When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, many things in their life suffer because of it. Not only can a career and finances go down the drain, but relationships with family can also be affected. Spouses may feel abandoned and betrayed, but they may be able to get through the pain caused by the addict because they can understand what is happening. Children of addicts also have the potential to one day start fresh and make a new life for themselves, but they will still carry with them the scars of childhood.
The child of a drug addict or alcoholic is likely to face many feelings, none of which are healthy in large doses, but that change and impact them differently over time.
Fear. Children of addicts are afraid for many reasons. They fear getting beaten or hurt physically or abused sexually by a parent who is too wasted to know or care. These kids are afraid of getting yelled at and screamed at for the smallest offense, or sometimes for no reason at all. They are also afraid that their parent is going to get caught, and their life will get turned even more upside down.
Confusion. A child of an addict may have a hard time seeing the big picture of their life. They don’t know what a normal life is like, or that something is really wrong with how they are treated. These kids live in very unstable homes and can’t predict what each day will bring – will they be treated poorly again, or will mom or dad be having a good day? These kids fail to see that their parent is sick and is not behaving as a parent should.
Regret. A child will often feel like their family’s problems are their own fault. They think if they would have just been a better kid, their parent wouldn’t have to get upset with them or treat them like they do, and maybe their family would still be together.
Anger. As children of addicts get older, they start to get angry about their situation. They may hate their parent for the way their life is, and become withdrawn and upset about the harm the parent has done to them.
Insecurity. Starting from a young age and continuing as they get older, these children may suffer from insecurity, feeling as though they are not good enough and don’t deserve better. They may see themselves as worthless, and not someone that anyone should waste time on.
Children of drug addicts and alcoholics carry these feelings on into adulthood, and it can affect them for the rest of their lives. They may have a hard time building relationships with others, may be fearful of getting too close to anyone, may have self esteem issues, and they may get caught up with drugs or alcohol themselves.