Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rules and Roles of Dysfunctional Alcoholic Family Systems

"It is my belief that what a spouse or child does while living in an alcoholic environment,they do because at the time it makes sense to them. As the problems surrounding the alcoholism cause more and more inconsistency and unpredictability in the home, the behavior of the nonalcoholic family members typically becomes an attempt to restabilize the family system."

Claudia Black, It Will Never Happen To Me, p. 5

The family system can be described as consisting of roles and rules. Typical family roles include the co-dependent, the responsible one, the adjuster, and the placater. Of course, there can be other roles but these roles are basic in alcoholic family systems.

The primary rules of alcoholic family sytems are Don't Talk, Don't Trust, Don't Feel, Don't Think.

People in alcoholic family systems play dysfunctional roles by dysfunctional rules because they provide a way to survive in a toxic and destructive environment. These rules and roles therefore, can be interpreted as adaptive and healthy. They are a sign of strength and vitality not a sign of weakness and deficiency.

Counselors have looked at the rules and roles of dysfunctional family systems as symptoms of disorder, but they can just as well be looked at as signs of adaptation, strength, skills and competencies.

The roles and rules of dysfunctional alcoholic family systems have their place and serve their purpose. It is how they are used and the dysfunctional systems they maintain that are the problem, not the roles and rules in themselves.

This is article #13 in a series on Substance Abuse The Family Disease

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