What is the Role of Family in Addiction Recovery?

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Substance abuse affects not only the addict, but the family members also experience pain and hurt in their own ways. Therefore, the role of the family in addiction recovery is to not only support the addict but to address their losses and pain. Unfortunately, the family dynamic is in question when one member falls victim to addiction. Trust erodes, frustration is everywhere, and feelings of hopelessness over the control of the drug disable each member in their own right.  

Addiction is a Family Disease

The role of the family in addiction recovery is to support a successful recovery. 

Family support increases the likelihood of successful treatment and can help in learning to live life sober. In addition, preventing relapses is of utmost importance during this time. During this time, every family member can understand the true meaning of unconditional love and the benefits it can bring. 

Every family member has a role in learning how to deal with their feelings and emotions concerning the addiction. Education can help identify their unhealthy coping mechanisms and delve into underlying issues within the family dynamic. The role of the family in addiction recovery is to learn how to provide healthy reassurance for their loved ones. 

Harmful coping mechanisms most commonly practiced by family members can include:

  • Ignoring the addiction
  • Distancing themselves from the addicted family member
  • Enabling the addict to keep the peace in the home
  • Trying to control the addict
  • Reaching out to drugs or alcohol themselves to cope

Identifying these harmful behaviors and learning new positive and helpful behaviors that support the addict is the role of the family in addiction recovery. Therefore, participation in supportive family services by all family members is crucial. Research has proven that incorporating a family therapy component into the treatment plan has better outcomes than those that do not. 

Beneficial programs for family education can include the following factors:

  • Addiction education: emotional and physical effect and long-term consequences of addiction
  • How addiction can affect the family as a unit
  • The addiction treatment process, including detox, treatment, and aftercare
  • How to find support for each family member
  • How to support your loved one who is the addict
  • How to rebuild trust within the family and in each relationship
  • Setting healthy boundaries
  • Healthy and positive communication methods

The Five Dysfunctional Roles Family Members Play in Addiction

A family impacted by substance abuse inevitably develops into a dysfunctional system. In this system, members take on “roles” to cope with the addiction without realizing the results. The role of the family in addiction recovery is to figure out what role each member has adopted and how to resolve the behaviors. The success of treatment and recovery depends on attention to these details.

The Savior

This role is also the Hero role. This family member is the shining star of the family. Everything about this family member is acceptable and presentable, and they never let anyone down with their actions. Their family role revolves around covering up the shame of having an addict in the family by presenting themselves as shining examples. This person may be in denial, overlooking significant behaviors that require professional help to rectify. Their complete compensation revolves around their feelings of emptiness and helplessness because of the dysfunction in the family.

The Mascot

The family clown provides comic relief for stressed family members. Humor may be aimed at the addict. Spirit seems to minimize the pain in the family and their own self. This type of humor is a maladaptive coping method. 

The Lost Child

This family member hides from the situation emotionally and physically. They do not rock the boat in any way. Suppressing emotions, they avoid conflicts at any cost. There is deep suffering that requires attention in the Lost Child. 

The Scapegoat

The scapegoat is the person who pulls the blame for everything negative in the family. The Scapegoat creates other problems to distract the family from the addiction problem. 

The Enabler

The Enabler almost ignores the problem and excuses the behavior of the addict. They do not hold the addict accountable for their actions. Smoothing problems over with the remaining family members is their attempt to avoid shame and embarrassment over the addiction. This behavior needs correction so the addict can be successful in their recovery.  

What Role Does Family Play in Addiction Recovery?

The role of the family in addiction recovery is evident. The main goals are to encourage and support the addict while healing themselves and the family unit. Education and self-care are essential. Creating healthy boundaries and rebuilding a strong family unit while instituting healthy behaviors and means of communication will benefit the addict in the long run. 

How Beneficial is Family Therapy in Addiction Recovery?

Family therapy is key to a successful journey in sobriety. The role of the family in addiction recovery is to participate in family therapy with the addict and without. The family unit needs to heal, and each family member needs therapy and support. Treatment centers can institute a family therapy element in the treatment program. Treatment staff can also advise on finding therapy for each family member. 

Family Support Groups for Addiction

Support groups are available for all family members, including the addict. 12-step groups offer personal accountability and spirituality to help prevent relapse. Al-Anon is a support group for families affected by addiction. The role of the family in addiction recovery is to participate as much as possible to make treatment successful. Other support groups are Alateen and Nar-Anon

Find Help Today for Family Members with an Addicted Loved One in California

Launch Centers in Los Angeles, CA, have experience with family therapy and participation in treating a loved one for addiction. Our empathetic and caring professionals understand the emotions and feelings involved with an addicted family member. We can teach your family how to heal from this tragic experience. Contact us now to get your loved one into a solid program that includes family therapy.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

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    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

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    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

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