Children of Alcoholics and Addicts: A Guide

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We are all profoundly influenced by our upbringing, no matter our age. Not only do we inherit genes from our parents. But we also learn behaviors, habits, values, and communication styles from our caregivers face to face, and on Oppo mobile

The same holds true for how we use alcohol and drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25 percent of American kids grow up in homes where substance abuse is present.

In homes where at least one parent abuses alcohol or drugs, children are twice as likely to develop addictive disorders themselves, according to Current Drug Abuse Reviews. They are also more likely to develop:

  • School Failure
  • Trouble managing emotions and behaviors
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Greater risk of being physically, verbally, or sexually abused
  • Children may experience anxiety or depression as a result.
  • Use of drug or alcohol earlier in life

 Increasing Likelihood of Addiction

Once They Begin Using Drugs or Alcohol. Children can have a powerful impact on adults around them if they have access to the right resources and support services.

The knowledge of these support systems, and how to use them to help addicted parents, can change a child’s future, and may even help a parent begin the road to recovery.

Reversing the role of the addicted parent

When parents and children are in a healthy relationship, the parent takes on parental duties. A caregiver is responsible for providing the youngster with physical shelter, emotional support, and financial security.

When there is substance abuse in a parent-child relationship, these roles are often reversed, and the child takes on the role of the caregiver.

Sometimes, children are not even aware of the responsibility they have assumed. Some of the responsibilities of a child-parent are obvious, such as cleaning up after an intoxicated father after a night of drinking or getting a part-time job to help with grocery expenses.

The Dark Side

There may be a level of emotional intimacy involved with these responsibilities that goes beyond the boundaries of a healthy parent-child relationship.

These situations will occur, sooner or later. Children are asked to assume more maturity than they are ready for.

Families those are addicted often cross the emotional boundaries that allow children to develop independently. They may become expert caretakers without social skills or identity of their own.

The Eye Opener

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reports that emotionally and mentally stressful situations such as caring for intoxicated parents can harm a child’s development.

As a result, children whose parents are physically or mentally absent are more likely to suffer injury, exposure to crime, malnutrition, and social isolation. When parents are often drunk or high, children may be embarrassed to bring their friends home.

Because of this, they may not have the opportunity to build strong relationships with their peers.

The greatest problem is that many kids think they are somehow responsible for their parent’s addiction – that if they were better behaved, earned better grades in school, or did all the chores at home, their parents wouldn’t be as tired or stressed and they wouldn’t need drugs.

If young people find themselves in this position, they should feel empowered to step outside of the caretaking role and seek help for themselves.

Getting Help Outside of the Home

Getting help outside of the home can be difficult for children who are trying to care for themselves or who are parenting their parents.

Often, children of addicts are discouraged from talking to other adults about problems they are facing – often through outright intimidation or emotional manipulation.

If substance-abusing parents feel that a child has betrayed the family by revealing its secrets to a counselor, a teacher, a doctor, or a friend’s parent, they may become angry or abusive.

The very real possibility of losing legal custody of their children and facing criminal charges is also in the minds of a lot of parents.

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