Growing Up with Parental Alcoholism: How Drinking Effects Children

Growing Up with Parental Alcoholism: How Drinking Effects Children

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

One of the most harmful myths about alcoholism that needs to be debunked is the idea that drinking does not affect anyone but the individual. People tend to be self-centered when lost in their cups, and so many believe the only person who has to deal with their drinking problem is them. No one else has to spend the money, or feel the hangover, or suffer the consequences… right?

But we know this isn’t true. The behavior of an alcoholic or a drug addict impacts others, especially the people closest to them. An alcoholics family can experience a great deal of pain and carry plenty of consequences as the result of their loved one’s drinking.

However, none are as vulnerable as the children of alcoholics. Frequently, the impact of parental alcoholism on a child can last the rest of that child’s life. Even as children, they may do their best to conceal the effects at the time, but one way or another it always leaves a mark. Here are just some of the ways that parental alcoholism affects children.

  1. Low Self-Worth

One way parental alcoholism affects children is by creating a lot of self-doubt and self-criticism in many children. Often, the children of alcoholics believe their own shortcomings are the cause of disturbances in the home. This can lead them to be extremely critical of themselves. They may believe they are not good enough, and frequently develop low self-worth and low self-esteem.

Even as adults, the children of alcoholics can feel inadequate.

Over time, the tendency to doubt themselves and be so critical can lead to other issues, including depression and anxiety disorders. Parental alcoholism can lead a young child to feel like they are unworthy or responsible for more than is actually under their control.

  1. Fear or Abandonment

In most cases of parental alcoholism, the parent is emotionally unavailable or even physically not around. Sometimes a parent will be asked to leave due to their drinking by the other parent. Other times, the parent will get in trouble with the law and may go in and out of institutions. In some cases an alcoholic parent will have to be hospitalized, or even worse, they pass away.

All of these circumstances can lead the child of an alcoholic to develop a deep fear of being abandoned. Losing a parent, even if only periodically, can be devastating for young children.

  1. People Pleasing

When a child has developed low self-worth, is extremely critical of themselves and has a fear of being abandoned, it only makes sense that they will constantly seek approval from others. Growing up in a house with parental alcoholism as the norm, a child always trying to make others happier will become a people-pleasing adult.

This can be especially true if a child’s alcoholic parent was mean or abusive when they were drunk. It can intensify the fear of not being enough, or of being abandoned. As an adult, the children of alcoholics can grow up with a fear of confrontation. They may spend their lives avoiding any form of conflict. Furthermore, a child of an alcoholic might even sacrifice their own well-being in order to avoid making others angry.

Sadly, with people pleasing a child will learn to suppress their own emotions, making them an emotionally stunted adult.

  1. Overcompensating

Sometimes, the child of an alcoholic is so committed to people pleasing that they become a perfectionist. Parental alcoholism can cause a kid to become incredibly responsible, hoping to gain some control of the world around them. These children of alcoholic parents become overachievers or workaholics.

However, there is no guarantee that they will not try to overcompensate in the opposite direction. An alcoholic’s child may also become very irresponsible members of society. They may adopt a self-destructive lifestyle similar to their parents in order to try and escape the pressures of an alcoholic home. Thus, the cycle continues.

  1. Normalizing

If parental alcoholism has played a key role in the household, it is hard for a child to determine what “normal” is. This inability to distinguish the good from the bad makes it much more difficult for children to decide which role models to follow. Not only that, it makes it hard to know the right way to treat other people.

If you grow up in a home where abuse and alcoholism are normal, you are likely to engage in that behavior and seek out relationships like that later on in life. By normalizing the harmful behaviors and the toxic relationships that a child of an alcoholic can be exposed to, they are also building a faulty foundation for future relationships.

  1. Difficulty with Relationships

When growing up with parental alcoholism in the home, kids will experience things like:

Sadly, they may accept that these things are all normal. Thus, these children can develop severe trust issues. If you have grown up developing serious trust issues and/or a lack of self-worth, getting close to anyone can seem almost impossible.

In order to be intimate with others, you have to rely on others for emotional attachment, fulfillment, and interdependence. These things can be very hard to reconcile for the child of an alcoholic home. And if you are so critical of yourself, a strong fear of abandonment will definitely be very hard to overcome when trying to build relationships. Pretty much every issue we mentioned before this point makes it extremely difficult for these children to have healthy relationships.

Overcoming Parental Alcoholism

In truth, there are innumerable ways that parental alcoholism could affect a child. Because we are always trying to figure out what things mean as children, we could adopt completely different ideas based on a variety of experiences. Some people are more sensitive to certain kinds of problems, while others may use their bad experiences as motivation to set better standards for themselves. In short, not all children of alcoholics will be affected the same.

However, many of the issues on this list appear consistently in studies of adult children of alcoholics. For years, these are some of the most common characteristics identified in research on the families of alcoholics. Regardless, one thing remains the same- parental alcoholism can significantly influence a child’s development. Time and time again, we can see how the impact of growing up with parental alcoholism can shape an adult.

A large proportion of the people who seek help for substance use disorders like alcoholism or drug addiction have kids. Sadly, a large number of parents do not seek help because they are afraid of being away from their children. Some even worry they may lose their children. Still, every year countless children lose their parents to alcohol and drug use. That is why it is so important that parents and caregivers receive comprehensive and compassionate support in holistic addiction treatment.

If you or a loved one is looking for treatment, make sure the program you choose has ways for the family to be involved in the recovery process. Not only is it good for helping people understand what their families go through, but they also teach families about what the suffering individual goes through.

Treatment for alcoholism or addiction is not about taking families apart, but about bringing them together.

Palm Healthcare Company believes in uniting loved ones through the practice of healing mind, body and spirit. Our holistic addiction treatment program gives each individual an opportunity to create a personalized recovery plan that helps them to overcome their addiction and get back to what matters most. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Could Bullying Statistics Show Connection to Substance Abuse?

Could Bullying Statistics Show Connection to Substance Abuse?

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Bullying is a concept we are all familiar with. We each experience bullying at some point in life, to one extent or another. Even those who become bullies have often been bullied at some point. Technology and social media have created a whole new breed of cyberbullying, and too many people don’t take bullying very seriously. When you look at bullying statistics, the impact can lead to other real issues, including substance abuse and addiction.

To be a Bully

Firstly, let us look at what it is to be a bully. The title is typically described as the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically to force someone to do what one wants. The site stopbullying.gov defines it as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalance. This behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. It also concludes that both those who are bullied and those who bully often have serious, lasting problems.

Bullying statistics show three categories of behavior:

1. Verbal Bullying

This type of bullying is about the things we say or write. Verbal bullying includes:

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening

2. Social Bullying

This involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

3. Physical Bullying

Physical Bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. It includes:

  • Hitting/kicking
  • Pinching
  • Tripping
  • Pushing
  • Spitting
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Sadly, the prevalence of bullying often convinces people that it is just a rite of passage. A lot of people don’t take the issue seriously enough. Adults often justify the behavior as a sign of immaturity, without realizing the genuine harm that comes from it.

The Impact of Bullying

Being bullied can lead to many other adversities in life, including physical violence and mental health problems.

Because both behaviors are so common, it is difficult to correlate bullying and substance use. When looking at addiction and bullying statistics, according to 2016 Monitoring the Future survey:

  • More than 17% of children have tried drugs by 8th grade
  • Almost 50% have used illicit drugs by senior year in high school
  • Childhood alcohol use rates are even higher

According to the CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 20% of American high schoolers have been bullied in school in the past year
  • More than 15% have been bullied electronically in the past year

Bullying can erode a child’s self-esteem. It can deplete their confidence, even for those who parents may believe are confident enough to endure a bully. Over time, they learn to question their self-worth. If a bully targets a specific attribute of the individual, they may begin to obsess over it.Some bullying statistics show that those who have been bullied are six times more likely to be diagnosed with mental health issues. It is extremely common for victims of bullying to develop progressive behavioral disorders such as:

Over time, they may turn to alcohol or drugs to ease the pain. Also, the desire to fit in and feel accepted can lead a child using drugs to connect with people. Several studies show the risk factors for psychological health problems, substance abuse, and bullying statistics often overlap.

Similarity in Symptoms

When we look closer at bullying statistics and at the warning signs of substance abuse, we find that the symptoms are extremely similar.

Common Symptoms of Bullying

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Alcohol or drug use

Common Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder

  • Mood swings
  • Poor performance in school or work
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Health problems

Looking at some of the more general warning signs we can see how many are present concerning both issues.

Substances and Bullying Statistics

Ultimately, drugs can become a crutch for numbing the emotional pain of being bullied. While it is harder to predict whether being the victim of bullying will lead to substance abuse, with bullies there is also a very real risk of developing issues with drug use and addiction.

Bullying statistics often show that bullies themselves typically suffer from a variety of emotional and behavioral challenges. Sometimes a child lives in a home with domestic violence, and so they become aggressive with their peers to expel their frustration. Yet, they may still use drugs or alcohol to escape the painful life at home. Even the act of bullying itself is typically an indication of diminished self-worth, and just like with the victims, that lack of self-worth can lead them to use drugs.

Some even believe bullying could be comparable to an addiction itself. Some psychologists compare bullying to other ‘process addictions’ like gambling, overworking or shopping. While we do not recognize bullying as an addiction, many believe the comparison could be helpful to address the issue.

Compassion and Care

Whether or not someone is a victim or bullying, or has been a bully themselves, we all deserve respect and compassion. When it comes to providing care for those who struggle with substance use disorder, it should always be a priority to help people develop healthy coping skills, while gaining self-worth. As people struggle to deal with emotional and behavioral challenges, there should be resources there to help guide them toward personal development. Not just getting off of substances, but also to empower them as an individual.

One issue we have with facing bullying head-on is that people typically think of a “bully” as someone inherently bad. However, life is not so simple. A child who bullies isn’t a bad child, they are just interacting with their world in an unhealthy and aggressive way. They still deserve understanding and support.

We commonly see the same stigma with people struggling with addiction. Too often they are labeled as “bad” people, but the truth is that they are just dealing with things in a self-destructive and unhealthy way. Dealing with substance use disorder and with bullying means meeting it with love and care, not judgment and punishment.

Perhaps if focus more on supporting people, we have a better chance of changing addiction and bullying statistics for the betterment of everyone.

 Palm Healthcare Company believes in the importance of compassionate and comprehensive care for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Providing a safe medical detox, a personalized recovery program and an innovative approach to holistic health, our mission is to help people transform into the person they want to be. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Alcohol Awareness Month: Changing Attitudes in April 2018

Alcohol Awareness Month: Changing Attitudes in April 2018

Did you know that April is Alcohol Awareness Month?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010. Among working-age adults between 20 and 64 years old, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in every 10 deaths. Alcohol abuse is a greater risk than many people realize. Sadly, underage drinking in America has also become a very serious problem.

Back in April of 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) began sponsoring the national observance of Alcohol Awareness Month in order to increase public awareness and understanding of the risks associated with alcoholism. America’s relationship with heavy drinking is already pretty intense, so taking the time for this month to reflect is probably a good idea.

A big goal of this observance is to reduce the stigma attached to alcohol abuse and addiction. Advocates are also encouraging local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. Alcohol Awareness Month isn’t just for looking at the impacts on society, but also at the risks to the individual, and promoting education.

NCADD states that the theme for Alcohol Awareness Month is- “Changing Attitudes: It is not a rite of passage.”

Changing Attitudes

The risk alcohol poses to young people is not something to take lightly, but sadly many people do. Too many parents are willing to overlook their children drinking underage because they have adopted the idea that drinking in your teens and early twenties is a ‘rite of passage’. This mindset actually minimizes the reality, which is that alcohol use is especially harmful to young people. But many parents just assume their kids will “get through it”. Parents frequently chalk the whole thing up to a “phase” that all young people experience. But is it safe to take it so lightly?

However, drinking is directly associated with many severe problems for young people. This shows that parents face some unique challenges when talking to children and young people about drinking and drug use. However, according to the NCADD, research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the hazards of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don’t. Parents have a critical position in alcohol abuse prevention. They have the power to help change the attitudes that lead to minimizing destructive behaviors like underage drinking.

Addressing the role parents can play in teaching their kids about the risks of alcohol is what this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is all about.

Believe it or not, parents can help kids understand that using alcohol isn’t a healthy or effective way to feel or be independent. It might seem “cool” but it isn’t a safe or sustainable strategy for fitting in socially. People may think of drinking like a minor rebellion that provides a short-term solution, but that kind of logic can easily lead to a more serious long-term problem.

Underage Drinking

To put into perspective just how serious underage drinking is, we can take a look at more statistics from the CDC.

  • Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.
  • 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by people between 12 and 20 years old, even though it is illegal.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol consumed by people between 12-20 years old is done by binge-drinking.

There are a lot of terrible consequences that result from underage drinking, including:

  • Memory problems
  • Abuse of other drugs
  • Changing in brain development (which could have a long-term impact)
  • Traffic fatalities
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • Higher risk of homicide
  • Educational failure
  • Alcohol overdose
  • Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex
  • Physical or sexual assault
  • Legal problems
  • Hangovers or Illnesses
  • Death from alcohol poisoning

According to the CDC, young people who start drinking before age 15 are actually six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and abuse later in life than people who begin drinking at or after age 21. So how can you get involved in making a difference? There are a lot of ways to acknowledge Alcohol Awareness Month.

Acknowledging Alcohol Awareness Month

April has a lot of local, state, and national events. These are opportunities to help educate people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth. They are also meant to highlight the important role parents can play in helping kids better understand the impacts of alcohol.

Local NCADD Affiliates, as well as schools, colleges, churches, and countless other community organizations, will sponsor and host a number of activities, and you can even find a way to organize your own Alcohol Awareness Month events via the NCADD website. The NCADD even encourages everyone to participate in alcohol-free days.

An easy way to join the conversation is to follow #AlcoholAwarenessMonth

These events are also meant to encourage individuals and families to find help concerning alcohol-related issues. Sometimes this kind of awareness comes down to acknowledging the problem in your own life. Whether it is your own drinking, or that of a loved one, seeking help and support can change everything. Alcohol Awareness Month provides opportunities for prevention and promotes treatment for those who need it.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism should not be taken lightly. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. For those addicted to alcohol, it is not recommended to try and get off of alcohol without medical supervision. Safe medical detox is the most effective and supportive environment for those with an alcohol dependence. There are a lot of resources available to those who need the help. Alcohol Awareness Month is the perfect time to have that conversation with someone you care about.

Alcohol Awareness Month not only helps us understand the dangers of alcohol, but it reminds us that we are not alone. It helps us to see not only is alcohol dangerous but also that there is hope for those who have already suffered because of alcohol. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

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The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 11

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

The lords leaping and the ladies dancing have got the party going. The farm animals are all running a muck and suddenly this super-band of 11 dudes with pipe-instruments come in and break out in a jam session.

I take back what I said earlier about your true love… this is getting turnt.

With one more day to go in the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery, we are grateful for Step 11 giving us a chance to get grounded again. Ask the band to play some mellow jazz for a minute.

Step 11: Seek more of the Christmas spirit with through prayer or meditation

In earlier steps we talked about the importance of self-awareness and honest reflection, so with the prayer and meditation of Step 11 we seek to further connect with our Higher Power, whatever that means to you, in order to align with the spirit of Christmas.

For some of those who are still not so sold on the whole idea of spirituality, prayer might still be a little outside of your comfort zone. Remember, that is fine. For those who embrace the practice of prayer, you can take some time out for yourself on Christmas to seek a deeper spiritual connection to the experience.

For those who would prefer to meditate, take time for yourself to reflect quietly on what Christmas means to you. You don’t have to go sit cross-legged in a room with candles to do this. See if you can manage a few moments here or there to truly take a step back and witness all that you have received this Christmas.

I don’t mean just stare at your presents. Actually think on the impact your sobriety has had on the holiday. Look back at every step you have taken up to this point and seek to understand with how it has made a difference to you and the people who love you. Seek a stronger connection to this moment and this holiday through a deeper understanding of it.

The meaning behind being merry…

Meditation and prayer can show us even more of what the true meaning of being merry is. When we pray or meditate honestly and openly, we make room for more of that meaning to be revealed. The truth behind our joy and our merriment is so much more than you can put under the tree. A wise person once said that nothing has any meaning except the meaning we give it. If that is true, what meaning are you giving to Christmas? How are you aligning with the spirit of the celebration?

Ask how far you have come by doing the work on yourself to be more close with others. Ask yourself what is possible if you continue to be the person you set out to be when you got clean and sober, and how it makes these memories so much more. Somewhere in there, we can seek gratitude for what gifts we’ve been given. Not just the toys and gadgets, or the clothes and cards, but the gift of being alive and sober and with people who you care about. To have people who care about you to spend the holiday with.

Christmas in recovery is an amazing thing, and for some of us the meaning behind being merry is true fulfillment through tremendous gratitude. For our lives, for our hopes, and for each other.

Prayer and meditation are just some of the ways we can work on appreciating Christmas. Sometimes, we have to keep praying for those who are still struggling this holiday season. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. The greatest gift you can give is letting someone know you care, and want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: From Janice Hemmer and Palm Healthcare

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: From Janice Hemmer and Palm Healthcare

Every member of the Palm Healthcare Family, from the administrators behind the scenes to those on the front lines along with a dedicated clinical team, are committed to helping support and educate anyone looking for help when struggling with a substance use disorder. Given the recent issues facing the nation, including the addiction crisis and the concern for ensuring safe and effective treatment, our clinical staff has chosen to speak to everyone out there looking for answers in their own words, hoping to shine new light on some difficult conversations.

To learn more about how to handle the difficult emotions and situations parents and family members face with an addicted loved one, download our FREE e-book

“What is the Difference Between Helping and Hurting”

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Here we have some crucial information from Janice Hemmer, Tischler LCSW, ACSW, CAC who is the Senior Program Director of Palm Healthcare, with 21 years experience in the field of addiction.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

    Nearly every day, you can find an article in the media or online that discusses the addiction epidemic facing the United States and the state of drug and alcohol treatment today. Stories of patients being taken advantage of by unseemly “Sober Homes” and news reports of overdoses are rampant. To some degree, it is a good thing that the media is shining a light on this insidious problem. After all, people who only want to make a quick buck by manipulating those in dire need of help are out there in force. We do need to make sure that the issue is addressed and we should never stop trying to force these criminals out of the system. However, are media outlets and sensationalism scaring people away from the professional and reputable treatment programs that produce real long lasting results?

It is vital to remember that addiction is a neuro-biological disease. Addicts need professional medical intervention and psychotherapy to address the true causes of their addiction. It is incumbent upon the professionals in the treatment community, and the media, to educate and inform people about how to properly vet a treatment facility or program. To that end, the remainder of this article will focus on what patients and their families need to know to get their addicted loved one into an effective treatment program.

Here are some important questions you should ask about any treatment program, along with the answers you should be looking for.

Level of Credibility

  1. What credentials does the program have?

Your state requires that addiction treatment programs be licensed, it is important to check with the state about the current validation of any license. Additionally, organizations such as “The Joint Commission” and “Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities” or CARF ongoingly audit treatment programs to ensure that they are meeting the highest possible standards. 

  1. Content of programming: What theoretical models of treatment do they follow?

There are a variety of treatment modalities available to behavioral health professionals. These can include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Therapy, Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders, Life Skills and many others. A reputable program will design a treatment regimen that is suited to your specific issues.

Level of Transparency

  1. Pre-Screening

Does the intake coordinator inform you of any tests or procedures that you must submit to before or during the admission process (Blood tests, urinalysis etc.)? Do they ask questions about your medical history? Do they discuss all possible costs that you may incur while in the program and how that will be handled?

  1. Family Involvement

Does the facility offer a family program that encourages family members to become involved with your treatment and invested in a positive outcome? Do they educate the family about the goals of treatment and involve them in the discharge planning procedures? Good programs know that the cooperation of family members is a big factor in sustaining recovery. Oftentimes, families need to understand the clients level of functioning and how to avoid behaviors that might inadvertently interfere with the recovery process.

  1. Does the program allow you to tour the facility?

You should be able to see the environment that your loved one will be living in during treatment. Do they discuss their rules and day to day expectations?

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. While it is important to be vigilant in your search for a reputable program and to educate yourself as much as possible about addictive behaviors, don’t let the stories about scammers scare you or your loved one away from treatment. There will always be those who try to take advantage of people. Just remember that a big part of treatment is learning how to identify and avoid people who exhibit those behaviors. Due diligence goes a long way towards securing treatment for yourself or for those you love. It is well worth the effort.

Janice Hemmer- Tischler LCSW, ACSW, CAC

For more information on how to find a safe, ethical and effective addiction treatment program make sure to explore more of our Palm Healthcare Company website. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Dear Mom, My Addiction Was Never Your Fault

Dear Mom, My Addiction Was Never Your Fault

I’ve decided to touch on something that means more to me than there are words to describe it.

That is, my mom.

To me, the word mom is synonymous with every great quality I’ve ever known or could hope to have. My mother is fiercely loyal, devoted and courageous. She is also the most compassionate, considerate and loving person I know. She sacrificed all to give me a chance at having a full and amazing life, and she continues to do so. My mother gives her life to nurturing the ones she loves spiritually, mentoring me emotionally, and ensuring that I know, even when I did not believe in myself, that someone does.

Recently I was faced with a conversation about mothers and I was suddenly startled at a realization; in my addiction I put my mother through so much more than I ever gave credit, and she was still my hero. There is something to be said about the way a mom will care acutely and unconditionally, and my mom is a champion of the heart. I think it gives me even more reason to talk about this.

Sharing the Burden

Of course a mother is intrinsically protective. The lioness guards her cubs with ferocity; passionately committed to safeguarding her child. Of course we all become handfuls sooner rather than later, but thankfully mom is always there, trying to keep us alive and in check. My mom poured her heart into trying to teach me to be a man of integrity. So naturally, when I fell, her heart sank with me.

I will never forget having to tell my mom I was going back to drug rehab for the second time in a year. It was not the first time we had cried together, but it was different. The pain and fear in her face, the look of resignation and acceptance. That was all hard enough, but her words made it so much harder. She said:

“What didn’t I do right? Why have I failed my only son?”

She wasn’t asking me, she was praying out loud. It broke me. Even now, almost 4 years sober, reading those words makes my chest heavy. Those words really emphasize the idea that many parents of addicts will try and take responsibility for their children’s addictions.

Many parents have a habit of trying to carry the weight of their children’s burdens for them. They see their kids as reflections of themselves and their own actions. Just as they delight in the child’s every success, not matter how trivial it may seem, they also embrace the pain of their child’s mistakes. Thus, they frequently try to shoulder some of the accountability. They ask things like,

What if I had showed them more affection?

Was I too affectionate?

What if I was too tough?

Was I not tough enough?

How could I have done better?

When a child gets in trouble, or even sometimes when they become very sick, some parents want to assume responsibility for it all. They take on guilt and blame that doesn’t necessarily belong to them. I was both sick and in a world of trouble and my mom didn’t want me to do it alone.

My mom always believed in sharing the burden with anything I struggled through. She was trying to take as much of it as she could because she could see how hopeless I really was. My mom did not yell at me or ridicule me; she just wanted to protect me… even from myself. After years of hiding the truth and taking advantage of the kindness of her and my family, she never stopped trying to keep me safe.

Placing the Blame

Some might say (and I’m sure a few of my aunts and uncles do) that my mother would defend me to a fault. At first she wanted to believe it was the people I hung out with and the things they convinced me to do. Then, her focus turned on her. I could read it on her face; running through the last 24 years trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how she could have stopped it… asking herself if she might still be able to say something that fixed it.

Sure, there is some rationale to the concept that childhood trauma and emotional baggage can contribute to stress and depression, which can help inspire or influence substance abuse. But these factors are not guarantees or requirements. Neither are they the whole picture.

To put it simply… blaming a parent for a child’s addiction is like blaming a stop sign for speeding ticket.

In co-dependent relationships parents and children tend to get so used to sharing the burden that the blame naturally comes with it. Part of being a parent of someone recovering from addiction means you will eventually need to become comfortable with setting boundaries. For the co-dependent parent/child this can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, but in the long run it can alleviate unjustified guilt.

We would like to offer you the FREE GIFT of a checklist to help decipher if you are helping or hurting a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

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And as much as my mom wanted to protect me, love me and save me… it wasn’t her responsibility to fix me either.

Never Your Fault

This is important for ALL parents who end up in this position to understand- your child’s addiction is NEVER your fault.

People do not become addicts because their home life was tough. We don’t become addicts because we think we are unappreciated, unloved or just misunderstood. There is a lot more to how people become addicted than their relationships with their parents, and it’s not just the drugs. Addiction is not something we decide to have; it is something that happens with the right combination of genetics, environment and repeated behaviors.

A parent may provide their child with the greatest of all privileges, opportunities and support, but that doesn’t guarantee they won’t become addicted to substances. Kids can also grow up in a broken home with addicted parents and never use drugs in their lives. You could teach your kids very empowering and stable values, but it doesn’t mean that they have a 0% chance of ever trying something that might change them.

The science of addiction credits a genetic predisposition that combines with a specific environment and a specific set of behaviors. It is a perfect storm that is unpredictable in many ways, because the specific ingredients of the addiction formula are exclusively unique to each individual. It isn’t anyone’s fault, and it definitely isn’t a parents.

Dear Mom

To my mom…

Your love is the thing that kept me alive long enough to get here, so you should never question whether or not it was good enough. The problem wasn’t where I grew up, or the friends I had, and it definitely wasn’t how you raised me.

I was looking for a piece of myself I hadn’t had time to grow into. It was the piece I didn’t know how to look for in a healthy way, but you could not show me because no one can teach us but ourselves. Maybe the experience of looking itself is actually how we find it. Drugs and alcohol were a distraction from not having the answer to a much deeper question.

Mom, every loving and kind part of me came from you. You are one of the most powerful and influential women in my life. Still, the truth is my addiction was never up to you. I don’t say this to undermine your impact as a mother; it is to remind you that we are individuals, and that you have always done the best you could through every adversity. One day I pray I can be half the parent you are. I love you, and I only know what love truly means because of you.

To all mothers of addicts…

You are some of the most courageous and powerful women on the planet. It comes with the territory of bringing life into the world I guess. I can’t tell you how many other momma’s boys and mini-moms I’ve met in the recovery community. Even if your child is still struggling, always remember your strength and compassion. Always remember it is not your fault. You are amazing, and we are better because of you. Don’t give up.

Having a family member who has suffered can be harder on you than you know. Too many people don’t know how to get the help they need for their loved ones, and too many of our loved ones suffer for too long because they are afraid of the affects that the ones they care about most will face. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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