6 Common Roles of Addicts Family Members

Discover the six common roles of addicts' family members. Unveiling the strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

Published On

June 16, 2024

Family Roles in Addiction

When a family member struggles with addiction, it can have a profound impact on the entire family dynamic. Family members often find themselves adapting to the addiction in various roles. In this section, we will explore two common roles: the Dependent Role and the Caretaker Role.

The Dependent Role

The family member who is struggling with addiction often takes on the Dependent Role. This individual becomes the focal point of the family, with other members adjusting their behaviors and actions to accommodate the Dependent's lifestyle. In some cases, family members may enable the addiction by providing support or enabling behaviors, while in other cases, they may distance themselves from the Dependent, cutting off contact completely.

Recovery for the Dependent can be challenging, as they need to identify and address the underlying behavior patterns that contribute to their addiction. By understanding these patterns, individuals in the Dependent Role can make necessary changes and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Seeking professional help and joining support groups can greatly assist in this recovery process.

The Caretaker Role

The Caretaker, also known as the Enabler, is another common role that family members may assume in the context of addiction. The Caretaker often suffers from codependency, which involves facilitating and encouraging the addiction family roles. They may feel a sense of responsibility for the Dependent's suffering and blame themselves for their loved one's addiction.

Caretakers often experience a range of emotions, including fear, inadequacy, and a deep sense of guilt. They may have grown up in an environment where their own needs were neglected, resulting in a distorted sense of self. As a result, they may find it challenging to establish boundaries and prioritize their own well-being.

For the Caretaker, seeking support through therapy or support groups can be immensely helpful in breaking the cycle of codependency. Learning healthy coping strategies, setting boundaries, and focusing on self-care are crucial steps towards healing.

By understanding these common roles within the family dynamic, individuals can begin to recognize and address the impact of addiction on themselves and their loved ones. It is important to remember that addiction affects the entire family, and support is available for both the Dependent and the Caretaker. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, reaching out for professional help is essential. For more information on addiction and recovery, visit our article on failure to treat addiction is leading to unnecessary deaths. Additionally, if you are looking for ways to support a loved one in their recovery journey, explore our article on ways to be supportive of recovery.

Additional Family Roles

In addition to the Dependent and Caretaker roles, there are three other common roles that family members of addicts can assume. These roles often emerge as a response to the challenges and dysfunction caused by addiction within the family unit. The Problem Child, the Scapegoat, and the Mastermind are roles that family members may adopt in an attempt to cope with the impact of addiction.

The Problem Child

The Problem Child is a family member who may act out as a result of the family dysfunction created by the addictive behavior of their loved one. They may engage in behaviors that divert attention away from the addict and onto themselves, sometimes unintentionally. The Problem Child may also inadvertently enable the addict by drawing attention to their own misbehavior, thus deflecting the focus from the addict's actions. It is important to note that the Problem Child may also play the role of the Hero, depending on the dynamics within the family [1].

The Scapegoat Role

The Scapegoat is a family member who is often blamed for the problems and difficulties experienced by the family. In dysfunctional family systems, the Scapegoat serves as a convenient target, distracting attention from the underlying issues within the family. The Scapegoat may bear the weight of blame and criticism, becoming the focus of negative attention. This role allows other family members to avoid addressing their own contributions to the family's problems [2].

The Mastermind Role

While the Mastermind role is not as commonly discussed as the other roles, it highlights the various ways addiction can impact family dynamics. In some family systems, a member may take on the role of the Mastermind, attempting to orchestrate and control situations within the family in response to the addict's behavior. This individual may manipulate or strategize to mitigate the effects of addiction or to maintain a sense of order. The Mastermind's actions are driven by a desire to manage the chaos and uncertainty caused by addiction within the family [3].

Understanding these additional family roles can provide insight into the complex dynamics that can arise in families affected by addiction. It is important to approach these roles with compassion and support, as family members navigate the challenges and seek ways to support their loved one's recovery. For information on how to be supportive during the recovery process, explore our article on ways to be supportive of recovery.


[1]: https://www.avenuesrecovery.com/understanding-addiction/family-roles-in-addiction/

[2]: https://www.embarkbh.com/blog/mental-health/dysfunctional-family-roles/

[3]: https://healthyliferecovery.com/family-roles-in-addiction/

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