Addiction is a complicated subject, and although it has the most concentrated impact on an individual person, it can also affect their relationship with others, including their friends and family. Parents, children, siblings, and partners can all be touched by the addiction of a loved one in their own specific ways.
Family members may try to manage or address the presence of addiction themselves, but this doesn’t always manifest in healthy or positive behaviour. Many families make the decision to seek the counsel of community support workers (CSWs) to better understand how to manage and respond to their loved one’s experiences with addiction. While addiction affects every family differently, there are a few things you should be aware of if you’re thinking of becoming a community support worker. Read on to find out what you should know.
Individual Roles Have a Significant Affect on a Family’s Response to Addiction
Members of a family are not passive witnesses to a loved one living with an addiction; instead, think of them as actors, with a specific role to play. These roles influence common patterns of behaviour, from how opinions and feelings are expressed or suppressed, to how a family addresses or avoids conflict.
Students at Oxford College can use their training to better understand family dynamics
Family members may react differently in their attempt to avoid discussing addiction. An enabler, for example, might try to shield the person living with addiction from experiencing any consequences by minimizing their actions or pretending nothing is wrong. They may respond this way because they feel guilt or shame, but this type of response only encourages the individual with the addiction to continue their negative behaviour. The mascot—another common role seen in families experiencing addiction—may try to lighten the mood with a joke or diffuse a situation with humour because they are embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Understanding the role that each individual family member plays within their unit is an important part of understanding the family dynamics you will encounter in a CSW course. It can help community support workers identify problems within the family dynamic, as well as find appropriate solutions which encourage healthier behaviour.
Students in a CSW Course Know that a Family’s Sense of Security is Important
The chaotic nature of addiction means that it can disrupt many areas within a family, including their normal routines, daily interactions, and the order of the family itself, which is why one of the first steps you should take is to work to create a sense of security within the family dynamic.
Many families want to preserve the ‘normal’ state of things because it provides a sense of stability and safety. The presence of someone living with an addiction, however, can warp this desire to encourage negative behaviour such as denial or projecting blame onto other family members. This can cause distrust in a family, which affects their overall sense of security. If a family feels as if they cannot trust each other, their relationships all suffer as a result, and the family unit becomes more destabilized.
Community service workers can help families process and manage subjects like addiction
Addressing issues of trust can help get a family on the path towards healthy solutions. In order to establish a sense of security, community service workers should emphasize the importance of awareness and acceptance. A community service worker program can help you better understand the ways to create a nonjudgmental atmosphere which encourages family members to share their thoughts and feelings and express how addiction has affected them, which leads to a more open and healthier family dynamic.
Are you interested in getting the training you need to help families in need of professional support?
Contact Oxford College for more information about earning your community service worker diploma.