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The Dynamics of the Addicted Family Instructor: Craig Nakken, MSW.

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Presentation on theme: "The Dynamics of the Addicted Family Instructor: Craig Nakken, MSW."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Dynamics of the Addicted Family Instructor: Craig Nakken, MSW


3 Addiction Counseling Involves Monitoring Different Systems At The Same Time Counselor must monitor the psychological system of the individual as they work with the addictive system. Counselor must monitor the addictive system as they deal with the psychological system. (This is the reason traditional psychotherapy often fails with addicts.) When working with the family, the counselor must monitor a third system-- the family system

4 TRAITS OF A HEALTHY FAMILY The healthy family admits to and seeks help. The healthy family communicates and listens. The healthy family affirms and supports one another. The healthy family teaches respect for others. The healthy family exhibits a sense of shared responsibility. The healthy family teaches a sense of right and wrong. The healthy family has a strong sense of family in which rituals and traditions abound. The healthy family has a balance of interaction among members. The healthy family has a shared religious core. The healthy family respects the privacy of one another. The healthy family values service to others. The healthy family fosters table time and conversation. The healthy family shares leisure time.

5 What happens to a family when the illness of addiction enters into and starts to take control of the system? Addiction, like any other major illness, is a more powerful system than most families -- the family must adjust to it

6 Change In Family Homeostasis As Addiction Enters System Addiction Value-Centered Family System (+) Addictive-Centered Family System (-) Restrictive Rigid Closed Power-based instead of values-based

7 Four Basic Tenets Of Addictive Families Addictive families are behavioral systems in which addiction and addictive- related behaviors have become central organizing principles around which family life is structured. The introduction of addiction into family life has the potential to profoundly alter the balance that exists between growth and regulation within the family. Most often, the family becomes skewed in the direction of an emphasis on short-term stability at the expense of long-term growth. The impact of addiction on family systemic functioning is most clearly seen in the types of changes that occur in regulatory behaviors as the family gradually accommodates family life to the coexistent demands of addiction. The types of alterations that occur in regulatory behaviors can in turn be seen to profoundly influence the overall shape of family growth and development ---- changes in the normative family life cycle that we now call “development distortions.” Peter Steinglass, M.D. with Linda Bennett, Ph.D., Steven Wohin, M.D., David Reiss, M.D. The Alcoholic Family

8 Virginia Satir’s Concept: Self-Other Dilemma We first experience this self-other dilemma in our families. We are taught to put aside self for the needs of the family “Me versus We” The self-other dilemma refers to the human conflict between our needs of self-interest and the need we have to be in relationships with others. If we overvalue individualism we never fully resolve this dilemma.

9 “An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal.”

10 Powerlessness = pain = entitlement Alienation Learned Helplessness The professional victim distorts powerlessness, making it seem like a virtue.

11 Victim Trap Characteristics of: Compulsively rehashing the damage you have suffered --> bound tight by past you are trying to escape from Energy is wasted in blaming & fault-finding (covertly keeps you tied to old structure of the system you are trying to separate from) End up repeating and can become the next generation of victim / victimizer Can end up preoccupied with your faults and weaknesses Hard to see variations Promise of sympathy is part of the Victim Trap Seek out victim status --> can become hooked to one’s own pain, but don’t see it as one’s own Identity can get formed around being a victim Once you see yourself as a victim, entitlement comes into play --> often leads to giving oneself covert permission to victimize others Doesn’t allow all the pieces of the past to come together and complete the picture Children are seen as only vulnerable, helpless and locked into and onto a family; insult to the reslient child

12 Benefits of Being a Victim There is one benefit: 1.You get to escape guilt, diffuse responsible. Costs of being a victim: 1.You have to sustain an ever-growing feeling of resentment. 2.You must see yourself as terminally different from others. 3.Intermittent but intense bouts of self-pity.

13 Course of Therapy for Typical Alcoholic Family Stage I Diagnosing alcoholism and labeling it a family problem Stage II Removing alcohol from the family system Stage III The emotional desert Stage IV Family restabilization versus family reorganization From: The Alcoholic Family By: Peter Steinglass, M.D. with Linda Bennett, Ph.D., Steven Wolin, M.D., David Reiss, M.D.

14 Addictive Families Become Shame Bound System A shame bound family is a family where we all feel alone together

15 “Shame is an inner sense of being completely diminished or insufficient as a person. It is the self judging the self. A moment of shame may be humiliation so painful or an indignity so profound that one feels one has been robbed of her or his dignity or exposed as basically inadequate, bad, or worthy of rejection.” --M. Fossum & M. Mason. Facing Shame--

16 Etiology Of Shame Often starts when a person’s thoughts, feelings or physical being are being treated like an object or a thing Or when a person experiences events that they are not developmentally ready to experience and can’t incorporate into their being Can start when person has their powerlessness regularly held in front of them so that they can’t escape the feeling

17 Rules That Govern Shame-Bound Family Merle Fossum and Marilyn J. Mason’s book: Facing Shame:Families in Recovery 1.Be in control of all behavior and interactions. 2.Perfection: always be “right.” Do the “right” thing. 3.If something doesn't happen as you planned, blame someone (yourself or someone else). 4.Deny feelings, especially the negative and vulnerable ones like anxiety, fear, loneliness, grief, rejection, neediness and caring. 5.Unreliability: don't expect reliability and consistency in relationships. 6.Incompleteness: don't complete transactions. 7.No talk rule: don't talk openly about disrespectful, shameful, or compulsive behavior. 8.When disrespectful, shameful, abusive or compulsive behavior occurs, use disqualification or denial to reframe or disguise it.

18 Additional Rules That Are Found Within Shame Bound Family If there is pain, then someone must pay You are not allowed to emotionally grow past the shame without leaving the family or being seen by family as a traitor


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