Substance Abuse & Children of an Addicted Loved One: Growing Up in an Unstable Environment

Throughout childhood, children’s brains are growing and developing. It’s during this time, that they are learning social behaviors, emotional coping tools and much more. For the children of parents in active addiction, they are learning these things while sustaining constant, perpetually high levels of stress. This kind of emotional damage is traumatic and its effects usually last into adulthood if not immediately addressed.

The Family Disease of Addiction: Everyone Experiences Substance Abuse Differently

There may be one family member addicted to drugs or alcohol but every member of the household is affected. Personality, genetics and life experiences shape the way the disease impacts every individual. One family member may grow up to follow in the footsteps of the addicted person and another may choose to avoid drugs and alcohol altogether. Some may struggle with depression while others turn to sex for their emotional needs. Some people may act rebelliously while other people may try to exist under the radar.

Support Groups for Children of Addicted Loved One

The good news is that children who are growing up, or have grown up, in households of addiction, have paths to healing and an opportunity to learn healthy life skills. This kind of childhood trauma does not have to be a persistent undertone in adulthood. There are several support groups available for the children of an addicted loved one and most of them are free. Below are some examples of support groups that have helped countless people reconcile their past and can help you too.

Al-Anon: Alcoholics Anonymous is dedicated to helping alcoholics recover and heal. Al-Anon was specifically created for anyone whose life has been affected by an alcoholic.

Alateen: Similar to Al-Anon, Alateen was specifically created for the adolescent and young adult children of alcoholics. Alateen Chat, with an adult moderator, is an additional resource offered to those who are not able to attend group meetings.

Nar-Anon: Just as Narcotics Anonymous serves addicts, Nar-Anon serves the addict’s friends and family. Nar-Anon is a spiritually based group that works the same 12 steps the addict does.

Adult Children of Alcoholics: Similar to Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics is a spiritually based group that works the same 12 steps the alcoholic does. It has been found especially helpful for those who were affected by alcoholism in childhood and continue to be in adulthood.

Dual-Recovery Anonymous: So many of those struggling with addiction are also struggling with a mental health condition. Dual-Recovery Anonymous is based on the valuable 12-step program but has been contrived to work through both issues simultaneously.

Co-Dependents Anonymous: In many addiction relationships, the addicted person relies on a loved one to continue their addiction lifestyle. Usually the addicted person needs a place to stay, money, or transportation to fuel their addiction. The loved ones providing these things are considered co-dependent. It can be a difficult cycle to break but attending Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings, you’ll get the support you need to do just that.

Learn to Cope: Knowledge is power. Learn to Cope is a support group that offers education and other resources in addition to support groups to the loved ones of those addicted to drugs. Getting a better understanding of the disease is an important way to reach your own healing goals.

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones: Founded in 2006 by a Substance Abuse Counselor, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a support group for parents. Many parents find that this group is a nice complement to Al-Anon.

Family and Friends SMART Recovery: SMART Recovery takes a different approach from the above groups. It is a science-based organization with no 12-step program. Instead, they offer tools to extricate the addict from active addiction in a 4-point program. Family and Friends SMART Recovery is committed to the loved ones of the addict.

How Therapy Can Help Children Process What Addiction Is and Why Their Loved One Acts the Way They Act in Active Addiction

When children are in school, they are not taught about the adult hardships of addiction. If children understood what they are dealing with, it would make a significant impact on how addiction affects them. Therapy empowers children by educating them and teaching them healthy coping mechanisms. It aids in diminishing their feelings of fear, shame, and embarrassment, and brings them out of personal isolation. Statistically, therapy has shown to lower a child’s risk of going down the same path of substance abuse.

A Better Today understands that addiction is a family disease. The addict is not the only one affected by the addict’s actions. We encourage you to contact us today if you’re ready to start the healing process for you and your family.