We are now seeing face to face client again using masks and hand sanitiser to protect clients from Covid while visiting our clinics. We also offer video call sessions.
Monday, 29 Jan 2018

When a parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol

By Private Therapy Clinic

parent who is addicted to drugs or alcoholA parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol has been identified as a major challenge to children in terms of developing the skills of resilience that they will need in life.
In practical terms, an addicted parent is often functionally absent from their child’s life, as they can be so chaotic and troubled themselves that they are not always able to parent effectively. When the substance in question is an illegal one, matters are particularly complicated, as criminality and all the associated risks that come with it are involved. However, it is important to note that both legal and illegal substances can be highly addictive, and that addiction occurs everywhere in society.

Beyond the practical matter of a parent who is often absent, children of addicts also have to deal with feelings of rejection, as it can seem that mum or dad loves the substance that they are addicted to more than they love their child. While this is rarely literally true, it is easy to understand how these feelings can develop.

Children who live with emotional and/or material neglect because of a parent’s addiction often grow up into adults with issues of their own. They can experience difficulty in trusting others, find it hard to assess the difference between genuinely risky behaviour and normal behaviour, and even develop addiction problems themselves, both as a way to deal with their difficult emotions, and as a result of seeing addictive behaviour modelled to them throughout their childhoods.

However, the study of resilience shows us that the children of addicts can also grow up to be stable, happy, successful adults. So, what makes all the difference for them? Having a stable parental figure—who could be a grandparent, an adult friend, or even a teacher—who can provide the support that mum or dad isn’t able to, can offer an alternative role model. Teaching them, in an age-appropriate way, about positive ways to handle their difficult emotions helps them to avoid developing addictive behaviours, and a range of programmes that work on developing young people’s self-esteem can help them to grow into the sort of adults who make healthy choices.

Who can I speak to about a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

If you need help setting some effective life goals you can contact one of our therapists at the Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check out other related articles

  • 10 Feb 2020

    What are 4 Main Parenting Styles (And Which One is Best?)

    When it comes to raising your child, your parenting style is everything. The way you interact with your child and the boundaries you set will have a huge bearing on how they approach life. It's something you need to get right......

  • 13 Apr 2020

    How Emotional Literacy Helps Children Become Better Adults

    Emotional Literacy (EL) is based on the theory of Emotional Intelligence (EI) first offered by Edward Thorndike in the 1920s. However, there is some conjecture between the use of "Emotional Intelligence" (EI) and "Emotional Literacy" (EL) in Psychology......

  • 01 Aug 2019

    What Do I Need to Know Before Taking My Child to Therapy?

    Taking your child to therapy can be a significant challenge for any parent, which, if handled incorrectly, can not only amount to a lot of wasted effort, but also have a detrimental impact on their emotional well-being. It's important to know before taking your child to therapy some of the responsib.....