Children of Addicts
By: SOL Recovery Center 07 Jun 2016

There are very few people who are able to escape the home of an addicted parent unscathed. While there may be physical wounds, mostly, children of addicts are emotionally bruised, and if they’re not handled appropriately, it may present itself in various aspects of their lives as they mature. There is a reason the authorities see the need to remove children from a home with a parent who abuses substances. This parent is no longer able to fulfill their duty to their child. It does not mean that they don’t love their child or children, but when an addiction is too far-gone, it’s basically tunnel vision with the substance of choice being the only objective.

There are many ways in which a child may be affected by their parent being a drug addict. The thing is, while children of addicts are young, it may be hard to acknowledge the damage being done. As they grow up, though, the child of an addict may develop a reserved temperament, have temper flares, and may even become addicts themselves, just to name a few. A vicious cycle is almost certain to ensue, so let’s briefly discuss some of the events which may play a part:

Chasing Their Tails

Upon growing up, children of addicts may find themselves in a constant state of instability, be it financially, socially, or in regards to their relationships. They may even land themselves in an abusive relationship, or a few. Before doling out your judgment take a second to recognize that their standard for a regular life was molded from their childhood, and as such, these seemingly unsuitable behaviors are learned, so they feel ‘normal’ to them.

Emotional Validation & Attention Seeking in Children of Addicts

Growing up with a parent who is an addict means that in the arena of emotional security, they had none. This may result in a needy adult, with a low sense of self. They may even develop attachment and abandonment issues. They did not grow up in a nurturing environment, so they will look to fill this gap in the best way they can.

Substance Use

This is no shock. It is very much expected that being raised around drugs of any kind will have this ingrained in one’s mind, leading to eventual use.

Emotionally Stunted

After years of holding in emotions, it’s no wonder that expressing emotions would be hard for someone who lived with a parent with an addiction. They may not mean everything they do, but in some cases, they know no other way. Manifestation could be anything from problems controlling their anger, to isolation, and fear of intimacy.

What to Do?

The ultimate wish is that children are not born to addicts, or that there were no addicts at all, but that is not the case. So, if you know a child of an addict, try to remove them from that situation as quickly, and safely as you can. If you yourself are a child of an addict, don’t feel like all is lost. Turn to someone you trust for support, or seek professional trauma therapy. Asking for help is a display of strength, and there is no shame in being unable to handle your situation alone – past or present – no matter your age.

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