Many people who grew up around alcoholism or addiction may find it challenging to notice old patterns which keep addiction from healing. Learning to cope with family dysfunction is one of the best ways to work at overcoming addiction which starts with emotional health.
Emotional health is the way people learn to practice self care. Typically this happens in the context of family but many family systems and dynamics make this challenging. Often one’s own needs are ignored to deal with a family member struggling with addiction, with the focus on that person’s needs first. Dysfunction can quickly eat away at the self esteem of others involved in the family.
Healthy Families, Thriving Families
Most people can imagine a structure that is at least one adult in charge of the household while children fall underneath the parents. This healthy system support adults providing structure, guidance and protection while younger children learn from the elders. Younger children are not likely to thrive in an environment where they are alone or in charge of personal development due to lack of maturity.
What Happens with Addicted Families
In homes where addiction or alcoholism occurs, the family structure might look as expected but the family function is broken. Parents who have addiction are not able to provide for children. Children do not receive guidance and structure and, instead, take on the roles of adults in the household. This is typically a dysfunctional structure because it creates a dynamic where children are expected to shoulder adult responsibilities. Denial of addiction runs deep within the root system of a family and children do not have the opportunity to learn what it means to be inside of an emotionally healthy family. The children may grow up without understanding the difference in family roles. Expectations for parents to care for children and model good behavior are set inside certain parameters so children feel safe and emotionally connected. When the roles are reversed or non-existent, the disconnect becomes such that the adult’s needs come before the children’s needs and it is hard for children to feel needs are met.
Steps to Emotional Health
To get back on track in a dysfunctional family, there are three steps to guide the way to emotional health.
Identify the role
Identify the learned behavior that occurred in a family and what the child was responsible for growing up. Ask the following questions: who is taken care of and in what ways did the child provide care? This will help bridge understanding as to what occurred growing up.
Understand the consequences of taking on jobs or responsibilities not appropriately the child’s. Was the child able to spend time doing homework, playing with friends or did the child have to take on responsibilities early like jobs or other skills to survive?
Adapt and change personal beliefs and behaviors
Acting based on who a person is and what the role is can be crucial to correcting past experiences in a dysfunctional family. This is difficult but it can lead to exponential emotional growth. Draw a picture and figure out where the child fits in. Personal development comes from taking the time to see where an individual fits into a family structure and what role he or she wants to play. Every person deserves to thrive in a family, rather than play a role assigned by someone else due to a dysfunctional upbringing. The choice as an adult rests within the individual’s hands to take ownership of his or her life.
At Cypress Lakes Lodge, we bring integrative therapies to life during treatment. Our unique vision of synergizing holistic and therapeutic treatment creates an effective treatment program for addiction and dual diagnosis issues. Call us today for more information, at 1-877-938-1577