Alcoholism And Family Dynamics: A Closer Look at Alcoholic Family Roles

Look at Alcoholic Family Roles

Alcoholism is not a disease that affects only one individual at a time. Those closest to the alcoholic will almost always be dragged along for the journey, and everyone will suffer. In this article, you will get to know about a closer look at alcoholic family roles.

An alcoholic’s family is generally involved in developing and rehabilitating a family member’s alcohol use problem. Even though family members desire the best for each other, they can sometimes play roles that harm their loved ones trying to quit drinking. Members will generally take on one of the various alcoholic family roles.

The difficulties will only worsen if the alcoholic does not enter an alcohol detox program and become clean. Alcoholism can have a severe impact on the family dynamic as a whole, in addition to significantly impacting individual relationships between the alcoholic and their loved ones.

Roles of the Alcoholic Family System Laid Bare


The addict is the first alcoholic family role and the most destructive. Alcoholics frequently use drinking as a primary coping method for negative feelings such as anger, depression, or loneliness. They eventually acquire an alcohol addiction and are unable to stop. 

Because drinking alcohol excessively is such a big part of their lives, they will usually put it ahead of their family and even influence others to keep drinking. This alcoholic family role is especially harmful to the family and the most difficult to break.

The sad fact is the addict will influence the entire family dynamics. Dynamics will be a constant cause for concern that will manifest as stress, anxiety, and depression throughout the whole family and friends and anyone else who is a close associate of the addict.


The enabler is the family member who denies the addict has a drinking issue. They usually divert attention away from the problem by protecting the addict from the consequences of their activities. The enabler will frequently play a diplomatic position in the family, attempting to maintain a pleasant equilibrium while also sheltering the alcoholic. 

An enabling personality causes a constant back-and-forth between rehabilitation and a deeper descent into alcoholism, which wreaks havoc on an alcoholic family’s relationships. If an alcoholic is never forced to face the consequences of his or her drinking, he or she will never seek treatment for alcoholism.

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Equally if an enabler does not recognize the part they play, the circle of destruction will continue taking out anyone who stands in the way.


The scapegoat alcoholic family role is precisely what it sounds like: the member of the family who is held responsible for everything. Often, the scapegoat appears stubborn, argumentative, and enraged. 

The family member who is recognized as the scapegoat can vent their frustrations or anger at the alcoholic on others or act out at school, work, or family gatherings. Because kids may succumb to drugs and alcohol during their teenage years, the scapegoat may continue the family’s addiction cycle. 

Often, male scapegoats act out violently as they become older, whereas female scapegoats engage in promiscuous sex, stealing or self-harm.

Mascot Behaviors

The mascot’s personality is purposefully entertaining. Mascots consciously employ comedy to relieve tension between family members. In the face of their awful addiction and the resulting turmoil, the family member with this alcohol family position typically feels powerless.

The individual can be identified by the constant giggling or talking and in excitement style behaviors. These are merely a ruse to hide how they’re feeling and again can perpetuate the situation by not taking the problem seriously.

The Forgotten Family Member

The most “invisible” person in the family, usually the middle or youngest member who  takes on the role of the forgotten family member. They aren’t known for seeking attention and, as a result, slip under the radar. 

The displaced person avoids conflict and has difficulty building close relationships. They cope with stress by engaging in solitary activities that do not involve much interaction, reflecting their withdrawn attitude. 

Family members like this often go on to have their own addiction problem in the future.

The Superhero

The overachiever and perfectionist play this position in an alcoholic’s family. They use their accomplishments to try to foster a feeling of normalcy in his or her family. 

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The superhero, often the oldest child, bears the family’s flaws and strives to lead the family out of trouble. Because they place so much responsibility on themselves, the superhero archetype is under a lot of strain, leading to worry and tension.

The Long-Term Effects of Alcoholic Family Dynamics

Although the roles of family members in alcoholic families may not perfectly match these descriptions, each family member will be affected by alcohol consumption and will react differently. 

If the family of an alcoholic were a play or a show, the alcoholic would be the main character, while the other family members would be supporting characters who take on roles in response to the drinking and associated behaviors.

Taking Action

Family members might consider asking the addict to detox from Alcohol at Home. Some individuals assume that they may detox from alcohol at home. In rare circumstances, family members may arrange an intervention to coerce the addict to detox. 

Alcoholism, on the other hand, causes a substantial physical reliance on the body, and withdrawal can be painful and even life-threatening. As part of an alcohol addiction treatment schedule, alcohol detox should always be carried out under the supervision of qualified medical professionals.


The following are some of the most effective alcohol abuse and addiction treatment options:

  • Family Counseling: Families will be able to open up about the issues that may have led to their addiction during one-on-one sessions with a competent addiction counselor. 
  • The addict may engage in specialized therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) may be considered depending on the addict’s personal history and circumstances.
  • Support Groups: Group treatment brings together people suffering from the same addiction to encourage and support one another in their efforts to maintain long-term sobriety. 
  • Sober-Living Homes: A return to the patient’s previous life and environment might often provoke a relapse and upset the family. When this happens, sober-living homes are a great alternative. 

The most important thing to remember – you are not alone, help is available, and you should not try to solve family issues alone.


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