- Mental Health»
Drug Addicted Parents
Poor Parenting-When you can't do what mama says
Not long after becoming an instructor for A.C.T.S. (Alcohol. Chemical.Treatman.Series.), My 15 yr old son brought a friend home from the neighborhood and we sat in the living room and talked. The boy was the average young teen, well groomed, and somewhat well behaved. As the conversation progressed I couldn't help but notice that he kept staring at me, so finally I asked him if he was alright. To which he curtly replied, " I'm sorry for staring, it's just that I have never been around a sober adult before." He went on to explain that every adult he had ever known was either drunk or high.
As unbelievable as this may seem, facts are that in almost every dysfunctional home, one or more of the adult parents there is a drug addict or an alcoholic. This fact is a major clue into the spread and rise of addiction. Statistic show that as high as 95% of children raised in an addicted life style, grow up to become addicts themselves. Why is this, does this mean that alcoholism and drug abuse is hereditary? Certainly not! Medical science has yet to find a gene that proves that addiction is hereditary. As I said in my last hub "parents with drug addicted children." Alcoholism and drug addiction is not a disease but rather a choice. There is no true medical evidence that addiction is a disease,
Learning what you live
12 year old Anna skilfully rolls a marijuana cigarette, lights it and hands it to her mother mary. Anna began rolling "joints" when she was 5years old, she started smoking them when she was 8. Addicts often make the excuse, I'm not hurting anyone but myself." Nothing could be farther from the truth. To coin an old worn out phrase, " No man is an island." Everything we do effects those around us. This is especially true if you are a parent, children are like sponges they absorb everything they see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. Most of the input children receive, especially in their first two years come from their learning pool, the parent.
The things we introduce our children to when he or she is young will effect them for the rest of their lives. We as parents make the choice of introducing our children to positive or negative stimuli. That decision can be extremely clouded if the parent is addicted to drugs and / or alcoholic. The addict's main focus in life is his or her next high. Children take a backseat to that craving for the high, even worse the child is often included in the high, especially if the mother is breast feeding. A child can be adversely effected if mom uses alcohol or drugs while breast feeding. Even smoking can negatively effect the growth of a child if the mother smokes while breast feeding. The nicotine in the cigarettes is transferred into the breast milk from the blood stream, once ingested by the child, the infant could stop gaining weight or lose weight, become irritable, crying more than usual. These problems are bad enough but it gets much worse, as simple a drug as nicotine has been known to adversely effect an infants brain, causing developmental and behavioral problems. A mother who abuses alcohol or drugs during breast feeding is basically giving her child alcohol and / or drugs through her breast milk. Learn more about these risk at www.drugs.com .
If addiction was only shared with our children through breast feeding it would be an easy enough problem to solve. Addiction however, runs far deeper that just breast feeding. Children as the grow are little recorders, repeating things we say and mimicking the things we do. From birth to about two years old a child's mind is a blank canvas, for this reason our little bundles of joy are walking, talking, data recorders. This is a really cute and magical time to just sit and watch our children imitate being us, unless you are an alcoholic or drug addict. The cuteness fades when you see "little Johnny" running a line on the coffee table with the sweet and low, or you see him with a syringe, practicing tying a tourniquet on his arm.
Scientist have discovered that even an infant can identify his or her mother her voice and her smell. My mother for example baked a lot and always smelled like apple cinnamon, which is still one of my favorite aroma's today. I have counselled drug addicts that told me that they loved the smell of marijuana, because their mothers' smoked it and the smell reminded them of her.
The difference between right and wrong
A dear friend once taught me that practice doesn't make perfect, "perfect practice makes perfect." In other words, if you are taught to do a task the wrong way, you will do it the wrong way every time. For example if a person grew up knowing only how to eat with their hands. They would then pass this practice on to their children and possibly generations to come, until someone showed them a better way. Eating like this for this group of people would to them be normal and healthy behavior. When children are brought up in an environment where drinking, drug use are the norm they grow up believing that it is normal and healthy behavior. Also since addictions are expense and addicts have a hard time getting and keeping steady, gainful employment; addicts sometimes have to resort to other criminal acts, such as stealing burglary, drug trafficking and Prostitution to support their habits. Like the alcohol and drug addictions these acts, often become a normal way of life to children growing up in the home of addicted parents. Sadly children with addicted parents often become victims of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, either by the parent or sometimes being sold or traded for drugs.
Addicts live in a world of self justification, " I have to have these pills because I have a disorder, or I drink to calm my nerves." Whatever the excuse they use it to try and convince themselves and others that they are OK in what they are doing. This is taught to children of addicts at an early age.Often it is used to justify the abuse that the child is going through. "You made me beat you unconscious because you would not do what I told you to do." Children of addicted parents are taught to lie about their parents addictions, especially to Doctors, Police, and Teachers. They are often told that if anyone finds out about mommy or daddy's problem that they will be taken away and put into a "Home"( children's home or orphanage). They are taught by their parents that Police and other authority figures are the enemy. Thus like the addicts themselves,these children often grow up learning to "get over on the man."
Behind the Psychedelic Curtin
Families of Addicts put on a great facade in front of the public,and outside family and friends. This facade is not just to "Save Face," but is rather a defense mechanism acquired by each member of the addicts family to keep their face from being beat in. They wear this face anytime the addict is about, lest they say or do something that would unleash the addicts anger upon them. They themselves live a fantasy that "all is well" and do their best to try and make it appear that way until night falls and the shades are pulled down. It is then that the truth comes out and torment begins.
Case after case is recorded in courthouses across America documenting, horrible beatings, sexual violations and tortures too hideous to put into words. These atrocities almost always start out the same way. Dad(or mom) comes home and they (according to them, have had a bad day,so they get a drink or a "hit" ( drugs) to calm them down. Then the spouse or one of the children say or do the wrong thing, and the "punishment" begins. Then once the culprit has been dealt, with the punisher quickly shifts the blame to the victim. "I wouldn't have to beat on you like that if you wouldn't make me mad." Then later usually when the victim makes an attempt to leave or call police; the punisher takes on his or her repentant persona. " I know I was wrong for hitting you like that I am going to get help and I promise it will never happen again (until the next time)." The victim usually accepts the abusers commitment to change their ways and hides the scars behind sunglasses, and under scarves, and long sleeves.
The ties that Blind
To the outside world the solution is seemingly obvious, "just take your kids and leave." In a normal, relationship that might be an option, but in a dysfunctional relationship it is much easier said than done. Addicts, abusers in general use manipulation and intimidation to control those around them. It starts out subtle, and usually begins with isolating them from friends, "your friends are no good for you, they are all against us and our relationship." Then to further increase the person's dependence on the abuser, they will convince the victim to give up his or her job. "You don't need to work any more, I make enough money for both of us." Often the abuser will talk their victims into selling their cars and giving the abuser control of his or her bank account. All of which is becoming the bars of the unsuspecting victim's prison. Male abusers like adding children to the mix because they become great bargaining chips and anchors later in the relationship. To complete the victim's Isolation process and total dependence on his or her abuser; the abuser will create some sort of conflict with the victim's family to cause a riff between the family and the victim. This takes away all that person's support groups and making them even more dependent on the abuser..
The other way that abusers gain control is to destroy their victim's self esteem. This is done by pointing out all the negative things that the person does or doesn't do. The key words in this game is "You always and you never." You always burn the chicken, every time you fry it. "You never put gas back in the car when you use it, I always end up doing it." The always and never games are used to point the victim's short comings but more importantly to point out how much better the abuser is than their victim. Then to further destroy the victim's self esteem, the abuser begins reminding them how lucky they are to be in the relationship. "You are fat and ugly and so lucky to have me, because nobody else would have you." Some may say that wouldn't hurt my self esteem but if you are told these kind of things day after day it eats away at even the strongest person's self esteem.
With no car, no money, no one to turn to and no self esteem, most victims find it easier to endure the abuse and just stay where they are. When this happens to a parent it puts their children in grave danger. The children, like the spouse soon become victims as well; their self esteem becomes damaged at an early age and they often turn to alcohol or drugs in order to endure the abuse. The abuser or addict often encourages the children to become addicts because it gives him or her even more control over them.
The way out
Coping with addiction is difficult for adults but it is extremely difficult for children. The first step in getting out of the addiction is to admit you are in it. When you are old enough to realize that there is a problem, you are old enough to find a solution. First you have to tell someone, someone who will be caring enough to help you find the solution you are looking for. This could be a family member, friend, teacher, or someone at your church, perhaps a Sunday School teacher or Pastor.
Next you, with the help of your support person or group must come up with a game plan on how and what to do. If you are under the age of 18 you can't just walk away from your parents house and go and live somewhere else. Therefore if you are going to live at home be prepared for criticism and possibly abuse( if there is abuse you have to let someone know immediately). If you choose to leave you must be prepared to tell your support person or group why you feel you must live somewhere other than your parents house. This may require that you tell your story to the police and social services. It is important to remember that be speaking out you are not hurting your parents but helping them, and most importantly yourself.
Find support meetings like Ala-teen or Alanon these are a groups specifically designed to help young people deal with addicted environments.
Make your life addiction free- In order to completely be free from addiction a person must change their "Playground, Playmates, and playthings." "Playground Change where you go and where you hang out. Children of addicted parents are often introduce to alcohol and drug hang-outs early in life , The bar, and / or the crackhouse. These places become as much a part of the addict's children's life as Church and the park is to the normal child. If you are going to get out of this environment you must stay away from these places. Addicts surround themselves with other addicts(misery loves company), these people and their children become family to children of addicts. However these people are addicts too and must be left alone if you are to be drug free. Drug paraphernalia are often the toys of children growing up with addicted parents; they are as much a part of that child's life as jacks and jump ropes are to normal children. Children coming from an addicted lifestyle must be helped to see that these things are part of the drug culture and are keeping them linked to the drug culture.
Lastly and most importantly seek God's help in your situation. If anyone can help set you free from being bound by anything God can. Find a good church, one who is sympathetic to addicts and their children. Get involved as much as possible, the more time you spend in church the less time you have to spend at home with the addiction. Talk about church to your parents even if they laugh and make fun of you.Talking to them about God and church causes them to have to look at their own situation, so while they may fuss at you about it, you may help them in the long run. Invite them to come to church with you even if you know they will say no, you just might be surprised. Make it a point to remind them again and again how much God loves them. Pray for them often, Prayer changes things, (and people too).