Saturday October 1st 2016

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Addicts living at home: Are you hurting your kids?

Children: Co-addiction Does Not End With You

If you are in a relationship with an addict and children are involved (co-addiction relationships), you may need to deal with some consequences in the next generation.  If you’ve started thinking, “I am married to an addict!”, or if your spouse has recovered or you removed your children from the situation and are in recovery, the psychological effects and learned behaviors experienced may not end with the co-addict and addict. The damage may reach as far as your offspring.

A double-edged sword

On one side, children of addiction may be genetically predisposed to addictive behaviors and were most likely exposed to the patterns of the addicted parent. On the other side, they also bear the genes of the co-addicted parent and have most likely witnessed their unhealthy behaviors as well. Behaviors children have witnessed from both parents may not have been necessarily healthy.

If a family is dealing with an actively addicted parent, then this could be considered a family in crisis. Although a crisis can be conquered, sometimes these times of crisis can last weeks, months, years, or even the entire span of a child’s life.

If I am in recovery does that mean my child is?

I finally left my unhealthy co-addictive marriage with my five year old daughter. We moved from a seventy-five hundred square foot home with five bedrooms and six baths, into a one bedroom, one bath, we now had to share. Life was different not just on the inside but on the outside as well.

I remarried, and started a wonderful new family. I felt free for the first time. I had no connection with my ex-husband and therefore, he had no influence on my daughter anymore. I changed my unhealthy patterns. My daughter never spoke of her father and excelled in school. She looked happy and seemed to be thriving. I thought everything was fine. We made it through…a clean break!

I left my husband while my daughter was still young so I assumed she did not experience or see much. But one day I watched my daughter staring at another little girl with her father. I saw that there was a father-daughter connection she recognized but knew she was missing. Exposing her to her father, still an active addict, was not the right choice,but I needed her to be able to open up about how she was feeling. I sent her to a community program that helped children of addicted parents. I knew that her walking away unscathed was not possible, but how much more she needed I was unaware of. As it turned out, she saw everything; she knew things that I thought I protected her from.

Trusted Helpline
Help Available 24/7
1-888-882-1456
PRIVACY GUARANTEED

Setting a good example and moving forward is the best route to take in breaking the cycle of addiction, but there may be psychic scars, emotional voids, and unhealthy behavior patterns your child may still be living with.

6 things you can do for your child

1. Be open and honest.

Be open and honest with your child without disclosing all of the dirty details. Make sure they know the lines of communication are open. Sometimes asking them over and over again how they are, might help them open up. Showing you care about them and how they feel is a great way to support them and show them they matter. It is more than likely their needs were pushed to the side for the addicted parent and rebuilding trust and faith in you as a parent is very important.

2. Lead by example.

If you and your spouse continue the cycle of addiction, it is more than likely that is all they will know. If you set a good example, exhibit healthy behaviors, and lead a happy life, they will likely follow. Children take cues from their parents; if a parent is constantly angry, depressed or worried, this will affect a child’s ability to feel like a child. If you get help, this is a great start.

3. Maintain friends and activities.

Try and maintain friendships for them. Allow them to be around other children, play, and most of all, act like children. In an age of play dates, sometimes this is not always easy, so buddy up with a friend and one day you watch their child and the other they can watch yours. Find a friend who will understand your situation and if something comes up, drop them at a friend’s house rather than see you go through a tough situation.

4. Find community support.

There are countless numbers of programs for children of addicted parents. Help is out there. These programs are designed to address the issue of addiction gently and allow children to open up to their feelings about what they have experienced in a safe environment.

5. Seek therapy

Even if you think your child is perfectly untouched by your situation, sometimes it is a good idea to have a professional double check. A lot of times, children will be strong for their parents. They will not tell their parents how they feel like they will tell an unbiased party. I learned a lot about how my daughter really felt after sending her to a therapist.

6. Dance!

Dance, wiggle, shake, and sing with your children. Dance with reckless abandon. Show them a good time. Experiencing happiness and fun with you will let them know you are okay and if they see you are happy and okay, they might follow suit.

Just because you are okay, does not necessarily mean your children are. Children are sponges. They absorb everything that goes on around them. It is never too late to stop them from repeating the same cycle of addiction they grew up in. You can take action now and help them heal, grow and flourish.

Children: Co-addiction Does Not End With You

If you are in a relationship with an addict and children are involved, you may need to deal with some consequences in the next generation.  If your spouse has recovered or you removed your children from the situation and are in recovery, the psychological effects and learned behaviors experienced may not end with the co-addict and addict.  The damage may reach as far as your offspring.

A double-edged sword

On one side, children of addiction may be genetically predisposed to addictive behaviors and were most likely exposed to the patterns of the addicted parent.  On the other side, they also bear the genes of the co-addicted parentand have most likely witnessed their unhealthy behaviors as well.  Behaviors children have witnessed from both parents may not have been necessarily healthy.

If a family is dealing with an actively addicted parent, then this could be considered a family in crisis. Although a crisis can be conquered, sometimes these times of crisis can last weeks, months, years, or even the entire span of a child’s life.

If I am in recovery does that mean my child is?

I finally left my unhealthy co-addictive marriage with my five year old daughter.  We moved from a seventy-five hundred square foot home with five bedrooms and six baths, into a one bedroom, one bath, we now had to share.  Life was different not just on the inside but on the outside as well.

I remarried, and started a wonderful new family.  I felt free for the first time.  I had no connection with my ex-husband and therefore, he had no influence on my daughter anymore.  I changed my unhealthy patterns.  My daughter never spoke of her father and excelledin school.  She looked happy andseemed to be thriving.  I thought everything was fine.  We made it through…a clean break!

I left my husband while my daughter was still young so I assumed she did not experience or see much.  But one day I watched my daughter staring at another little girl with her father.  I saw that there was a father-daughter connection she recognized but knew she was missing.  Exposing her to her father, still an active addict, was not the right choice,but I needed her to be able to open up about how she was feeling.  I sent her to a community program that helped children of addicted parents.  I knew that her walking away unscathed was not possible, but how much more she needed I was unaware of.  As it turned out, she saw everything; she knew things that I thought I protected her from.

Setting a good example and moving forward is the best route to take in breaking the cycle of addiction, but there may be psychic scars, emotional voids, and unhealthy behavior patterns your child may still be living with.

6 things you can do for your child

1. Be open and honest.

Be open and honest with your child without disclosing all of the dirty details.  Make sure they know the lines of communication are open.  Sometimes asking them over and over again how they are, might help them open up.  Showing you care about them and how they feel is a great way to support them and show them they matter.  It is more than likely their needs were pushed to the side for the addicted parent and rebuilding trust and faith in you as a parent is very important.

2. Lead by example.

If you and your spouse continue the cycle of addiction, it is more than likely that is all they will know.  If you set a good example, exhibit healthy behaviors, and lead a happy life, they will likely follow.  Children take cues from their parents; if a parent is constantly angry, depressed or worried, this will affect a child’s ability to feel like a child.  If you get help, this is a great start.

3. Maintain friends and activities.

Try and maintain friendships for them.  Allow them to be around other children, play, and most of all, act like children.  In an age of play dates, sometimes this is not always easy, so buddy up with a friend and one day you watch their child and the other they can watch yours.  Find a friend who will understand your situation and if something comes up, drop them at a friend’s house rather than see you go through a tough situation.

4. Find community support.

There are countless numbers of programs for children of addicted parents.  Help is out there.  These programs are designed to address the issue of addiction gently and allow children to open up to their feelings about what they have experienced in a safe environment.

5. Seek therapy

Even if you think your child is perfectly untouched by your situation, sometimes it is a good idea to have a professional double check.  A lot of times, children will be strong for their parents.  They will not tell their parents how they feel like they will tell an unbiased party.  I learned a lot about how my daughter really felt after sending her to a therapist.

6. Dance!

Dance, wiggle, shake, and sing with your children.  Dance with reckless abandon.  Show them a good time.  Experiencing happiness and fun with you will let them know you are okay and if they see you are happy and okay, they might follow suit.

Just because you are okay, does not necessarily mean your children are.  Children are sponges.  They absorb everything that goes on around them.  It is never too late to stop them from repeating the same cycle of addiction they grew up in.  You can take action now and help them heal, grow and flourish.

Leave a Reply

3 Responses to “Addicts living at home: Are you hurting your kids?
Tamara
2:40 am October 10th, 2015

I just kicked out my 34 years old heroin addict son. The absolute hardest problem i hav faced. He has been addicted to every drug out there but heroin is the result off not being able to get prescrptions for dilaudid. His health is quickly deteriorating. I had him arrested in Dec 2014. He was becoming verbally & emotionally abusive. Police found heroin & meth in his possession. My son has no prior crimal history so they did not keep him in jail. He has NEVER tried rehab. I am guilty of doing all the wrong enabling behaviors & now i have reached my limit. My financeds are depleted. I’ve been in & out of hospital this past year for serious surgeries. I want to stop worrying about him. I want to find strength toignore his blaming & shaming attacks at me. Every relationship he has is destroyed. He cant get a jo. He has lost his drivers license & totalled my car i let him borrow. Still shows no remorse & i’ve never heard an apology. I need the strength to maintain my promise not to let him back in my house. I hate it so much thst he is now living on the streets
Thank yo & blessings to those who are suffering as i am. Tamara

3:17 pm November 4th, 2015

Hi Tamara. I understand the pain you feel and problems you have because of your son’s addictive behavior. But, I also read he has never been in an addiction treatment facility. Rehab is not only about someone stopping use, but helps by addressing the root causes that lead a person to use substances as a way of coping with problems. I suggest you call the free helpline number displayed on our site to get in touch with our trusted treatment providers who can help you and your son with structured programs that will address all aspects of addiction.

Amanda Andruzzi
3:21 am November 8th, 2015

Tamara,
I know there is no pain like watching a child destroy their life. You need him to hot bottom and ask for help and enabling won’t help him at all to get there. He needs to see that he cannot go on like this. You won’t ever stop caring or loving him but you can do that from a distance so you don’t have to be in pain every moment of your life and try to get your life back. What you can do is let him know you are there for him and you love him unconditionally but that you can no longer see him self-destruct. You will be there to help him get into a recovery program (please read my other articles here on some steps to do that) when he wants to. The idea is to let go and be there when he is ready for help. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Amanda Andruzzi, published author, Hope Street, a memoir from the wife of an addict
View the Video BOOK Trailer: http://sbprabooks.com/amandaandruzzi/video/

About Amanda Andruzzi

Amanda Andruzzi, MPH, AADP, CHES, is a Certified Health Coach, founder of Symptom-Free Wellness, and the author of Hope Street. Her first book, Hope Street memoir is an inspirational story of one woman's frightening journey of co-addiction that led her to uncover courage, unbelievable strength and overcome great adversity. She resides with her daughter, husband, and two sons in Florida.

Trusted Helpline
Help Available 24/7
1-888-882-1456
PRIVACY
GUARANTEED