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Parents With Addictions: How It Can Affect Our Kids

Addiction isn’t easy to deal with- for the substance user or their loved ones. Children are one of the most common victims of exposure to addictive substance use which can have many affects on their life and development. While each child will react differently to their parent’s substance use, this kind of atmosphere is both difficult and confusing. What are the direct effects of addiction exposure to a child? We have put together a post to explain just that.
What is my child feeling and how are they affected?
If you are suffering from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD), chances are that your child is feeling emotionally detached from you. Drugs and alcohol alter your mental state, which ultimately interfere with your bodily reactions. As such, you are not yourself and cannot make confident decisions as a parent or guardian figure.
Another common outcome from parental substance abuse is the tendency for families to fall apart. Have you felt that your home life has been negative? Chances are that your substance use is getting in the way of healthy family connections. If this continues until the child is 13, they may feel the need to rebel and disconnect from the family. In addition, it may cause feelings that will influence them to start using toxic substances.
Similar to any addiction, every person will deal with things differently. While some children become shy and reserved from substance exposure, others are violent in their behaviours. More often than not, when there are issues at home children will blame it on themselves. This in turn produces feelings of mistrust, rebellion, and could be damaging to their self-esteem. It could equally lead to a physical disorder (sleeping problems, obesity, anxiety) or behavioural disorders (troubles eating or self-harm). These Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) may not only create a present problem for your child but could also have a long-lasting effect on their mental and physical health.
What can I do as a parent?
1.Get help. Whether you are going to go through a rehabilitative program, take part in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, attend outpatient treatment, or talk to a counsellor all of these acts could improve your personal health and home life. It’s hard to be a good parent when you are under the influence. This is a process that could take a long time however, it will improve your ability to cope and will positively influence your child.
2.Be honest with your child. If you are suffering, it is important that your child knows this. In addition, tell them that they are not the cause of your substance use and that they cannot stop it. Children will often feel responsible for both, which will not end with a positive outcome.
3.Arrange an external support figure. Whether it’s a teacher, a counsellor, or a therapy group, your child will need to talk to someone about their feelings. This will reduce their fear of the situation and will provide them with a comfortable and non-judgmental environment to vent about their feelings. They are not alone in this journey- thousands of other families are in the same situations as yours.
How can Cedars help?
If you have seen a drastic difference in your personal and home life, chances are you may need help with your addiction. At Cedars we have two options that could help your situation:
1.Regular addiction therapy. Our treatment program supports different kinds of addictions- from alcohol to process and drugs. We strive to create a personalized program for each patient to address individual needs.
2.Discovery Program. Cedars is happy to offer a family treatment program that spans over 6 days in length. Addiction is a disease that impacts the whole family. The Discovery Program offers healing and practical tools that align the individual in the restoration of health and offers multidisciplinary care options like group and somatic therapy, experiential exercises, and educational lectures.

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