Steps to Protect Emotional Health Against Family Dysfunction


dysfunction-families-addictionGrowing up around alcoholism can create dysfunction in the way a person behaves and responds to the world. Coping it with in an emotionally healthy way is important to keeping safe boundaries. Learn some of the steps to protect emotional health.

Emotional Health

Emotional health is a way of doing things that helps individuals practice good self care. Being raised in a dysfunctional family can teach people from an early age to ignore personal needs and focus on the individual with greater needs at one’s own expense. Emotional dysfunction can be created within a family system that does not support positive personal growth and development.

Healthy Families

At least one parent will be in charge in any given household that is functioning in a healthy way and the children will be subordinate to the adult. The adults provide structure, guidance, protection and support for the younger children who do not have the maturity to do so themselves. Survival may be possible but to thrive, adults must be present in a good, healthy manner to provide proper support and care.

Dysfunctional Families

In homes where alcoholism or addiction are present, the family structure is broken. Parents who have addiction are not able to care for children and do not provide guidance and structure. Emotional roles go to kids who care for the adults. Denial of addiction and its ramifications run down to the very roots of the family structure and kids grow up learning to understand roles differently in these homes as compared to healthy family situations. Children have to become highly aware of tending to the needs of others and may ultimately fail to get what is needed to become a healthy, vibrant adult who tends to his or her own needs and can be in healthy relationship with others.

3 Steps for Emotional Health

Learning to build emotional health takes effort and time. The most important things to remember are the following:

Identify the role

It is best to identify the role a person has learned within the family. Figure out what the responsibility is, who is responsible for it and who is being taken care of in the home. The questions will help build understanding of the current situation and determine where to go from there.

Examine consequences

The consequences of taking on responsibilities that are misappropriated can have long lasting ramifications. If a child takes on adult responsibility, it can feel ‘normal,’ even if it is not. Think about the ways things were at home and compare to what is typical for a child of that age and whether it was meant to build skills or necessary for survival.

Adapt and change beliefs or behaviors

Acting based on who a person is takes time and diligence. This is the hardest part of being emotionally health. Think about whether it is one’s job to do the things given in the home. It may be obvious or less so but over time it will become apparent what feels right and what does not. Learning to adapt and change beliefs or patterns that are not healthy is the key to moving towards better emotional health.

Resilience takes time for those who grew up with addiction or dysfunction in the home. Learning to say no to what is not one’s responsibility takes the pressure off and is important to building emotional health and wellness.

Sustain Recovery provides support for young people needing time to recover from addiction. Gender Separate Extended Care treatment is provided for clients completing a primary treatment program or those needing a longer-term solution. Minimum length of stay is 90 days, sometimes longer depending on the individual’s needs. Call us to find out how we can help you or a loved one.