How Learned Behaviors Could Pass Your Substance Abuse On to Your Children

How Learned Behaviors Could Pass Your Substance Abuse On to Your Children

No parent wants his or her children to struggle with substance abuse and addiction, but the tragic truth is that a majority of people who become addicts had parents who were addicts. Growing up as the child of an addict greatly increases the likelihood of future addiction. While there are certainly genetic or biological components that may increase the likelihood that your child will someday face this terrible disease, there are also myriad learned behaviors that the children of addicts learns through observation. There are things you can do, right now, that will greatly reduce the likelihood that your son or daughter will inherit your disease.

What Do Your Children See in You?

Addiction changes your perception. You may think that you children don’t know anything about your substance abuse, or that your addiction is not affecting your parenting, but the truth is that your disease has likely blinded you to what is really happening all around you. This is the same neurological phenomenon that often causes the addict to be the last to know that he or she has a problem. It’s not that you lack intelligence or understanding, it’s just that the disease is distorting your views.

Most children of addicts observe many of the following things for years:

  • The only way Dad can relax is by having a drink
  • Verbal and physical abuse is a common way to deal with disputes
  • When mom drinks she becomes cooler and more fun for awhile before things get really bad
  • Alcohol is one of the first things to turn to when life gets difficult

There is a very good chance that your children are noticing all kinds of behavior associated with drinking or drugs. Regardless of how often you tell them not to abuse intoxicating substances, the simple fact is that they are much more likely to do what they see you do, not what you tell them to do. Whether you become extra fun and jolly when you drink, or violent and terrifying, they notice.

Changing Your Addictive Behavior

The most powerful thing addicted parents can do to reverse the effects substance abuse has had on their children is to change that addictive behavior. You can only hide something for so long. You may think that full recovery is impossible for you. Maybe you have already tried to quit in the past but have failed. Now, however, you have us in your corner. With our help you will get connected to an excellent treatment program that can reverse the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in your brain.

The most successful addiction recovery programs accomplish this through the following types of treatment:

  • Personal and confidential counseling of various types
  • Support group gatherings
  • Educational programs that empower and embolden your recovery
  • Coping and relaxation skill development
  • Creative or arts therapy to help you get in touch with your emotions
  • Family counseling and education
  • Aftercare for long-term sobriety

Some of these programs are outpatient in nature, but if residential treatment is an option you should strongly consider it. These full-time programs focus all of your energy on healing without any of the daily distractions of life. Sure, it can be difficult to leave your kids for a season, but giving them the lifelong gift of having a sober parent will make the short-term sacrifice more than worth it.

Support for the Family Members of an Addict

While your support of your kids is critically important, and your willingness to enter treatment will speak volumes to them about your character and your love for them, there are other services available to the children of recovering addicts that can really boost your child’s odds of avoiding your addictive mistakes. Programs like Al Anon and Al Ateen are specially designed to get kids talking about their feelings and fears and to help them become mindful of their own habits and ideas. There is something very positive and powerful about speaking with peers who are facing the same addiction issues with their addicted parent.

Most residential treatment programs allow for visits during rehab and many offer family counseling right there in the same facility. The children of an addict must learn about and understand the following truths in order to avoid following in their parent’s footsteps:

  • Mindfulness is key to recognizing emotional shifts and underlying psychological pain
  • Alcohol and drugs are not effective coping tools for managing emotional distress
  • Using intoxicating substances to relieve symptoms of depression or anxiety is a bad idea
  • It is definitely possible to break the chains of generational addiction

You love your children. Don’t make them suffer like you have with your addiction issues. We’re here to help.

24 Hour Addiction Helpline

If you would like more information about the ways addiction is passed on from parent to child please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our staff members can connect you with a wide range of treatment options including the best treatment center for your specific needs. There are no strings attached when you call. We want to help you end the pattern of addiction in your family. Call now.