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How Drug Addiction Affects Kids

Drug addiction does more than damage the life of the addict.  The impact spreads to their spouse or partner, their friends, their coworkers, and their children.  Unfortunately, it’s the kids who have the least ability to effectively cope with another person’s addiction.  Let’s take a look at what kids do and how they react to addiction.

Forbidden outside world
Children Take Addiction Personally

Children Take Addiction Personally

Children are naturally self-focused.  Because they lack the maturity and skills to see things like adults do, they generally see their viewpoint as the only viewpoint.  When bad things happen to them, they will often wonder if they had anything to do with it.  “Why do bad things *always* seem to happen to me?” they might ask.  So imagine a mom using drugs, passing out on the couch, leaving unexpectedly, breaking promises about meal time or play time.

A child in this position might wonder, “Why don’t they love me?” or “Did I make them not want to be with me?”  All the child sees is the behavioral outcome of their mother’s addiction – the lack of attention, lack of consistency, etc.  No matter what reason the mom had initially for using, the child just knows that they can’t count on their mom for much.  Unless the mom goes through drug rehab to get sober and change her behaviors, that child is likely to spend years figuring out that relationship and trying to get their mom’s approval.  This can dramatically affect how they handle friendships, how they choose romantic partners, and the strength of their self worth.

Start Their Own Addiction

Some children of addicts become addicts themselves, going through cycles of erratic behavior, drug treatment, and sobriety.  The emotional pain of a dysfunctional family system, the example of escaping reality with drugs, the lack of supervision and teaching a child to do something different – all of these factors can lead a child down the path of addiction.  Of course, having an addicted parent is no 100% guarantee that a child will repeat the addiction history.  Usually, a child who does not become addicted has at least one solid adult in their life for guidance, may have a personality less vulnerable to addiction, and may have not had much exposure to the
addicted parent.

Drug Rehab Makes The Difference For Parent And Child

Think it’s too late to make a difference with your child by going to drug rehab?  Don’t count your family out just yet.  Yes, some problems can be harder to overcome when a child has been exposed to addiction for many years.  But that doesn’t mean all is lost.  Parent child relationships go through many changes even when everyone is healthy.  An adult child with a (finally) sober parent may have a chance to build a good adult relationship.  Just remember that the sooner you become sober, the sooner you can start guiding your child’s life in a healthy way.

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