Roles of Family

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a discipline of psychology that deals with couples and families in close relationships to encourage change and growth, especially during hard times. 

Do You Know ?

The number of family counsellors in the U.S. is expected to increase by 19% from 2014 to 2024.[counseling statistics 2020]

In the United States, 6.1 million people are seen annually by family therapists. []

There are an estimated 1,125,579 family counsellors currently practicing in the U.S. 2021, from which 68.6% are females, 23.8% are males, and 7.6% are unknown.
[US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health]

Roles in Addiction

The Addict

The person with the addiction is the center, and though the key to alcohol and drug addiction recovery, not necessarily the most important in family recovery. The "world" revolves around this person, causing the addict to become the center of attention. As the roles are defined, the others unconsciously take on the rest of the roles to complete the balance after the problem has been introduced. Recovery many times on this person.

The Hero

The Hero is the one who needs to make the family, and role players, look good. They ignore the problem and present things in a positive manner as if the roles within the family did not exist. The Hero is the perfectionist. If they overcome this role they can play an important part in the addiction recovery process. The underlying feelings are fear, guilt, and shame.

The Mascot

The Mascot's role is that of the jester. They will often make inappropriate jokes about the those involved. Though they do bring humor to the family roles, it is often harmful humor, and they sometimes hinder addiction recovery. The underlying feelings are embarrassment, shame, and anger.

The Lost Child

The Lost Child is the silent, "out of the way" family member, and will never mention alcohol or recovery. They are quiet and reserved, careful to not make problems. The Lost Child gives up self needs and makes efforts to avoid any conversation regarding the underlying roles.
The underlying feelings are guilt, loneliness, neglect, and anger.

The Scapegoat

The Scapegoat often acts out in front of others. They will rebel, make noise, and divert attention from the person who is addicted and their need for help in addiction recovery. The Scapegoat covers or draws attention away from the real problem. The underlying feelings are shame, guilt, and empty.

The Caretaker (Enabler)

The Caretaker (Enabler) makes all the other roles possible. They try to keep everyone happy and the family in balance, void of the issue. They make excuses for all behaviors and actions, and never mention addiction recovery or getting help. The Caretaker (Enabler) presents a situation without problems to the public. The underlying feelings are inadequacy, fear, and helplessness.

Addiction and the Family

Healthy Family System
  • Self worth is high.
  • Communication is direct, clear, specific and honest and feelings are expressed.
  • Rules are human, flexible and appropriate to change.
  • It is natural to link and be open to society.
  • Each person has goals and plans to get there, and should be supported by the family.
Rules in a dependent or addicted family:
  • Dependents use of drug is the most important thing in a family life.
  • Drug use in not the cause of family problems, it is denial which is the root.
  • Blaming others, don’t make mention of it, covering up, alibis, loyalty of family enables. Nobody may discuss problem outside the family.
  • Nobody says what they feel or think.

Family Roles Lead to Codependency:


Addiction and the Family Roles How the They lead to Codependency

The parts played by family members lead to codependency. Members make decisions concerning what the other person needs. Codependency leads to aversion and lack of self orientation in a situation where an addiction is present. Ultimately people “become” the part they are playing.