How Do Family Dynamics Affect Addiction?

Recovery professionals have long acknowledged a correlation between family dynamics and addiction. Substance use affects both the individual in need of recovery and the family members affected by their addiction. Addiction will almost certainly cause strain on relationships, regardless of whether you’re a parent, a minor, or young adult. As one’s addiction gets worse and worse, so do the interpersonal relationships between family and friends. 

If you’re a concerned family member, there are steps you can take to help get your loved one the support they need. Good communication, encouragement, love and outside therapeutic support can set your family up for success. Family dynamics can be incredibly complex and difficult to diagnose. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help from a licensed family therapist/counselor. They often act as an impartial third party that provides a level headed approach to help your family resolve interpersonal conflict. Before you attempt to intervene yourself, consider asking for outside support.


How Is Family Therapy Helpful?

Addiction isn’t just a disease that affects the person afflicted. More often than not, it affects the entire family. The goal of family therapy is to allow a safe and supportive environment for all members to openly communicate their experiences with one another. During this process, family members can learn how their actions have helped support or hurt their loved one’s addiction. Moreover, one of the most common family dynamics at play is codependency. Beyond financial support, love and interconnectedness, each family member usually takes on a certain role. The two most common are the “hero” and “scapegoat.”

The “hero” is the person who usually helps resolve any family conflicts and is perceived as high functioning and well-adjusted. Conversely, the “scapegoat” is typically the member who receives blame for wrongdoing. This family member can often feel unloved or unwelcome within their family. To help address some of the common family roles and obstacles, therapists will tend to focus on some combination of the following topics:

  • Grief
  • Domestic violence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Physical or emotional trauma
  • Mental health
  • Improving family function
  • LGBTQ challenges
  • Substance use
  • Relationship dynamics


The complexity surrounding family dynamics and substance use is profound. That’s why our organization focuses on how to best help both the person struggling with addiction and their family members. To learn more about our program, contact us today!