When someone contracts a serious behaviour or substance use disorder, it usually has a ripple-effect that implicates many other people and entities. Apart from the impact on household members and intimate partners, it also involves extended family, friends, employers, co-workers, acquaintances and other satellite groups, including agencies that provide protection, support and remediation services.

Family advisory service

Contact us for advice about support options for dysfunctional families and referrals to service providers suitable for your circumstances.

Protection of family members

Some public institutions prioritise the protection of weaker family members in dysfunctional households by separating them from other family members and, in the process, dismantling the family unit. Internal policies condition them to respond with rapid protective measures, but they are often unable to implement the more complex processes of rehabilitation and reunification of family members.

Restoration of family unity

While vulnerable family members must be protected when a family is disrupted by dysfunctional dynamics, the ideal conclusion, after securing the safety of victims, is the resolution of conflicts and the eventual restoration of family bonds in a cohesive, harmonious family unit. This balanced, whole-family rehabilitation approach is difficult to implement, but desirable and often achievable.

Support for distressed families

Impact groups that help families in distress to overcome their obstacles include voluntary community support groups, as well as random charitable initiatives that freely contribute to their welfare. Higher support echelons include state and private health care entities, as well as institutions that provide medical and psychological research, education, interventions and remedies.

Family impact group dynamics

Families can be severely destabilised by household members inflicted with chronic behaviour or substance use disorders. The actions of one person can lead to complications for individual members, who may resort to further dysfunctions to cope with the circumstances, thus amplifying the chaos within the family unit.

People in close contact with afflicted persons can become codependents. They do not directly indulge in the behaviour, but enable the afflicted to continue with their unhealthy activities. They contribute in different ways, for different reasons, but they all experience a degree of consequential discomfort.

Children from dysfunctional homes often suffer lifelong disorders, due to early adoption of unhealthy survival mechanisms that evolve into fixed personality traits. Teens in post-divorce situations also have to cope with dual households, multiple caretakers and blended sibling relationships. As their normal transition to adulthood is tempestuous in itself, early symptoms of developmental trauma are often dismissed as part of growing up and are not resolved.

Sometimes elderly parents and adult children cohabit or are financially interdependent. If either party indulges in unhealthy activities it exposes both to unique problems, including critical relationships with the adult child’s spouse and affinity family.

Dysfunctional family members tend to associate with others who share the same affliction. They seek out peer groups and romantic partners whom they identify with. Their friendship circles reinforce their behaviour and their romantic partnerships are often unstable.

Impacted satellite groups include extended family members who may avoid the disordered household, despite anguish about it. Friends, employers and co-workers are often compromised. Educational entities must deal with student problems and judicial systems must attend to legal issues involving dysfunctional families.

Many distinct voluntary community groups provide empathic support for adults and children affected by disorders and family dysfunctions. They are also especially effective for long-term prevention of relapses.

Medical and psychological practitioners, government and private hospitals and clinics, as well as rehabilitation centres, offer a wide range of out-patient and residential treatment procedures for alleviating disorders and dysfunctional family situations.

Other options include halfway houses, self-help procedures and home-care for people who prefer not to attend formal health care programs, but it is prudent to obtain advice from trained health practitioners before committing to it.

Call for action

You can help a dysfunctional family, and all those affected by it, by simply calling us for advice and referrals to suitable sources that can help you to resolve disorders and restore family harmony in accordance with your circumstances.

Disclaimer: Media publications concerning health matters are generalised for a broad audience. It is essential to obtain specific advice for your personal circumstances from a suitably qualified health professional.