Sunday, November 4, 2018

Are you playing the Hero? Part Three

Kelsey Brown of Nova Recovery Center contacted me about doing a post on the roles family members often play in an alcoholic family. While there are a few things in this write-up that do not match my point of view, I like what Kelsey has written. Since it's a long write up, this post will be shown in a series of three separate posts. I won't confuse the issue by writing in between the posts. However, when the last one is published, I will write a post giving my feelings / differences with Kelsey's post.


Guest Post by
Kelsey Brown
Nova Recovery Center 

5 Steps to Break the Dysfunctional Family Roles

If addiction is ravaging your family and you, your child, or your sibling is playing the hero, there are a few actionable steps you can take to break the dysfunctional family roles and regain a healthy, balanced household despite the addict’s behavior.

  1. Talk about what is going on. Ignoring the addiction and trying to pretend nothing is wrong is probably the worst thing you could do in this situation. This approach will only cause confusion and a disconnect among your family members. Conversely, talking about the addict’s behavior and the addiction, in general, can unify your family and promote healthy communication.
  2. Identify the dysfunctional roles within your family and take ownership. Once some communication is established, it’s important that each member of your family identify the roles they see and actively participate in and take ownership of those attitudes, beliefs, and emotions. Admitting that you need help to modify these roles and behaviors is another big step in the right direction.
  3. Make amends with one another. If you’ve lied, cheated, stolen, or harmed one another, a difficult but necessary step in the healing process is to make amends. This simply means you do your best to right any wrongs and restore justice when possible.
  4. Agree to work together to help the addict get treatment. Instead of working against one another in these dysfunctional roles, use that energy to come to an agreement in which you will all work together to get the addict the help he or she needs. Whether that means planning and organizing a family intervention or researching treatment options to present to the addict, working together is much more effective than working against one another.
  5. Practice new, healthier behaviors and be patient with yourself and others. It will take time and effort to establish healthy roles within the family unit. Try to take one day at a time and be patient with one another through the transition. Much of this will have to be very intentional at first, but eventually, the communication and healthy behaviors will become more natural.

Breaking dysfunctional survival roles in the midst of addiction is difficult, but family therapy is an extremely helpful tool that can help each member of the family heal from emotional wounds, address conflict, and learn how to communicate effectively in a healthy way.

  1. Dayton, T. (n.d.). Living With Addiction. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from
  2. Howsare, L. (1970, January 1). The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from
  3. Nova Recovery Center. (2018, September 24). Benefits of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from
  4. Smithson, K. (2004, June 30). Caught in the Crossfire: The Chemical or Behavioral Addict. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Treatment Improvement Protocol: Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from

Author Bio:
Kelsey Brown has always been an avid reader and writer. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Missouri State University and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle. She regularly researches and writes on topics related to the substance abuse treatment industry, including detox, rehab, sober living, and mental health issues. When she’s not writing, Kelsey prefers to spend her time outdoors, hiking, camping, and biking.

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