In youth, it can be difficult for children to identify problems that their parents, or related adults, may be having. One of the most difficult is when their parents or guardians are struggling with alcoholism, which is hard for kids to understand or recognize until they’re a little older. Since many of these addictive habits don’t fade over time without the use of rehabilitation and other sobering strategies, there are a lot of adult children of alcoholics that need help after growing up with the effects of their parents’ actions.
Reaching out to Adult Children of Alcoholics
In a fairly startling statistic, nearly “one in five (18%) adults in the US lived with an alcoholic while growing up.” While this number will obviously change depending on the country, and even within America, from state to state, looking at it as an assessment of the U.S. at large is a little shocking. To have so many people whose lives have been shaped from a young age by parents who abuse alcohol is a major concern that calls for support options for this same demographic.
Adult children of alcoholics are not often the focus when it comes to more general evaluations of American’s alcoholism issues. As with many other situations, those not directly under the spotlight are set aside and their own problems, which aren’t insignificant, are ignored. They may not even realize themselves that the difficulties they have were cultivated as a result of the environment in which they grew up. These people may judge their own lives against those of people whose parents weren’t addicted and, naturally, the comparison is skewed.
As with many other issues of addiction and mental health, these people “do not recognize the signs and grow up with invisible scars and deficits, not realizing that they are not alone and that help is available.” If they can even sense a problem within their lives, it’s unlikely that they’ll make the connection to their parent’s influence. Once it becomes clearer to them, through the advice of others or otherwise, that this is at least part of the problem, they’ll hopefully begin to seek out ways to recover from that time in their lives and to move on in a healthier way. “Whether family problems were moderate or severe, most ACOAs will eventually face a crisis where their lack of emotional balance and relationship skills catches up with them.”
Further issues could include becoming involved with another person who may subconsciously remind them of that parent, as in they also suffer from some level of alcoholism but aren’t willing or able to own up to that similarity. Recovery from this dangerous tendency begins with the individual noticing that they have a relationship “type,” then working to extricate his or herself from that relationship and to avoid it in the future.
Some adult children of alcoholics may have a strong sense of not wanting to grow to be like their parents, or to be a better mother or father to their children, but they may not know where to begin. They may not want to think about it, let alone talk about it, which creates an anxious struggle in the person who realizes then that they need some level of help. Establishing a new and more secure environment is crucial, because it is infinitely harder to bounce back from a harmful lifestyle while keeping things the same. “Quality of life improves significantly when you are able to leave old patterns behind and eliminate the blind spots that have influenced your choices.”
There isn’t one single solution to help adult children of alcoholics because not all families (and people) are the same. Some general strategies include developing a strong support system, practicing positive encouragement within yourself, and therapy. There are a lot of other options that can be helpful, depending on your situation, but take the step and the opportunity to begin a new life out of the shadow of a parent who suffers from substance abuse.
For more information regarding therapy for adult children of alcoholics, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]