The on-going cycle of addiction in families is well documented. More than 26 million children endure the challenge of parental substance abuse in their home. These children often experience strong and persistent feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, confusion, depression and fear.
The impact of this disease spans well into their adult life. Long term behavioral, academic, health, and social problems persist past the time of childhood. Not surprisingly, studies show these children are four times more likely to have a drinking problem themselves. Thus, if left untreated, the generational cycle continues.
Until the family embraces a recovery based lifestyle, extra supports can be helpful. Extended family members, mentors, members of the clergy, teachers, even neighbors play important roles. They may offer encouragement, give useful information, present coping tools, lend a listening ear, or provide a safe haven. All efforts on children’s behalf are valuable.
School guidance counselors may suggest appropriate resources which offer support and teach life skills, often in the company of peers with similar issues. Teenage children can contact their area Ala-teen group if one is available or seek help with the adult Alanon group.
As parents navigate their path of recovery, children may feel confused and excluded. It is paramount to their sense of well- being to help them understand the changes that come with a parent’s sobriety. Children need to be included in family recovery programs.
By Debra Alessandra