Families and Addiction By Susan Shipley All too often alcoholism and other drug addictions become a family legacy. More than 50% of today’s addicted adults are children of alcoholics, and there are millions challenged by other problems that result from alcoholism or drug
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By Susan Shipley
drug addictions become a family
legacy. More than 50% of today’s
addicted adults are children of
alcoholics, and there are millions
challenged by other problems that
result from alcoholism or drug
addiction in their families.
Little things become big and big things get minimized as pain is denied and slips out sideways.
Chaos, broken promises and untrustworthy behavior cause the children to become “parentified.”
The alarm bells in this system are constantly on a low hum, causing everyone to feel hyper-vigilant, ready to run for emotional or physical shelter or to erect their defenses at the first sign of trouble.
chronic anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, sexual and spending disorders.
Trauma in childhood can seriously impact development throughout life and can have pervasive and long lasting effects.
Hippocampus – Part of the brain where stimuli is assessed as to whether or not it is threatening. Not fully functional until age four or five.
Prefrontal cortex – Not fully mature until age eleven or older.
**This means that when a child is frightened, they have no way of understanding what is going on around them.
**They do not have the developmental or cognitive capabilities of assessing frightening stimuli for its level of threat.
**They need an external modulator (parent or caring adult) to help them to regulate themselves and calm down.
Without this help the painful stimuli may become locked in a sensory memory that lives within the self-system without insight, understanding or regulation.
Loss of Trust and Faith
Loss of Ability to Take in
Caring and Support
Problems With Self Regulation
High Risk Behaviors
Disorganized Inner World
Development Of Rigid Psychological Defenses
Cycles of Reenactment
Desire to Self MedicateCharacteristics of Adult Children of Trauma and Addiction
Recovery is equally as important for the addict as well as those who have lived in, developed their sense of self and learned relationship skills in an addicted / traumatized family.
Fact #1 Alcoholism / drug dependency is a disease.
Fact #2 You are not alone.
Fact #3 You cannot control your parent’s drinking or drug use.
Fact #4 You CAN talk about the problem.
I didn’t CAUSE it
I can’t CURE it
I can’t CONTROL it
I can help take CARE of myself by
COMMUNICATING my feelings
Making healthy CHOICES and
ReferencesDayton, Tian. "The Set Up: Living with Addiction." The Process Study Guide. Detroit, 2006.NACoA, comp. SAMHSA. National Association for Children of Alcoholics. Children of Alcoholics: A Kit for Educators . Rockville: Department of Health and Human Services, 2001.