The awareness of what addiction is has grown rapidly in the last twenty years. The understanding that addiction doesn’t just apply to drug and alcohol misuse but covers many other behaviors has helped many families heal from an unrecognized issue. Society has begun to discuss more openly problems with addiction to things like porn, sex, digital devices, work and food. Regardless of the type of addiction, the behaviors are the same. The effects of growing up in an addicted household play havoc on the children in the home and often as a result of trauma, are left to deal with the aftermath throughout their lives.
Behaviors of those affected by someone else’s addiction
People in addiction struggle daily with their own pain and use their drug or behavior of choice as a distraction. However, even if the person gets into recovery, lasting damage can be left on children who have lived through active addiction with a parent or other adult. It’s very possible to struggle with your own mental health and behavior and not recognize that it may be a result of growing up in an addicted household. Some indicators in adulthood that might suggest you are dealing with trauma from someone else’s addiction are:
- People pleasing: You try to make sure that everyone around you is happy and cared for at the expense of your own health and well-being.
- Taking emotional responsibility for everyone: You try to manage and fix people’s emotions, especially what you perceive to be negative emotions.
- Hypervigilant: People say you are extremely empathetic. You can read the mood of a room and everyone in it instantly.
- Preemptive: You have all possible outcomes in any situation covered and thought of and take action accordingly – just in case!
- Low self-worth: Everything and everyone matters more than you. You’re always last on the list of your own priorities and it seems, others’ priorities also.
These are all learned survival techniques to lessen the chance of chaos, violence, and arguments and generally to halt any kind of discomfort for self and others. These behaviors cause children to grow up fast and never really have the peace internally to fulfill their own lives. There has never been an opportunity to develop a true personality or know ourselves at all. Reversing this damage can take a lifetime of painful internal restructuring and often our own lives can refelt what we grew up in for a time.
Healing from childhood exposure to addiction
Believe me when I say, nobody grows up in a perfect household. All of us have been exposed to negative moments in childhood, some of us more than others. However, healing is something everyone has a right to and a responsibility to begin. Generational trauma can end with you, but where do you begin?
- You are safe now, you are not that small child anymore and you don’t need to carry the burden anymore.
- Letting go of the need to be perfect and dropping all the balls will begin to bring you some peace. It’s not your responsibility to fix everyone and everything.
- It’s time for you now. You are not selfish for taking care of your needs, in fact, it is necessary and your responsibility.
- Choosing to acknowledge your pain and heal is the greatest thing you will ever do in your life.
The effects of growing up in an addicted household run deep and healing can be both difficult and freeing at the same time. Regardless of where you are in life at this moment, you deserve to be free of this pain. Here at InTheRooms.com we have lots of meetings which you can find here to start you on your journey. What you are looking for is Al-Anon meetings and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) meetings and any others that support the family of addicted loved ones. Seeking individual therapy can also be a great place to start. Regardless of what you do to heal, you will never regret it.
I am an addict in recovery since 09 June, 2001 through a 12 step fellowship and still do until now. I know and acknowledged my pain but I still see my family and it pains me through what I put them through. They did not deserve all that I had done I wish I could change it somehow but the only way is to stay clean and work on myself. I used from 12 to 53 years before the pain got too much. Now at 75 i still have good and bad days but I do not have to act out. God is on my side and I am grateful.
I’m an alcoholic with 29 years of continuous recovery. The article is 100% true.