Mother’s Addiction and Effects on the Family

Unfortunately, addicts don’t just hurt themselves or jeopardize their own lives; they also negatively impact and put their children’s lives at risk. Considerable research has been done that focuses on the effects on a child living with an addicted parent. Some common characteristics include the following:

  • Is This Normal? – For a child who has been raised by an addicted mother, the concept of normal is as foreign as if his mother spoke a completely different language. For these children, there is no point of reference to guide them.
  • A to Z – Without a role-model or experiences to show them how, many children of addicted parents cannot participate in basic life skills such as planning and implementing a project, even as basic as preparing a meal or doing other household chores.
  • Where is Truth? – Since most addicts often lie to avoid confrontation about their addiction, or lie to cover up their behaviors, or lie to prevent their addiction from changing breaking up their family, lying is a common occurrence. Therefore, children of addicts often lie simply because it is so familiar to them.
  • What is Real? – Many addicts struggling through the ups and downs of addiction treat their children in a similar see-saw pattern. When high, the mother may be loving and attentive, but when she comes down from her high, she becomes critical or demanding of her children. For a child, this pattern of inconsistency makes them question what is real and what their role in this drama is.
  • Are You Kidding? – Because a child of an addict grew up without consistent nurturing and in all probability living with love being given and withdrawn without much explanation, they are often insecure. As adults, when they are praised, they find it difficult to believe that someone could think something positive about them.
  • Invisible – In an effort to not cause trouble in their homes, or give their parents reasons to criticize them, children of addicted mothers often are very quiet, serious, and unable to be spontaneous and enjoy having fun.
  • No Love Lost – Children of addicts are often extremely emotionally reserved. Having no solid foundation of a loving and nurturing environment as a child, they have no idea how to engage and maintain intimate relationships as adults.
  • Because I Said So – Because they had little control over their tumultuous upbringing, children of addicted parents often grow up to become very controlling.

If you know of a child of an addict, whether that child is 3 or 30, help them get help to deal with the effects their mother’s addiction had on them and their family. There are organizations, such as the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, that help children learn coping skills and to disengage from the addiction.

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