My Parent Was Addicted – Will I Be?
Many children of drug-addicted adults find themselves wondering, “My parent was addicted. Will I also suffer from addiction?” If you have a parent who has become caught up in the painful cycle of substance abuse and addiction, you may feel very uncertain about your future. The information that follows will discuss current facts and statistics regarding this important topic. It will also cover ways that you can lower your risk of suffering from addiction.
Does Addiction Really Run in Families?
You may have heard that having a parent who suffers from drug or alcohol addiction means that you are more likely to have the problems. This begs the question, “Is addiction hereditary?” The answer to this important question is complex.
As a general rule, statistics indicate that the children of individuals who experience drug or alcohol addiction do face a higher risk of suffering from addiction themselves. In fact, one study demonstrated that children of addicts face a risk of addiction that is eight times higher than that of the average population. However, this does not mean that these children are guaranteed to have the same fate as their parent. There are ways that you can effectively offset your increased risk.
It should also be noted that addiction is not necessarily hereditary in and of itself. Unlike the genes needed to pass on red hair or blue eyes, addiction is not passed down from one generation to the next. Rather, your increased risk of addiction often results from being influenced by the thought and behavior patterns of the adults who raise you. These factors can be overcome with hard work, making your likelihood of suffering from addiction much lower.
Common Problems Children of Addicted Parents Face
First, let’s talk about the problems that the children of an addicted parent often face in their daily life. You may be able to identify with some of the following issues:
Those with an addicted parent may blame themselves for some of the issues that occur. This can result in a poor view of themselves that impacts the rest of their life.
Many children of an addicted parent suffer from a social stigma regarding their loved one’s plight. They may find it difficult to find good friends who do not judge their home situation in a harsh manner.
Poor Academic Performance
Having a parent who abuses addictive substances can be very stressful. As a result, children going through this experience often struggle to perform well in school.
High Risk of Enduring a Trauma
Children with an addicted parent may find themselves in situations that increase their risk of being assaulted or abused in a variety of ways.
Increased Risk of Addiction
As we discussed above, children learn the thought and behavior patterns of the adults they are raised by. Therefore, when one of these adults suffers from a serious addiction, the children can learn similar patterns of behavior that may raise their own risk of suffering from addiction.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Experiencing Addiction
Experiencing an increased risk of suffering from addiction does not mean you are guaranteed to suffer the same fate as your parent. Through hard work and careful consideration of the following factors, you can alleviate much of this increased risk. Consider taking the following helpful actions:
Confide in Trusted Adults
It can be very helpful to find a few adults that you can put your trust in. These could be other relatives, teachers, colleagues, or ministers at a local church. Trusted adults can offer words of wisdom, encouragement, and access to tools that you need to be successful in life.
Develop Good Friendships
Friends can bring joy to your life on a daily basis. They will also be there for you during difficult times. Those who have solid relationships with others tend to fare better through tough challenges.
Start Hobbies that Instill Confidence
Engaging in hobbies that make you feel good about yourself can help lower your chances of getting involved in risky behaviors. Hobbies could include painting, dancing, playing a musical instrument, or any number of other activities that instill value in your life.
Do you blame yourself for the situation your parent has found himself in? While this is common, it is important to try to avoid self-blame. Remember that you are not responsible for the decisions your parent made. You may consider getting professional counseling to correct thoughts of self-blame.
Develop Good Coping Skills
We all need coping skills to deal with the continual stress of daily life. These coping skills are even more important for those with a drug-addicted parent. If you struggle to learn these skills on your own, you may benefit from seeking professional help.
Know Your Personal Rights
While you may have a statistically higher risk of developing an addiction because you have a parent facing this challenge, you do not have to allow yourself to experience the same fate. You can take steps now to change your future for the better. Recognize that you are your own person with important rights. You have the right to be healthy, happy, fulfilled, and respected by others.
This information addressed the common concern, “My parent was addicted. Will I be also?” If you are experiencing difficulties in any area of your personal life, you may benefit from getting professional help. Remember that you deserve to experience the best that life has to offer. A skilled counselor or treatment professional can address problem areas and help set you up for a lifetime of success.
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676900/
- American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
- National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9819065/
- Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323465
- Scholastic: http://headsup.scholastic.com/teachers/do-you-know-your-risk-for-addiction
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-tell-children-about-a-parents-addiction-66633
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-illness-and-stigma-2337677
- Lifehack: https://www.lifehack.org/291547/how-stop-self-blaming-and-start-forgiving-yourself