The strain of addiction is enormous, not only in the nuclear family, but in society as well.
Statistics claim addiction touches the lives of at least four others. Many of those impacted negatively are children. Approximately 28 million children in the United States live in a home with at least one parent ‘under the influence’.
Each child learns to cope with the stress of active addiction in their own particular manner. Often what begins as an appropriate and viable defense to placate tension in the home deteriorates into an unhealthy set of behaviors. Over time these ways of acting and reacting become engrained patterns of behavior which are limiting and unproductive.
Most children find it difficult to ask for help. Some may even initially refuse, but assistance from others is critical to their well being. A safe place to talk, some age-appropriate information, and the company of others can help children understand and explore their feelings, responses, and options.
Relatives, teachers, and/or educational programs can become facets in a network of support to present new skills and bolster resilience. Child psychiatrists, family therapists, and drug and alcohol counselors with strong family programs can help address feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger,and depression children may experience.
Let us remain mindful of needs of children who live in a home burdened by the disease of addiction. Helping children recognize and release their patterns of behavior and offering them healthier alternatives will go a long way toward thwarting the cycle of addiction in families.
***As seen in the September 2014 issue of “The Sober World” magazine – p 37