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The Hero | Understanding Co-Dependency And Family Roles In Addiction

The Hero – The “Hero” role in a family system is often someone who is an over-achiever and always right. The addiction problem is seen as a challenge that the hero needs to solve themselves — though are not qualified to do so.

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FAMILY ROLES

The Hero

Why Do Some Family Members Sabatoge Addiction Interventions and Recovery Efforts?

"The Hero" is a family role in which a family sabotages efforts for recovery, because he or she thinks they need to be the one to solve the family's problems.

The Hero | Understanding Co-Dependency And Family Roles In Addiction

Each individual in a family system will have their quirks and their own personality characteristics. The problem comes when these personality traits overshadow the true problem at hand. A family member — who is often the over-achiever, strives to be perfect, and considers themselves always right — can actually derail efforts for recovery by stealing the spotlight and trying to make themselves the center of the family’s attention.

It is the job of an addiction interventionist to separate the Hero’s problems within the family from the problems of the addict and the need for recovery. The focus of the family needs to return to the addict/alcoholic who needs immediate help.

"The Hero tries to sabotage an intervention because he/she needs to be the one to fix the problems."

"The Hero (the overachiever in the family) many times harbors resentment toward the alcoholic or drug addict."

Resentments Towards Alcoholic or Drug Addicted Family Members

The Hero (almost) always gets resentful when when it comes time to talk about or deal with the addiction issues in a family member. Again, the individual in this role wants to steal the spotlight. They need to make the issue about themselves, and how they wouldn’t have let it get this far, or they have a better idea to fix the issue. It becomes about them, when addiction is all about the addict.

Remember, “The Hero” is not a hero at all, that is just what they are trying to be in the situation.



The Hero is comfortable in drama and chaos, and usually have become immune to it, so they often use it to their advantage. Drama in the family can be a smokescreen, covering the real issues. When a family member assumes”The Hero” role, they are not helping the situation and very rarely turn out to be the real hero in the situation.

Convincing A Family Member that They are Making Addiction Worse

Simply put, The Hero is not helping the situation, they are only making it worse. It may be hard for the family to tell this individual to “butt out,” but it is essential to remove this person, the drama they create, and their own separate personality or character issues from the circle of immediate issues. Addiction is difficult enough to sort through without adding the deep emotional issues of another loved one into the mix. Because family members cannot see the issues objectively, and try and tackle all the problems together as a family, they often fail to address any of the issues effectively.

"The Hero" in Practice

Siblings are most likely to fill the roles of The Addict and The Hero. We will use the example of brothers — as is often the case. Two brothers are polar opposites of each other. Brother #1 is the addict, has always struggled through life, and the parents have always rushed to help him when he gets into trouble.

Brother #2 was always an overachiever, when to Yale, is now very successful, and strives to have the perfect life, family, job, and possessions… the picture is starting to paint itself now, as you can see.

Brother #2 is successful in everything he does and can’t understand why Brother #1 has such a hard time in life. Not only does Brother #2 resent #1 for not understanding and having all the right answers like he has, but he also resents the attention that #1 receives for his shortcomings.

We could follow this  example story further, but — as you can see — the problem of drug and alcohol abuse has already been lost in a sea of other familial problems.

Does This Situation Seem Familiar?

Unfortunately, this is the situation in many families, and it causes confusing and devastating cycle of inaction in the family. The problem of addiction and getting help for the addict cannot be focused on, because there are deeper issues that the family is experiencing, and need to tackle first.

Families have the right intent with trying to work through substance abuse and addiction problems themselves, but simply can’t see through their own problems objectively. Addiction Interventionists objectively sort through the issues within the family, separate non-productive family members and their unrelated issues, and focus on the fact that the addicted family member has a deadly disease.

Yes! My Family Is In This Situation and Need Help!

Call Us Now to Learn More About How We Can Help

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Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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Addicts and alcoholics have taught their families everything they know about their addiction and how to handle it. We understand that a single person addicted to drugs or alcohol is easier to help than 5 or more family members who are addicted to their loved one through codependency. We understand the dynamics of a complex family system that has been hijacked by their loved one through emotional manipulation.

Families tend to focus their efforts on talking their loved ones into treatment or waiting for them to go on their own. We help educate the family on how they have made the addiction more comfortable and in a way that does not help the addicted person get well. We can only change what we have control over, and that is our own behavior.

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