Even though it may have been a long time ago; what you had to do, in order to survive growing up with a parent struggling with an addiction, could be affecting your ability to lead a full and rich life now.
Parents who are addicted to drugs or alcohol go through emotional withdrawal. As the addiction sets in, people don’t see the real world clearly and begin to focus more on their substance of choice.
A result of classic addiction patterns are patterns of narcissism and manipulation. But, with a dependent, they draw away because the person can’t experience emotions as deeply. This impacts a child’s development, especially if they are very young. Children often withdraw, are unable to talk about their emotions, and become quite stressed.
Parents with addictions are more likely to adopt harsher parenting styles, are prone to physical and emotional abuse, even accidental, and tend to not be present.
This creates an environment where the child takes care of themselves, adapts parenting-like roles, and experience trauma and stress, which can cause lifelong psychological damage and disorders such as depression, inhibition problems, higher risk of addiction and social behavioural problems.
Children of addicts usually face trauma including instability, car accidents, violence, domestic abuse, parental mood swings, parents overdosing, breaking the law and so forth. Even in households with high-functioning addicts, children still will suffer from trauma.
Changing Family Hierarchy and Roles
Several changes inside a family dynamic occur due to addictions. For example, addiction causes less parental attention, even if one parent isn’t using because they must take care of the addicted parent. As a result, children are left upset, without guidance, and are likely to act out.
Family roles become more damaged when both parents struggle with addiction. The children are forced to take on responsibilities for themselves, caring for their parents, doing housework and cooking/cleaning, and taking care of their other siblings.
Higher Risk of Addiction
A child who grows up in a household with an addict is more likely to form addiction and suffer from trauma. This is a crucial and important factor in addiction. Children of addicts are frequently exposed to a drug or alcohol, seeing it used, having access to it, which makes them more likely to try the substance on their own.
Break the Cycle
If you or your partner is an addict, you are actively hurting your children. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Contact us for treatment for yourself, your partner, and your family.