Alcoholism and the Family

Alcoholism and the Family
Alcoholism is a family problem.  In today’s world, the definition of a family can have different meanings.  There are blended families, single parent families, and grandparents who are raising children.  Even with these family structures, the alcoholic will influence every person associated with the alcoholic.  It is believed that for one alcoholic, seven people are affected by the alcoholic’s behavior and alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism influences the family’s finances, the emotional well-being of the family, and the overall health of the family.  There is no one situation or environment that will describe the alcoholic family, as each family is unique.  It is near impossible to say that each alcoholic family will experience the same thing.  There is one common thread and that is the impact of alcoholism is almost always negative.
Typically, the alcoholic family will develop roles to maintain stability in the family.  The alcoholic develops a role as well.  Most alcoholic homes are chaotic and these roles serve to help maintain balance and order within the home.  Some of the roles seen in an alcoholic home include the addict, the family hero, the mascot, and the enabler.

The Addict

The addict in the family is the one abusing alcohol.  They do have a specific role in family functioning, which includes creating chaos and building tension.  All other roles in the family exist because of the addict’s behavior.

The Family Hero

The family hero is the one, who despite all the negativity in the home, appears to be confident and even over achieves.  This hero takes on most of the responsibility of the home even if the hero is a younger person.  Someone in the alcoholic needs to make sure that meals are cooked and the house is cleaned and the family hero will make sure all of this is done.  The hero will often take on the role of a parent; however, this role is often difficult to maintain.

The Mascot

The mascot is the one who assumes the role of easing tension in the home.  Often, the mascot will use humor to relieve this tension.  The jokes and storytelling of the mascot are only temporary means to release tension; therefore, the mascot will continue their behaviors to bring balance and happiness to the home.

The Enabler

The enabler is often the spouse of an alcoholic or an older child.  The enabler will take care of everything that the alcohol neglects to do.  They will pay the bills or even try to get money lost by the alcoholic’s behavior.  They will ensure that children are taken to school and will often make excuses for the alcoholic.  The enabler is in denial about the alcoholism and will make any excuse necessary to maintain some balance in the home.

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