Addiction is a family disease that causes damage to the addict themselves and also to their loved ones that are close to them. It can cause relationships to break due to tension and intense emotions, causing the addiction to get worse. This takes place whether a parent or child has the addiction.
After a parent has gone through addiction and has taken the necessary steps to heal, it is of the utmost importance to try to repair the relationship between themselves and their children. This often begins with the parent working to rebuild their child’s trust. This can be a difficult process, but it is worth it when you are serious about recovery and want to rebuild your life.
The Effects of Substance Abuse on Children
When children are raised in a home that features frequent substance abuse, they can be harmed in a variety of ways. This is because children look to their parents for developmental skills, such as guidance, judgment, and more. When a parent is using drugs or alcohol, their parenting will be affected by substance abuse, causing the child to learn unhealthy behaviors and habits. Children are affected physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The physical effects of addiction can take place even before a child is born. If a parent is using drugs or drinking alcohol while they are pregnant, the child may be born with deformations, cognition problems, or mental disorders. Once the child is born, if the addictive parent is still using drugs or alcohol, it is common that they neglect their child’s health.
This happens in several ways such as not taking them to the doctor, not going to the dentist, and not seeing the optometrist. Instead, addicted parents spend money on their substance of choice. It is easy to see how this can cause multiple negative physical impacts on a child. It is also common for a child to develop illnesses caused by anxiety because of their parent’s addiction.
Some issues can include asthma, migraines, or ulcers. If these are not treated, over time, they can evolve into life-threatening issues. Another common behavior of an addicted parent is to have extreme anger or rage. This causes them to take the strong emotions out on their child verbally, physically, or even sexually. This abuse can lead to trauma, PTSD, and other mental health problems down the road.
Children may feel unloved or unwanted by those closest to them, which mixed with abuse, can cause symptoms of depression. This can lead to self-harm, suicide attempts, or even addiction in their own lives.
As stated above, a parent struggling with addiction can cause their children to experience trauma and symptoms of depression. However, there are other mental effects that may take place in children’s lives. Good grades are not common for children of addicted parents due to a number of reasons.
Children can have cognitive deficiencies if the parent was drinking or using during the pregnancy, which can lead to them failing classes or even being expelled. Because parents are often absent in terms of acting as an authority figure, children may never learn to have respect for those in a place of authority.
This can cause them to get into even more trouble at school, or even with the law. Again, children of addicts have an increased risk of developing addiction in their own lives. This is because they learn how to cope with stress and life’s challenges from their parents.
If they do not develop a substance abuse disorder, they are more likely to engage with people who are addicts, especially in relationships.
The emotional needs of children are often ignored by addicted parents. Trust, empathy, dependency, and perception of reality are often altered by growing up in a home with addiction. Parents and children must bond in order for emotional intelligence to progress, but this often never happens in the case of a parent abusing drugs or alcohol.
Emotional effects can be seen as early as birth, as babies often give cues to their parents that they need certain attention. Babies often cry to alert their parents, but if the parents often ignore these cues, the babies learn to stop displaying these behaviors. This commonly follows them into adulthood.
Some older children feel guilty for their parent’s addiction, often thinking it is their fault. This can cause a lot of stress on the child, which again can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm, or forming an addiction themselves.
Taking Steps to Rebuild a Relationship With Your Child
Rebuilding a relationship with your child after addiction can be extremely difficult, especially if your child is older. The best thing you can do is take the time to show your child you are serious about your sobriety and want to be a better parent.
Show them that you are taking sobriety seriously by going to meetings, taking care of your responsibilities, and being there for them. Over time, it is possible to rebuild a healthy relationship. You cannot expect it to happen overnight and you need to put in the work to gain their trust.
Children are affected by addiction in various ways. Mental, physical, and emotional effects are common in children that are raised by an addicted parent. This can cause them to fall behind in school, life, or even to develop an addiction themselves. The best thing you can do after you seek treatment for your addiction is to learn how it affected your children. From there, you can begin learning how to rebuild the relationship and talk to your child about what you both have been through. For more help on this subject, contact Northstar Transitions at (303) 558-6400.