“Bad Parents,” “Codependents,” and Other Stigmatizing Myths About Substance Use Disorder in the Family

  • Carrie WilkensEmail author
  • Jeffrey Foote


Stigma associated with substance use disorder (SUD) is well documented but less well described for family members of those struggling. Through a variety of mechanisms, including closeness, unusualness, and blame, family is implicated through stigma by association. This is especially true for parents as there is an assumption of poor parenting and poor “family values” by both those outside the family and parents themselves, resulting in poorer mental and physical health outcomes for families, as well as social isolation and a lack of help seeking. There is also the presence of specific stigmatizing language associated with families, including labels such as “codependent” and “enabling,” which further isolate families. Broader dissemination of evidence-based family approaches such as Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) could help shift stigmatizing understanding and attitudes, as could the development of peer-to-peer coaching utilizing evidence-based strategies.


Evidence-based Stigma Codependent Enabling CRAFT Family therapy 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Center for Motivation and ChangeNew YorkUSA

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