Substance abuse effects each family member differently no matter the age or relationship. The family, as a unit, is most dramatically affected as each member relies on each other. Children of parents struggling with a substance abuse problem demonstrate just how different addiction impacts each family member.
When a parent is addicted to a substance, the resulting scars left on the children can be devastating. The children either grow up looking to substance abuse as a way to cope or they rise above realizing that drug & alcohol abuse is not the answer and will never be. Anxiety, emotional instability, and psychological issues are common in children who have one or more parents in active addiction.
Establishing healthy coping mechanisms and boundaries, expressing emotions like anger and love, and developing strong relationships are negatively impacted when parent’s regularly abuse substances when their children are growing up.
Parents who are forced to watch their son or daughter’s addiction spiral out of control also experience a very different aspect of addiction as a disease. The disease feeds off the love they have for their child and the length the parent is willing to go to make their child happy and safe. As the addiction becomes the focus of their life, parents notice lying, stealing, manipulative behaviors, and their child staying out all night or for days at a time.
Feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and powerlessness tend to plague the parents of their addicted child causing desperation to cloud their judgment. Parents are forced to lie on behalf of their loved one, enable their drug use by giving them money or letting them borrow their car to pick up drugs or turn the other check when they realize their stuff is being sold for drug money. The family dynamic suffers as the bonds of love are stretched thin.
Whether you are the child of someone struggling with a substance abuse addiction or the parent who is losing their child to drugs and alcohol, you will feel the effects of addiction as a family disease. What is important to know is that there is help and you are not alone. There is family therapy and support group opportunities to help empower you and aid in helping them.