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Papers should be 4 to 5 pages not including the title page and references. No abstract will be required for these papers. Papers must be in APA style format. See the rubric for further details on the assignment. Please include at least 3 references for the papers. Please choose from the topics below for your paper or create a new topic, Please review with me prior to choosing your own topic.============ I attach the requirements and sample paper. Please take a look before doing it

Requirements: 5-7pages

The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Family System

Example Paper

Holy Family University

The Impact of Substance Abuse on the Family System

Although substance abuse impacts the abuser, impacts of substance abuse travel farther than most people may assume. Substance abuse has prolonged effects not only on the user but also on their family system as a whole. As counselors, it is imperative to study the effects that a substance use disorder has on family relationships. Where there is an impact, there comes learning and growth. Families learn to adapt to their family members’ relationships and dependence with a substance. The impact will affect each family system differently. The effects and circumstances will also differ from family to family. From a counseling perspective, taking a closer look at how the family system operated before the disorder is essential in understanding how the family will function in the present. It is also essential as a counselor to look for patterns of support, communication, and an overall understanding of the disorder (Low 2019). Another approach that demonstrates how this abuse affects family systems is through research done on The Family Systems Theory. This theory was established in the late 1960s and early 1970s; it aims at understanding how family systems are established, which can help to identify ways in which to avoid future conflict. The models in this system all share the common goal of understanding how the individual currently functions within their family system. Additionally, it is important to identify and understand the impact that these disorders have on the family system. Substance abuse does not discriminate, and unfortunately, it can lead to significant life events in the forms of tarnished marriages and emotional backlash.

The Family Systems Theory

The Family Systems Theory brings various significant points in regards to working with someone with a substance abuse disorder. Naturally, all families function differently. However, what is universal is that when substance abuse is thrown into the mix of any family, there is often a shift in the roles that have already been established. In response to this, there are five distinctive roles that family members will take on when a loved one is affected by addiction. These include The Enabler, The Hero, The Scapegoat, The Mascot, and The Lost Child (Low 2019). All of these roles affect the abusers’ life. In terms of The Enabler, these members are usually those who have no previous or present history of substance use or abuse. These individuals often take on the current responsibilities that the addict cannot, including finances and childcare (Lander, Laura, et al.). Members in this role often find themselves justifying the actions of their loved ones. Oftentimes, they downplay the seriousness of the addiction and make excuses for their loved one’s actions. As a result of these actions, they are not making successful efforts to get their family members the necessary support. The next role of the family is The Hero. The Hero is usually older and has a serious outlook on their own life. They are self-assured in their choices, making them some of the easiest people to rely on (Low 2019). Members fulfilling this role are often found taking on the responsibilities of the household as if they were the “parent” or primary caregiver. Ironically, it is these people that are rarely a parental figure. The Hero is often aware of the problem at hand in terms of the addiction and makes efforts to fix this problem on their own. Next is The Scapegoat, who most often represents the misbehaved family member. This person often has difficulties in the home, as well as outside settings like school or work. As The Scapegoat progresses through his or her life, problems start to turn more serious, sometimes resulting in trouble with the law. People in this role often act out as a result of a disordered household, while also seeking attention because of the lack of stability in the present moment. The next role is considered The “Mascot.” As the name presents, this role is self-explanatory. The Mascot typically uses their witty side as a coping mechanism in the disturbed family system. Concurrently, humor is used as a brief relief to uncomfortable situations and experiences. Through the act of using these coping mechanisms, The Mascot helps to maintain a comfortable living situation. The last role of the family system is considered to be The Lost Child. This role is fulfilled by someone who is significantly isolated from the other members of the family. They often have little to no interaction with outside peers, as well as family members. The Lost Child finds it difficult to put themselves in social settings, as they frequently become anxious. These are typically people with big imaginations; however, they often keep to themselves. The roles of the family in addiction have a great deal of impact on how addiction manifests itself. When a person struggling with addiction enters the family system, it throws off the current system as the family once knew it. A person struggling with addiction may feel an enormous amount of guilt and shame for putting their loved ones through such circumstances. It often takes time for the addict to recognize that their actions have a direct impact on their family system; however, by allowing new roles to take place, the family systems start to become restored to a new standard.

Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships

When addiction coincides with marriage or other intimate relationships, there are a plethora of potential outcomes. In many current relationships, there is a member in active addiction while the other is sober or non-abusive of a substance. As a result of this addiction, marriages and relationships are strained or even worse, ruined. Unfortunately, there come points in time when the addiction takes total control of a relationship. The active user may bring strain to their relationships by lying about their whereabouts, abusing a substance, or deceitfully spending money. Commonly, financial instability is a big consequence of abusing a substance. This instability starts to impede on close familial relationships. When this occurs, family members, often spouses, take on the financial responsibility. Susan Gadoua from Psychology Today states that as many as 12.5 million spouses are suffering from a limited array of addictions. This article also writes about the unfortunate reality that while some stay optimistic and remain a unit battling the addiction together, many of these relationships will end in divorce. Not only does addiction have financial effects on the relationship, but addiction also can result in domestic violence. As much as 75% of all reported domestic violence results from one or more parties using a substance. However, domestic violence or abuse is not always a consequence of substance abuse as not all addicts become violent (Berman 2019). It is evident that intimate relationships are mangled when addiction is thrown into the equation; however, it is important to know that there are ways to make things right on both ends.

Emotional Impact

The emotional impact of the abuse of a substance is very intense. This powerful force takes control of families, intimate relationships, and professional relationships. It is extremely uncommon for a family to not be affected by their loved one’s addiction. The emotional trauma that is a byproduct of addiction takes on many forms. The emotional impacts of the abuse include both the user and the family system. As for the active user, there comes a point where they begin to feel that they have no connections with the people surrounding them. As a result, this causes extreme sadness, guilt, and emotional pain. As relationships begin crumbling, so does destructive behavior and thinking. Often, this puts the active user in a darker place than they currently are, and they begin feeling a lack of love and support from the people around them. Concerning The Family Systems Theory, all families function uniquely. One sentiment that unites all family systems is that all families will struggle in the wake of addiction. The functions of the family system are often disrupted due to the addiction and ultimately, forced to change from their norms. While emotional trauma usually results in negative consequences, it may also result in steps to new beginnings. The most successful outcomes for these relationships come from both the active user and the family members coming together. Through giving the user support, the user has a better chance of succeeding and aiming at recovery.


The abuse of a substance has many negative effects on how the family system operates. The Family Systems Theory states that all family systems function very differently but are also united in many commonalities. The family’s way of reacting to the addiction sets the forefront of the new norm. Alongside family, intimate relationships are also at risk when a partner has a substance use disorder. Understanding how to work through current struggles could ultimately make or break an intimate relationship impacted by addiction. The emotional trauma brings everything full circle. When addiction gets moved into any family system, the addict, as well as those around them, are impacted greatly.


Berman, Bruce. “Substance Abuse and the Impact on the Family System.” Beginnings Treatment Centers, 5 Sept. 2018,

Gadoua, Susan P. “So You’re Married to An Addict: Is Divorce Inevitable?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Sept. 2011,

Lander, Laura, et al. “The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice.” Social Work in Public Health, vol. 28, no. 3-4, 27 July 2013, pp. 194–205., doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.759005.

Low, Marni. “Substance Abuse and the Impact on the Family System.” Drug Rehab Options, 9 Dec. 2019,

Papers (100 points)

Papers should be submitted through Canvas on or before the due date. Papers should be 4 to 5 pages not including

title page and references. No abstract will be required for these papers. Papers must be in APA style format. See

rubric for further details on assignment. Please include at least 3 references for the papers. Please choose from the

topics below for your paper or create a new topic, please review with me prior to choosing your own topic

Paper Rubric (100 points)