Family can be described as a unit of people that functions in a system. This system is dynamic, complex and can vary from family to family. “Normal” family systems are also described as functional, or healthy. These family systems are often comprised of structure, clear family goals, rules, mores, and boundaries (Walsh, 2003). However, even the most functional family is not immune from the effects of addiction. Addiction affects the family structure and often results in the creation of new family goals, rules, boundaries and coping strategies. This occurs as a result of the family’s attempt to create homeostasis and developing coping strategies within the family system (Black, 2006; McCollum & Trepper, 2001; SAMHSA, 2004; Treadway, 1989).
The family system can become particularly stressed in the event of adolescent substance development of family roles. Additionally, the family system is affected by the family’s cultural background and its response to addiction within the family (Black, 2006; McCollum & Trepper, 2001; SAMHSA, 2004; Treadway, 1989). This paper will discuss the purpose of family roles within the addiction family system, examine cultural responses to family addiction, and discuss options for adolescent treatment interventions.