Growing up with parents who are addicted to harmful substances like drugs and alcohol or harmful behaviors like sex or gambling addiction, is chaotic. Addiction, of any kind, is a mental illness, one that is irrational, irresponsible, and entirely self-centered. Of course, parents need to have a life of their own and make balanced private time for themselves and their partners. However, addiction tends to tip the scales, causing an unbalanced home in which everything revolves around the addicted parent.
When the addicted parent is in control, everything has to be in their control. Children are free-willed and free-spirited, which can be problematic and even threatening to a parent with addiction problems. A child might tell someone what goes on at home, feel something that is triggering, or disobey rules that are critical to protecting a grown-up’s addiction.
The two threats of growing up in an addicted home:
Speaking. To speak is to incriminate, assign blame, or possibly point out the problems being faced. Healthy families communicate openly. In an addicted household, words are considered fatal. A parent who is under the influence doesn’t want to hear about it and a parent who is sober doesn’t want to hear about it. Speaking means acknowledging the problem and needing to turn to a solution. For a parent attempting to maintain control in order to perpetuate their problem, solutions need to be avoided at all costs- including abuse and punishment.
Trusting. Addiction is full of ups and downs. There will be periods of no use, periods of heavy use, and periods of moderate use. Not only is addiction unpredictable, but the mood swings addiction causes are as well. How a parent seems one day could quickly switch by the afternoon or the next morning. Promises are broken, commitments are rarely followed through, and the “one day I’ll quit” never comes.
Children who grow up in an addicted home have a higher risk for developing chemical dependency problems in the future. To cope with their experiences, they might turn to the same substances or behaviors which seemed to take away their parents’. Growing up in a silenced, insecure home can lead to trauma, social anxiety, developmental issues, and future substance abuse.
If you’ve grown up in an addicted home or are a parent creating an unsafe environment for your children, there is no better time to seek treatment. Aurora Recovery Centre is dedicated to providing life changing care. Serving men and women looking for lifelong recovery, Aurora welcomes substance abuse as well as co-occurring disorders. For more information call 1-844-515-STOP.