Many alcoholics and drug addicts believe that their drinking or drug problem does not affect anyone else. They believe they are not hurting anyone, but themselves. However, the harsh reality is, they are hurting many people around them, and if they have children, they are especially being effected.
If this information pertains to you, whether you are an addict or recovering from addiction, do not be disheartened or feel guilty by the things listed below. Know that there are alternatives and help for children as well as older children experiencing these types of situations.
Many kids who have a parent who uses drugs or alcohol experience issues related to their mom or dad’s overuse far into adulthood. Here are some ways children of alcoholics and addicts are affected:
They often do not have a genuine concept of what is normal. When a child’s father or mother is an alcoholic or addict, he typically does not interact in relationships as those who have parents that are not addicts. Children of a parent or guardian who uses often experience relationships that are usually strained within their families. Tensions are often high within their family unit. Therefore, a child of an addict may not know how to interact in relationships with others in a “normal” way. They feel like they are different than others because of this thought process as well. They can become depressed and feel isolated because they have poor relationship skills and not know how to normally interact with others. Children of an addict also typically develop a pattern of blaming their using parent for their behavior and sometimes their feelings, so oftentimes these patterns continue into future relationships as well.
Generally they are very serious. They may have been criticized in the past when loosening up, so they are usually unsure of how to have fun. Maybe they do not know how to have fun because so many times in the past when something good was supposed to happen it always turned out in disappointment because their alcoholic or addicted parent sabotaged that time in their life.
They might fear confrontation as caused by the fear of others being angry with them. They may be afraid that any conflict might turn violent or emotionally abusive, so they avoid it at all costs.
They may be constantly seeking approval from others. Regardless of whether or not the action is healthy, they may be searching for approval from wherever they can get it. They can even go out of their way to please others because they cannot handle anyone being unhappy with them due to the fear of bringing up feelings related to the past. They may even become perfectionists, so that others will never be disappointed in them.
They often have difficulties with romantic relationships. It is oftentimes hard to trust someone and rely on someone when they were not able to trust and rely on their parent. Growing up where many things were covered up by lies and deceit, it may be a challenge to know who one can trust. They can have so much mistrust of others, they find it nearly impossible to be in a relationship.
They are oftentimes afraid of being abandoned. Sometimes a parent physically leaves the family, and the child does not want others to leave for fear of having to feel those feelings all over again. This fear can be dangerous because they frequently hold onto unhealthy relationships simply because they fear being alone.
However, it is important for children of an alcoholic or addict to seek professional help as well to aid them in overcoming the obstacles they face in life today. Children of an addict should remember their parent’s issue is not their own, and they did not cause any of the problems their parent is dealing with. They must also learn they had no control over their parent’s behavior in the past and learn to let go of control in their own life will benefit them currently. They cannot control other people, and realizing this fact is such a freeing experience when accomplished. Furthermore, they must remember that they cannot change their parent’s behavior-not in the past, present or future.
Children of addicts must also recognize that they can only control themselves. As much as they want their parent to change, they cannot, without being willing, change themselves. Another effective strategy for a child of an addict, is to remind themselves to communicate their feelings with others. Often not feeling normal and not knowing how to care for oneself, can lead to a helpless state, but if one grasps how to communicate their feelings with others, they can begin to move out of a state of depression and into a healthier lifestyle. It is also important for children of addicts to realize that they can choose to make healthy choices now despite the way they grew up.
So, Children of an Addict should take a step back from the situation for a moment, breathe, and take the steps to get the help they need for themselves too.