What types of alcoholic family types are in today's society?

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Answered by: Jenna, An Expert in the Get Help Category
A non-alcoholic family has the ability to tolerate differences. It also has flexibility. Its members have respect for each other, well-defined physical and emotional boundaries, clear communications and a lack of shame-based expectations.

In a family where alcoholism is present, family life ceases to be functional. Alcoholism generates abnormal family dynamics. Subconsciously, everyone in the family adjusts to the alcoholic by fulfilling a special role that enables the alcoholic to continue drinking. Alcoholic family types are high on the list of dysfunctional families.

Certain characters or roles emerge in alcoholic family types:

1. The "Sick One" - The family adapts to and revolves around the dysfunction of the sick one.

2. The "Hero" - This family member excels and brings pride to the family. The Hero is usually co-dependent and often gets involved with someone they need to rescue, like an alcoholic or addict.

3. The "Scapegoat" - This family member is the "black sheep" - the one who acts out to draw attention away from the alcoholic.

4. The "Enabler" - This family member becomes obsessed with the sick one. She over functions for the alcoholic's under functioning. She will often become a pill addict. Her emotional pain manifests itself as anxiety. In the alcoholic family, one person gets sicker, and the Enabler gets sicker right along with him. If the Enabler doesn't break down emotionally, she will often break down physically. It is not uncommon to find an Enabler getting major physical illnesses, having heart attacks, fibromyalgia, or auto-immune diseases because her emotional pain stored in her body.

5. The "Lost Child" - This is the child who is not seen, blends into the woodwork, and, therefore, gets very few needs met. She will often become depressed and withdrawn.

6. The "Mascot" - This is often baby of the family, the family clown, and everybody focuses all their energy on babying him and making his life easy.

The alcoholic family system revolves around the "Sick One." To the extent they are dysfunctional, they will create energy around that dysfunction to keep it going. When things move away from that dysfunction, the energy is such that they will try to restore it to that initial level of dysfunction.

A person who grows up in an alcoholic family, is not free to be himself. He gets locked into a role. He is expected to take on a role that supports the dysfunction. The role becomes him, rather than him becoming a health, unique addition to the family. This child exists to support the family, rather than the family existing to support the child.

In the family with alcoholism, its members are usually enmeshed, meaning that one person can't tell where he leaves off and the next family member begins. Each family member feels shame in the form of not feeling "good enough."

The members of the family of an alcoholic may not even realize that their family is not normal. When the children leave home, they are unable to function in healthy relationships and end up passing the same dysfunction on to future generations.

When there is an alcoholic in a family, the household becomes an alcoholic family type. The only way for a normal life is for the alcoholic family member to enter alcohol rehabilitation and maintain this recovery for the rest of his life. The rest of the family will need ongoing psychological counseling and family therapy. Otherwise the situation is hopeless.

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