It is an undeniable fact that the children of addict parents suffer a destructive childhood. It cannot be otherwise when they share the same home with people who cannot think straight and cannot be the parents they should to offer their children a stable environment. Drug and alcohol addiction can have tragic consequences for children, often as catastrophic as for the addicts themselves. Statistics report nearly the 43% of the U.S. population has been exposed to alcohol addiction in the family. Even worse, alcohol addiction is responsible for a series of social problems including man slaughters (68%), assaults (62%), murders (54%), robberies (48%) and burglaries (44%).
Drug and alcohol abuse inevitably becomes a family issue, particularly when the drug or alcohol addict is a non-recovering case. The physical effects of substance abuse on the individual often report fatigue, depression, and stress for the cocaine users; hallucinations and flashbacks for the marijuana and alcohol users; muscle cramps and delirium for heroin users. As the symptoms become more intense, drug addicts need increased quantity of drugs and/or alcohol to feel better. After a while, they are totally surrendered to a vicious circle of trying to find their dose. As they cannot work, they engage in criminal activity and violent behavior. In other words, it’s impossible to be parents; not even help or protect themselves.
Children of adult addicts often experience the loss of their parents out of drug or alcohol abuse. They may find their parents dead of overdose of alcohol abuse. Most of the times, they are left on their own, growing up without any restrictions, which probably feels cool in the beginning. However, as time goes by and parents sink more and more into substance addiction and desperation, but also into the physical pain that comes as a result of drug or alcohol deprivation, children may even be blamed for having stolen their parents’ drugs or money. Many children of addict parents are forced to move out of their homes at a very young age, 12 or 13 years old, to get away from a very messy and sick situation. Living practically in the street, of if they are lucky over a relative’s house or at an asylum, they don’t sleep, eat or study properly, underperform at school, cannot get along with other children, and hide their family situation because they feel embarrassed. Even, if they get back home to check on their parents, there is nothing more than ongoing fights because addict parents cannot really get into the psychology of their children and how much they hurt them with their addiction. They live in their own, fictitious world where no one else can really fit.
As a matter of fact, children of addict parents endure the consequences of their parents’ actions much stronger and they rarely deal, really deal, with them. Reality for them is much harder because it’s there, right in front of them. They cannot hide behind alcohol and drugs. They have to face the reality. They become the adults in their parents’ shoes because their mom laughs hysterically being drunk all day and their dad mumbles words by being high on drugs. It’s not easy for a kid of 12 years old to suddenly become responsible for two parents who are basically two sick individuals. It’s not easy at all.
I believe that growing up with all these memories is not something that can be dealt with; not in a thousand years; not with all the help of highly esteemed psychologists. I have no doubt that taking it out of their system will help these children at their adult years to feel better and possibly make healthier families than theirs. However, the pain of seeing your mother dying of drug abuse or your father being a non-recovering junkie is an image that circulates in your blood and defines you as a person; forever.