If you are a parent, you want the best for your children. But if you are a parent struggling with drugs or alcohol, it can be difficult to provide your kids with the love and attention they deserve. Worse, your substance use disorder can have lasting effects on the lives of your children. The experiences children have when they are young often shape the kinds of adults they become.
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Let’s take a look at some characteristics that are common among the adult children of a parent with a substance use disorder.
Impulsiveness – A Tendency Not to Think Things Through
Perhaps due to the uncertainty and unpredictability of their lives as children, adults who grew up with a parent struggling with drugs or alcohol tend to be impulsive. They don’t necessarily think situations all the way through—and that can lead to some negative consequences. Maybe they damage a relationship by speaking without thinking in a tense moment. Perhaps they harm their careers by making an unwise decision that harms their employer’s business. Maybe they spend money they do not have without considering the problems they might encounter down the road. These issues can lead to regrets and low self-esteem, which can fuel even more impulsive decision-making.
Overreaction – A Tendency to Blow Things Out of Proportion
Adult children of someone with a substance use disorder often struggle with change or situations they can’t control. Faced with those types of situations, they may become extremely emotional—perhaps getting explosively angry or collapsing into tears (or both). Every change or surprise seems negative and potentially calamitous. Just like impulsive behaviors, this kind of overreaction can have serious consequences in various areas of a person’s life.
Inconsistency – A Tendency Not to Follow Through
Sometimes folks who grew up in a home where a parent was using drugs or alcohol finds themselves overcommitting in an effort to please everyone. Eventually, the combination of responsibilities at home, work, and elsewhere get to be overwhelming. When that is the case, a person tends to become unreliable, which can cost them the trust of many people in their lives.
Lying – A Tendency to Have Trouble Telling the Truth
A person can get themselves into some tight spots as a result of impulsive behaviors, overly emotional reactions to change or surprises, and a failure to follow through on commitments. As a result, it might not be too surprising that adult children of those with substance use disorders often find themselves lying to avoid the consequences of their behavior. Lying can also become something of a habit—even when it doesn’t serve any particular purpose.
Judging – A Tendency to Hold Others to a High Standard
Despite all of the negative behaviors we have outlined above, the adult children of parents who struggle with drugs or alcohol are often quick to judge others. Admittedly, they often judge themselves extremely harshly as well. In fact, it can seem as if these individuals simply cannot be satisfied or find it within themselves to offer grace to others—or to themselves.
Isolating, Seeking Approval, and Claiming Victim Status – A Tendency to Complicate Relationships
Adult children of those with substance use disorders often struggle with relationships of all kinds, and as a result find themselves isolated from others. Meanwhile, these same individuals are often desperate for approval (and likely to be devastated in the face of even the mildest criticism), and have a marked tendency to think of themselves as victims. That sense of victimhood makes it hard for them to accept responsibility or to learn from mistakes.
Changing the Trajectory by Regaining Your Sobriety
We started this entry by suggesting that parents want the best for their kids. If that is the case, then it follows that a parent struggling with a substance use disorder should be strongly motivated to get the help they need. By doing so, they have the opportunity to help their kids avoid the kinds of negative outcomes we have outlined above.
Let us be a little more specific: If you are a parent who wants the best for your children, but you are in the grips of drugs or alcohol, it is essential that you seek out treatment right away. It is what is best for you—and it is what is best for your kids.
We Can Help You Get and Stay Sober
At Bel Aire Recovery Center in Kansas, we are focused on delivering personalized treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. We will see you through detoxification and rehabilitation—and then we will provide a continuum of care so that you have the support and resources you need to get your recovery journey successfully underway.
If you are a parent, you have so many reasons to reclaim your sobriety. We are here to help.