How-to Guide:

Coping As Children of Addicted Parents

How to Cope As Children of Addicted Parents

When a person suffers from addiction, it affects more than just him or her. The people that are often affected the most when a person suffers from substance addiction are that person’s family members. It’s particularly difficult for children of addicted parents to deal with the negative effects of addiction. This is because children of addicted parents are often young and still developing themselves. 

Often, children will need to step up to take care of parents who suffer from a substance use disorder. This is a dangerous role reversal as parents are supposed to support and guide their children. 

If you’re the child of an addicted parent and you want to learn how to properly cope, there are some facts you should know. Below is a guide with information to help you manage being the child of an addicted parent. 

How Addicted Parents Affect Their Children

Children of addicted parents are negatively affected by their parent’s substance use issues in a number of waysChildren of addicted parents are negatively affected by their parent’s substance use issues in a number of ways. Some of the concerning ways that children are negatively affected by the substance addictions of their parents are described below. 

Exposes Them to Violence

Children of addicted parents often receive exposure to domestic violence. This is due to their parents acting reckless and getting into physical altercations while under the influence. Exposure to such violence can be very traumatizing for young children. 

Expose Them to Overdoses

Many other children of addicted parents witness their mother or father overdose on drugs. This can be traumatizing for children of any age.

Provide Them With Little to No Parental Support or Guidance

Parents with substance addictions spend all of their time abusing drugs or trying to get more drugs to abuse. Thus, they often neglect to take care of their children or give them parental support. Such negligent parenting often forces the children of addicted parents to take on parental responsibilities. 

Such neglect also often causes children of addicted parents to struggle socially, in school, and professionally.  Many children of addicted parents are even forced to live in poverty. This is due to their addicted parents spending all their money on substances. 

Cause Them to Experience Self-Esteem Issues

Many children of addicted parents become embarrassed about their home lives and the fact that they don’t have model parents. This is especially the case if their parents’ substance addictions have forced them to live in poverty or take on parental responsibilities. As a result, many children of addicted parents experience severe self-esteem issues. 

Having parents get arrested is traumatizing for children. Children May Witness Their Parent’s Arrest 

Some parents with addictions get arrested for their use of illegal substances. Unfortunately, this often causes children of addicted parents to have to experience their mothers or fathers being incarcerated. Having parents get arrested is traumatizing for children. Having parents in jail not only makes life harder on children, but it’s also very traumatizing. 

Cause Their Children to Fear Losing Their Parents

Many parents with addictions use illegal substances and neglect their parental duties. Thus, their children may fear that their parents may get arrested one day. This is not an unreasonable fear as many parents with substance addictions end up incarcerated at some point in life. Some children of addicted parents may even fear that child protective services may take them away from their parents. 

Force Their Children to Experience Mistreatment and Abuse

While under the influence, parents with substance addictions may act out in reckless ways that they normally wouldn’t. For example, some parents with substance addictions mistreat or abuse their children physically or emotionally. 

Force Their Children Into a Role Reversal

Something horrible that children of addicted parents often experience is a forced role reversal. By this, we mean that children of addicted parents must take on parental responsibilities at an early age. This may include having to be responsible for everything from finances to providing shelter and parental support for their siblings. In fact, many children of addicted parents are forced to take care of their mothers or fathers. This often ages children of addicted parents prematurely. 

Force Their Children Into Experiencing Unhealthy Parent-Child Emotional Engagement

Many children of addicted parents are forced to support their mothers and fathers. As a result, they are often forced to engage in unhealthy and inappropriate emotional engagement with their parents. For example, children of addicted parents may be forced to listen to their mothers or fathers talk about inappropriate sexual experiences in front of them while they are drunk or high. 

Children of addicted parents may also be forced to sleep in the same beds as their mothers and fathers. This is due to their parents experiencing withdrawal and/or addiction symptoms such as feeling depressed or anxious. Children of addicted parents may even be forced to drop everything in their lives to constantly babysit their parents or rescue their parents from harmful situations. 

Coping as Children of Addicted Parents 

Many children of addicted parents blame themselves for their parents’ substance use issues. For example, many children think to themselves that if they were better, their parents wouldn’t abuse drugs. This is a wrong and unhealthy thought, though. 

To maintain good mental health, children of addicted parents should think positively and remind themselves of the following things:

1. Addiction Is a Disease

All children of addicted parents should remember that addiction is a disease. If children of addicted parents frequently remind themselves of this, they’ll recognize that there is nothing that they could’ve done to change their parents’ actions. 

Remember, parents don’t abuse substances because they don’t love their children. They abuse substances because they are suffering from the disease of addiction.

2. You Are Not Alone

There are many children of addicted parents in the U.S. and the world. To help you manage your mental health as a child of an addicted parent, it’s good to remind yourself that you are not alone. Many support groups exist to help people overcome the secondhand effects of addiction. 

3. It’s Alright to Talk About It

You can confide in trustworthy adults about your situation if things become too difficult for you. Oftentimes, children of addicted parents feel that they must keep their parents’ substance addictions a secret out of fear that speaking about it will cause them to lose their parents. 

With this thinking though, things at home will likely only get worse. Thus, if you know an adult that you trust, remind yourself that it’s alright to confide in him or her and reach out for help. 

Ways for Children of Addicted Parents to Build the Confidence to Speak Up

Oftentimes, children of addicted parents need to build confidence within themselves. By building confidence within themselves, children of addicted parents can overcome any self-esteem issues. 

Gaining confidence can also help children of addicted parents gain the courage to speak up and seek help outside of the home when they need to. To build the confidence to speak up for themselves, children of addicted parents should do the things suggested below.

Children of addicted parents should confide in trusted adults about their situations. Find a Trusted Adult to Confide In

Children of addicted parents should confide in trusted adults about their situations. This is especially true if a child is young and his or her parent’s addiction is causing the child to experience violence, mistreatment, or neglect. By having a trusted adult close by, children of addicted parents can receive reassurance that they’re making the right decision in seeking help outside of the home. 

Journal

Journaling is a great way to work through one’s thoughts and emotions. By journaling, children of addicted parents can work through their thoughts and emotions enough to build confidence in their decision-making. 

Participate in Activities That They Enjoy

Participating in activities that one enjoys and is good at is a great way for anyone to build confidence. Thus, children of addicted parents can also use this tactic to build confidence within themselves. 

It’s vital that children of addicted parents have people and places that they can turn to to feel safe. Have Safe Places That They Can Turn to

It’s vital that children of addicted parents have people and places that they can turn to to feel safe. By having people and places that they can turn to when things get rough, children of addicted parents can receive reassurance that they’re not alone.

Have Emergency Contacts

Children of addicted parents should also have emergency contacts. This is in case their parents overdose or start abusing someone in the home. A child’s list of emergency contacts should include trusted family members and other responsible adult figures that he or she is close to. 

Remember That It’s Not Their Fault

Another thing that children of addicted parents should do to build their own confidence is remind themselves that their parents’ addictions aren’t their fault. Simply doing this on a daily basis will improve the self-esteem of children of addicted parents. 

The Seven Cs 

Children should always be able to focus on just being kids and having fun. Unfortunately, children of addicted parents often lose their innocence and ability to just be kids. To help children of addicts be able to retain some of their childhood innocence, they should remember the seven Cs below as it pertains to their parents’ addictions. 

  1. I didn’t Cause it.
  2. I can’t Cure it.
  3. I can’t Control it.
  4. I can Care for myself.
  5. I should Communicate my feelings. 
  6. I should make healthy Choices.
  7. I should Celebrate myself. 

How to Stage an Intervention for Your Parent

Talking to a parent about substance abuse can be difficult for children. This is because it’s usually not a child’s responsibility to hold a parent accountable for his or her wrongdoings. The best way for children to talk to their parents about substance abuse and convince them to attend rehab is to stage an intervention.

To stage a proper intervention, children of addicted parents should first write down talking points. Children of addicted parents should then contact professional interventionists that can help them stage proper interventions.

Interventions shouldn’t be done by just one person. To convince a parent to attend rehab, individuals should invite the parent’s other close relatives and friends to come to the intervention and talk about their concerns as well. 

Just make sure to arrange a time for the intervention when everyone is available. Also, make sure to conduct the intervention at a time when the parent isn’t drunk or high. 

What to Do During the Intervention 

During the intervention, children of addicted parents should calmly and directly state their talking points. Any close relative or family friends that are a part of the intervention should do the same. 

Hopefully, by staging an intervention, your parent will realize the severity of his or her substance use. Parents that receive interventions for drug addictions should also hopefully recognize that they need help. 

Once you get your parent to recognize that he or she needs help overcoming substance addiction, you should give your parent information on rehab facilities nearby that he or she can receive treatment at. After doing that, all that’s left to do is make sure that your parent follows through with attending rehab. 

Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located near Memphis, Tennessee that treats addictions and their co-occurring mental illnesses. Parents With Substance Addictions Should Attend Rehab At Grace Land Recovery

Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located near Memphis, Tennessee that treats addictions and their co-occurring mental illnesses. Here at Grace Land Recovery, we recognize that anyone can develop any type of substance addiction, including parents. That’s why we offer a variety of addiction and dual diagnosis treatment programs that we specialize by substance and individualize by patient. 

Here at Grace Land Recovery, we also make sure to offer a wide variety of addiction therapies and clinical services. Individuals that live in Tennessee and are looking for a quality rehab facility to suggest to their parents should look into Grace Land Recovery. 

To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and the wide variety of addiction treatment programs, therapies, and services that we offer, contact us today! Our phone lines are open 24/7 and our treatment center’s office hours are Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm.

Do not hesitate to contact me!

Individual, Couples and Family Counseling.

To learn more about our facility, feel free to contact us anytime. Our phone lines are open 24/7 just to take any calls that come our way. At Grace Land Recovery Center, we always put the needs of our patients first. Therefore, you can rest assured that you’re in compassionate and caring hands when receiving care at our treatment center. So what are you waiting for? Contact us and begin your journey to achieving sobriety today!

Call us today. 615-785-1137

Contact Us

For Assistance to Emergency Addiction Issues or Answers to Inquiries, Contact Us

Grace Land Recovery Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area. Our address is 134 Timber Creek Drive Cordova, Tennessee 38018. To visit our treatment center during business hours, feel free to stop by anytime Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. You can also contact us over the phone at 615-785-1137.

Our phone lines are open 24/7 just so that we can receive any important calls that come our way. If we happen to miss your call, we’ll make sure to try to call you back immediately. Another way that you can get in contact with us here at Grace Land Recovery Center is through email; you can message us at info@gracelandrecovery.com. You can also get in contact with someone at our facility by emailing jim.h@gracelandrecovery.com.

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