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Growing Up with Parental Alcoholism: How Drinking Effects Children

Growing Up with Parental Alcoholism: How Drinking Effects Children

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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

5 Things We Want the Parents of Addicts to Know

5 Things We Want the Parents of Addicts to Know

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Having a family member or loved one struggling with drugs or alcohol is an incredibly tough place to be. For parents, it can be one of the most emotionally difficult experiences. Having a child who is using drugs or alcohol can be terrifying, but it can also cause a lot of internal conflict and self-doubt. Loved ones frequently find themselves looking for answers to questions they never knew to ask, and wondering how they can help make a difference. The parents of addicts have to face a lot of unique and intimate obstacles, but there are some very important things to remember when facing this painful situation.

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 are 5 things we want the parents of addicts to know.

  1. You are not alone

When struggling with something as personal and as frightening as having an addicted child, people can feel separate from others. Many parents feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed when their child is struggling with substance use disorder. This embarrassment or shame can lead to feelings of isolation.

The truth is there are countless families all across the nation going through the same thing. You are not alone. There are support groups specifically for the families and loved ones of addicts, and large networks of people seeking to provide information and support to parents of addicts who don’t know what to do or how to help.

In the face of the opioid epidemic in America, thousands of families have stepped up to advocate for better resources to educate the public about the dangers of addiction, and for better treatment opportunities. Nationwide organizations created by the parents of addicts fight to raise awareness, while treatment providers put an emphasis on the family being active in the recovery process.

  1. It is not your fault

Of course parents take responsibility for their children, because it is their duty when they are born to protect them, raise them and help them grow to their potential. So it is no surprise that parents of addicts so often blame themselves for what their child is going through.

Many ask- what if I had been better? Should I have been more (or less) strict? Should I have been more (or less) affectionate? Parents of addicts can beat themselves up very easily with wondering what if, but the truth is it is not your fault.

Yes, many experts say there is a genetic predisposition, but everyone has one. It isn’t your genes, it’s a combination of unique DNA and unique circumstances. Yes, the environment matters, but again there is no one-size-fits-all formula to substance use disorder. People of all walks of life, in every neighborhood and from every kind of home suffer from addiction. Therefore, there is no exact parenting technique that can guarantee a child will never become addicted.

Most parents of addicts are the greatest version of a parent they possibly can be, but addiction does not discriminate. Helping more parents and family members to see this is another way we can overcome the stigma of addiction.

  1. You can help overcome stigma

A lot of that shame and isolation we talked about above stems from the stigma of addiction. Some people still think substance use disorder is a moral failing or character flaw. They believe becoming addicted is a choice people made, not an illness people suffer from. This stigma makes people afraid to be open with others about their child’s addiction, which cuts them off from peer support.

It is important for the parents of addicts to help destroy the old stigmas that give people a false idea of what addiction really is. Parents have the power to share their experience, strength and stories of hope from a unique perspective. Addiction is one of the most misunderstood diseases in modern times, but the more parents of addicts share their stories, more awareness and understanding can help create innovations in treatment.

By being open about the difficulties your child has faced instead of hiding from it, not only can you be a warning to other families, but you can also empower them to understand that they too are not alone. Parents have a unique potential to stand up for their children and for each other to overcome stigma.

  1. You have to take care of yourself

As a parent, it is absolutely understandable that your instincts tell you to put your own health and well-being after that of your child. But the reality is that if you are physically and emotionally exhausted, stressed out and unhealthy then there is no way you can provide the kind of help and support your child needs. You cannot be useful to anyone, especially your child, if you have not taken care of yourself.

If the parents of addicts can prioritize their own well-being, then they have the energy and resources to be more present and helpful to their addicted child. Allowing yourself to be as well as possible is not neglecting your loved one, it is preparing you for the opportunity to make a difference in their life.

This includes setting boundaries with your children, and being honest with them about what you are going through under these circumstances. It is not always easy, but it does matter.

  1. We want to help!

At Palm Healthcare we want to make a difference in the lives of individuals and families who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. We believe in holistic healing as a stepping stone to real, lasting recovery. Palm Healthcare Company believes in the importance of uniting the parents, children, siblings and loved ones in the cause of progressive action toward amazing solutions that can not only save lives, but change them forever. For several years our facilities have worked to transform the lives of addicts and those closest to them.

Our Family Program is uniquely designed with healing for you and your loved one in mind. The Family Program focuses on improving communication, compassion, understanding and the overall support and of the entire family. We encourage all parents of addicts to research the Palm Healthcare Company Family Program and reach out to us with any questions.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the person who is drinking or drugging, it affects all those that are close to that person. Emotionally, physically, financially, the toll can be significant. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab?

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab?

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For parents, one of the most difficult decisions can come when your child is struggling with drug abuse or alcohol abuse. You may end up looking desperately for answers that are not as cut and dry as we would hope. Part of you may want to force your child to get treatment, even if they are in denial of their substance use or just refuse to accept help. So you ask- can I make my child go to rehab?

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Trouble with Teens

Because underage children cannot begin to understand just how much drugs or alcohol can impact their futures, and their health, they are the people most likely to resist getting help. Teenagers are also less likely to have control over their impulsive behaviors because their brains are still not fully developed.

Of course if your child is a minor, it is possible to make them go. Legally, anyone under the age of 18 years old can actually be placed into a residential drug treatment facility without their consent. In the United States, if the child’s parent or legal guardian has custody and a right to protect the child, then they are able to take some extreme action if needed.

However, while it is legal, the bigger question may become should you make your child go to rehab? Is this the most effective way?

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Adult Children

But what if your child is not a minor?

Well, it is still possible to force one of your adult children into treatment in some states. In a few states across America there are laws that allow family members to legitimately force addicts into rehab. In some states where these laws don’t already exist there are movements to push for such legislation. However, making an adult child go to treatment is not just picking a place, grabbing the person and dropping them off. With trying to make an adult get treatment, there is more of a process.

For example, in the state of Florida there is a law called the Marchman Act. This is one of the more progressive laws in America regarding drug and alcohol rehab.

The Marchman Act requires that in order to petition for an addict to be involuntarily admitted to treatment, there has to be present either:

  • A spouse
  • A relative
  • In the absence of family members, three people who have direct contact and understanding of the addict’s condition

Whoever the petitioners, the individuals must be able to provide proof that the individual has lost control and that are likely to harm themselves or someone else. The state you live in may have different stipulations for involuntary commitment to a drug or alcohol treatment facility.

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Intervention

One way people will decide to try and make their child go to drug treatment is by staging an intervention. Sometimes this is done with a professional intervention specialist, and other times it is something organized by the family and loved ones of the individual. In this context, some parents or loved ones may try to blackmail or bribe the individual into getting help.

The term ‘tough love’ is thrown around a lot in situations like this, but while it is important to set boundaries with loved ones, having a more compassionate and supportive approach is often much more effective when trying to actually help a loved one or child to end their suffering.

Communication is key. Having an understanding of what a loved one is going through and what the risks are is crucial to having a constructive and helpful conversation about addiction and getting treatment.

Can I Make My Child Go to Rehab: Should I Try?

After looking at your options, the more pressing question becomes- should I make my child go to rehab?

Of course there is no one-size-fits-all answer for this, but there are those who would suggest involuntary treatment is not as effective as voluntary treatment. Many would argue that recovery requires a real effort, and that someone who does not want to get clean will not succeed.

Others will refute this, and say there is no reason to believe that just because someone does not want to go to treatment doesn’t mean it won’t work. Courts will still sometimes mandate drug treatment in some form, and many people have attended rehab or went to recovery support groups and gotten clean and sober without an initial desire to do so. Also, some would rather their child be institutionalized in some way to keep them off the streets, regardless of what they want.

It is completely understandable for a parent to try to do everything in their power to get your child the help they desperately need. At the same time, it may be important to show compassion, support and have a direct and open conversation before trying to force someone into treatment. The reality is, if they have a bad experience they may never try again. Make sure to be honest and comprehensive, while also setting firm boundaries.

Addiction is a family disease. To learn more about setting healthy boundaries, download our 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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Forcing your child to go to rehab may not be the best way to get them help, but it can save them, if only briefly. Ultimately, finding a safe and effective treatment program creates the opportunity for lasting change and growth. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We all need a little help sometimes, and Palm Healthcare Company wants to help you.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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