Children of Addiction [Part 1]
8.3 million children live with at least one parent who abused or was dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug during the past year.”
– 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
Sandra has not had an easy life. Born to two parents struggling with their own addictions and serious mental health issues, she witnessed firsthand how addiction can tear apart the folds of a family.
At age six, her parents divorced and her mom began shared custody of Sandra and her younger sister with their dad who was newly sober; but after six years her father took her mother to court and won sole custody of the two girls.
Not too soon after he was awarded full custody, Sandra’s father met and became engaged to a much younger woman who loved to party; and as such he quickly relapsed beginning to drink, smoke, and abuse cocaine.
With my dad spending a lot of his money on drugs, we never really got new clothes, had nice Christmas’, no food in the house…”
Her father’s spiraling path of self-destruction brought a plethora of negative consequences and immense stress on the family. With her mom out of the picture as well, Sandra was able to use friends and school as an outlet, while also staying with other relatives, friends, boyfriends, and school dorms, as a way to escape the verbal abuse from her father’s drug addiction, but her sister wasn’t as lucky.
Sandra’s younger sister stayed with her father over the course of his addiction, and unfortunately began drinking and abusing drugs at the young age of 15; quickly becoming an addict herself.
Children of Addiction
It is estimated that there are more than 28 million children of alcoholic homes, a number which only increases when you factor in drug addiction. Children are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of addiction. At the early stages of childhood and adolescence they are extremely impressionable and are constantly absorbing the environment around them.
Children of parents struggling with drug and alcohol addiction:
- Are at a much greater risk of developing an addiction themselves due to the genetic and environmental factors involved
- Have an increased rate of behavioral problems which often directly correlate to future problems at school, work and run-ins with the law
- Experience greater physical and mental health problems than children from non-addicted homes
- Develop depression and depressive symptoms at much higher rates than children not from addicted homes
- Show elevated rates of psychiatric and psychosocial dysfunction
- More likely to develop anxiety disorders
- More likely to possess the following traits: lack of empathy for other people, decreased social adequacy and interpersonal adaptability, low self-esteem, and lack of control over the environment
When addiction takes over a family starting at the top, it leaves children burdened with anxiety and fear. Don’t let this happen to you. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s never too late to find the right drug rehab program for you and give your children the life they deserve.
Read part 2 of our “Addiction in the Family” series here.
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