Saturday, June 27, 2009

Finding a Way to Fit

When there's a drug addict in the family, whether it is a child or parent, everyone suffers. Often the addiction is so crippling that family members suffer as much as the addict from its effects. Support groups are provided for addicts in recovery; so too are there support groups for their family members.

Addiction is an obsession in that the addict's entire life becomes focused on getting more of the drug. In the same way, family members of the addict become obsessed with the addict: Will he come home tonight? Will he get violent? Will he go into work? Will he lose his job? Will we lose the house?

Family members tend to adapt their personas in an attempt to handle the dysfunction that the addict has created. The caretaker or enabler, for example, makes it possible for the addict to keep functioning in addiction. He may give the addict money, provide a home and food, bail the addict out of jail and in general provide a safety that the addict can depend on no matter how violent, irresponsible or hurtful the behavior.

The caretaker role is just one example. Others include the hero, who makes sure that everything appears to be fine to outsiders, the jester who tries to make light of the situation, the ghost who never comments or makes his needs known. Family members of addicts become so focused on the addict's problems that they often lose themselves along the way.

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