Addictions and Family Roles

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Authors: Aisha Khan Crowe, Jill Bowers, Sabrina Roley (?)

Coparenting with someone who has an addiction is not easy. Many of us define ourselves by the roles we play in our everyday lives. Some people identify themselves by their career title or as a parent, and this is true for family with addicted persons as well. The roles in the addicted family are established to protect and assist in promoting some sense of normalcy for the family.

These roles can be carried out by the traditional family members or can include extended family members and even friends and employers. The dynamics can be changed and altered to meet the needs of the family system at that time.

The roles have been defined as:

· The Addict

· The Enabler

· The Mascot

· The Lost child

· The Hero

· The Scapegoat [JRB1]

Find a picture like this online and cite the pic:

Perception versus Reality of the Family Roles

Family Roles




Primary support for the addict, super responsible, can be sarcastic, passive communication style, Seen as a martyr, prone to physical illness

Anger, guilt, resentments, lack of self-care, low self-esteem, has a sense of purpose when taking care of the addict and feels lost when the addict is in recovery


hostile, manipulator, aggressive, self-pity, blaming others, sometimes charming, a victim of their life, helpless

Filled with Guilt, shame. Fear, hurt and pain, struggling with insecurities, arrogance, lack of empathy for others, self-absorbed


Hostile, rebel, always in trouble, defiant, selfish

Rejection, guilt, jealousy, anger

Lost Child

Awkward, isolated, shy, living in a fantasy world, unaware, average intelligence, lack of ambition, lazy, materialized, antisocial

Repeated Rejections, low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, careful not to trust other for fear of being hurt, others have discouraged them from showing emotions, ignored by loved ones, associates being noticed with being abused in some cases


Overachiever, intelligent, social, popular, well-adjusted, ambitious, happy home-life

Guilt, hurt, pain, drive to cover-up dysfunction at home, feeling inadequate, seeking approval


May look immature to others, funny, social, Hyper, distracting in nature, uses humor in unacceptable situations

Fear, anxiety, insecurity, uses humor to bring others happiness and normalcy, uses humor and distraction as primary coping skill

(Cruse-Wegscheider, S.,1989)

Additional Resources:

These are videos that talk about roles in the addicted family:

There is help out there.

· SAMSHA- This is a great resource online that has information about addiction.

· for family members of alcoholics

· for co-dependent individuals[JRB2]


Cruse-Wegscheider, S., (1989). Another Chance: Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family. Second Edition (pp. 89-137). Palo Alto, California. Science and Behavior Books, Inc.

[JRB1]You could add examples of these with a scenario if you want and add yourself as an author. For example, you could write the scenario and add the fake names for people in the family you included in the scenario. [JRB2]Add hyperlinks

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