The Effects of Parental Addiction on Children
Children living with parents struggling with addiction can be a poisonous environment. Violence can occur as well as children feeling they need to take care of their parents instead of the other way around. According to Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, 12% of children under eighteen have a parent struggling with addiction. Parents as well as their children must seek treatment in order to repair relationships and to be able to live together again under one roof.
You know if your parent is an addict if they stop having a social life and only go out of the house to buy liquor. They can be abusing substances in private and hiding their stashes in different places around the house. Parents can also exhibit wild mood swings where they can be in a mad mood at one moment and then happier the next after having their fix. All an addict wants to do is get high or drunk instead of fulfilling household responsibilities, forcing their children have those responsibilities. There are physical symptoms your parents can show such as bloodshot eyes, disrupted sleep patterns, appetite changes, weight fluctuation, and tremors and slurred speech.
Having a parent who is an addict can involve losing trust in your parent, anxiety, shame, guilt, and emotional suppression. Kids can be scared of being taken away by authorities if they tell anyone. Parents can be scared too of being away from their kids and that they cannot get them back even if they are clean. The best thing to do is to tell someone, especially if violence occurs. Most likely, someone will call a Child Protective Services hotline which might make the child upset but will learn in time it is for the best.
There are day childcare services in rehabs which will make it easier for parents to be with their kids while recovering. You can also talk to your parents when they are sober and to be prepared for a long story such as when they first started, where they got their substances, how they feel under the influence, how it feels without, and if they want to stop. Attending family counseling with your parent can help understand their struggles and help you get through the emotional effects your parent put you through.
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centers in the UK. Castle Craig’s family therapy involves promoting recovery, exploring the impact of addiction, discovering adaptive strategies, residential family programs, and joining two joint sessions with the patient and the therapist. For information, call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line: 0808 256 3732. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).
Page last reviewed and medically fact-checked | November 9, 2017