It shouldn’t come as much surprise that it’s considered a childhood trauma to be children of addicts and endure the painful sight of the disastrous consequences of addiction. Addiction is a family disease, but the shame associated with the illness can become intense enough that the family doesn’t want to address the matter. When young and growing up in the family, children of addicts may lack the parent they feel they rightfully deserve due to the addicted parent not being able to show up for them in their life. With all of this build up waiting around for the addicted parent, the child may wind up ignoring the opportunity to address the underlying, pressing issues of their parents’ disease that have deeply affected them, including the affects of them not being emotionally and physically present in their lives as a result.
Statistics for Children of Addicts Deal with Childhood Trauma
When it comes to the children of addicts, there is often more attention focused on the negative statistics that highlight how they have an allegedly greater likelihood of being inclined to dabble with substances later in life themselves. Children of alcoholics are said to be four times as likely to become addicted to a substance at some point in their life time. While these stats may be true, the information about the amount of children of addicts that wind up not addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is frequently ignored. An apparent 50% of children of addicts turn out not addicted to any form of mind-altering substance later in life. As positive an outcome as it may appear, however, there are some other concerning elements to consider into the equation. Just because they are not addicted to a substance, does not mean that another manifestation has not erupted within them. There are other unhealthy coping mechanisms that these children of addicts may have picked up in order to “sweep the dust under the rug” after the parent has “failed to show up” in their life when the child needed them present in their life most.
Childhood Trauma and Addiction
A study entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) was conducted with 17,000 participants that ended up revealing the effects of drug and alcohol addiction when it determined that 27% of the questioned individuals were children of addicts, which was defined as the individual having grown up in an environment where there was a repeat of substance abuse in their home. In this study, it was also found that later in adulthood, the child was likely to develop or get STDs, obesity, heart complications, cancer, lung problems, liver distress, mental health issues, alcoholism, depression, and pose greater risk of suicide. “The most important thing the ACE study shows is that trauma leads to issues that make relationships difficult,” Robert Anda, who acted as a co-author in study’s lead, explained. The fact that being children of addicts can leave such a territorial mark that it resonates as childhood trauma and can take a detrimental toll that is great enough to spiral to physical conditions is serious. The link can be seen between the experiences that children of addicts have and the physical consequences of struggling with the impact of their parents’ disease even decades later after having never addressed the matter for so long, which is why it has been imperative that there be more effective measures found to reduce childhood trauma in their homes.
The problem of addressing addiction in the family comes back to the stigma of the disease of addiction. “If a parent had a heart problem or cancer or something like that, it’d be talked about in school with teachers, there would be support, other families would be offering to help with childcare, bringing casseroles over,” author David Sheff spoke, who wrote on addiction. “But with this problem, because it is perceived to be a problem of choice and morals, the child is shamed. There’s no sense of community support and so they’re further isolated.” Ignoring the issue doesn’t solve it – it only deviates and suppresses it while it allows it to grow even larger for all involved. Addiction is a family disease and can take out anyone who crosses paths with the addict.
If you or a loved one is struggling with the disease of addiction, contact The Watershed for help today because it is possible to recover from this obsession that takes over the mind and body to get your life restored to peace.
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