them. They tend to downplay the need for addiction treatment and may be the most difficult member to encourage to attend family group sessions. The Hero is typically an overachiever in everything they take on, from school to work to extra-curricular activities, they are self-driven to be the best and be in the spotlight. They tend to resent the family member who is dealing with the substance use disorder. Unfortunately, the Hero is not really a hero, they tend to make the situation worse.

The Hero must learn that they cannot work through the substance use disorder themselves, without professional help, because they cannot view their family or their own problems objectively. The counselors at Aspire Counseling Services can objectively sort through issues within the family and help the non-productive family members to work on their own unrelated issues, and ultimately understand that substance use disorders are a deadly disease their family member needs help fighting.

Regardless of whatever family role you may take on when you have a loved one suffering from a substance use disorder, there is help through Aspire Counseling Services. The family support groups at Aspire will help you to recognize the signs in yourself of the various roles and help you to develop the skills to support your loved one during their addiction treatment process.

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