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How Does Addiction Affect Children?

addiction and family

Addiction’s ripple effects on families and relationships are especially devastating. The impact of growing up around substance abuse can be profound, causing trauma and impairing a young child’s emotional and psychological development. Having one or more addicted family members is an example of an adverse childhood experience, which can leave a child more vulnerable to a host of mental, physical and behavioral health issues – including perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

The Impact of Growing up in a Dysfunctional Family

Younger children who lack any positive role models might emulate their parents’ self-destructive behavior, not realizing it is toxic. That explains how family dysfunctions like a lack of empathy and communication can continue long into adulthood, perpetuating a trauma cycle.

According to the American Psychological Association, a family is dysfunctional if “relationships or communication are impaired and members are unable to attain closeness and self-expression.” Children who grow up in these environments may struggle to process complicated emotions and express their feelings in a healthy way.

When substance abuse and related instabilities characterize childhood, there are likely few to no adult role models to teach essential life skills like assertiveness and conflict resolution. Adult children of addicted parents may also carry a significant burden of guilt, shame and trauma.

How Substance Abuse Harms Family Members

An extensive body of research has detailed how substance abuse places tremendous mental, physical, emotional, social and financial strain on families and kids. Harvard researchers classified addiction as “toxic stress,” meaning it’s a form of prolonged adversity that makes people more susceptible to mental and physical health problems like depression, high blood pressure, cognitive impairment and substance abuse.

The compulsion to drink or use can be powerful enough to cause people to lose sight of every other priority in their lives – including putting their partners and children on the back burner. Part of helping a loved one get sober means encouraging them to confront the realities of what addiction did to your family, so they can work on becoming fully present in your lives.

We’re Here When You Need Us

Often, a professionally managed family intervention is the only thing that eventually succeeds in convincing an addicted person to seek treatment. By sharing their prepared remarks about how the addiction, dysfunction and lack of parental presence have harmed them and made their lives more of a struggle, family members can break through the layers of denial and help their loved one finally accept help.

If your loved one refuses to admit they have a problem, is unwilling to go to treatment, fails to respect boundaries or is threatening your family, contact us today. Intervention On Call offers convenient remote consultations that fit into your schedule. Our specialists have performed thousands of successful interventions, bringing their combined decades of experience to restore families’ peace of mind.

Make an Appointment

Each appointment is priced at a flat rate of $150/hour. To get started, all you need to do is complete the accelerated registration process on our secure telehealth platform. In just five minutes, you can access real-time solutions from credentialed interventionists—no more endless searches, racing thoughts, or sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do. We’re here for you.

Intervention On Call
Free Family Support Group

An excellent resource for families struggling with addiction.