growing up around addiction

Children who are raised in an environment where one or both parents are alcoholics may be three to four more times as likely to develop alcohol dependence as adults. Behavioral and emotional issues may arise from dysfunction in the home. Alcoholism and addiction affects the entire family including issues around boundaries and communication. Learn about the effects growing up around addiction and how to seek help.


Characteristics of Children from Addicted Homes

A home should be based on mutual love and respect for one another including a feeling of safety around both parents. In the case of addiction in a family environment, a child may grow to feel afraid, uncertain or even angry about circumstances out of the child’s control. Family of origin issues and alcoholism or addictive behaviors go hand-in-hand. As a mother or father transitions in and out of recovery, a family often works to transition with the individual which affects the entire household.


Risks of Addiction in the Home

Adult children of alcoholics or parents with addiction may experience an increased chance of also becoming alcoholic or addicted to other substances. A child suffers many disadvantages growing up in such a tumultuous environment. Genetics and environmental factors all play a role in how a child responds to a family environment where addiction is present.


Common Traits of Growing up around Addiction

When a child grows up in a family with addictive behaviors, some common traits emerge. These might include the following:

  • Fear of intimacy or change
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Feelings of abandonment and making mistakes
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Manipulative
  • Perfectionistic tendencies


As a result of growing up around parents with addiction, children develop psychological mechanisms to deal with the stress and may withdraw or act out depending on the child’s personality and individual circumstances. Some physical violence may also occur which can severely hinder a child’s psychological and social emotional development when it comes to making friends, seeking intimate partners or making positive life choices.


Treatment for Adult Children of Addicted Parents

While some adult children of addicted parents may grow into well-adjusted individuals, others can struggle to cope with the emotional weight of the parental upbringing. Relationships may also suffer as a result. Many adult children benefit from seeking treatment through attendance at AA meetings or other similar support groups while others may have success through twelve-step programs or alternative healing therapies.

Therapists and counselors can provide psychological support and resources for children of families with addiction. Others may develop addiction to cope and require assistance dealing with underlying issues as well as learning to cope in life without drinking or using drugs. One of the biggest hurdles to treatment is acknowledging the need for help. Once this occurs, the next step is to seek out professionals who can provide the right support to move towards recovery.


Adult children of addicted parents need support and resources. If you need help overcoming addiction or grew up around addiction, there is hope. Contact us at 800-910-9299 to find out how we can support your journey to recovery. 

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