The fact that addictions impact children on many levels
cannot be disputed. This is a reality whether children begin this life impacted
by pre-natal alcohol/drug exposure or move through developmental years in the
presence of a caregiver with addictive behavior.
Children do not yet have the cognitive capacity to filter
information and are literal “black and white experiencers.” Beliefs about the self
and about the world form early and are stored subconsciously. These
dysfunctional beliefs continue to impact one’s life experience long into
However, we need not assume that past programming cannot replaced with a better set of messaging. While developmental stages
are indeed significant in terms of learning there is plenty of evidence to
suggest that new ideas and beliefs can be adopted at any life stage.
Most often, there will rarely be a more impactful teacher
then that of the parent/guardian. Therefore it is imperative that the addict caregiver become fully aware of the impact on dependent children and begin to create
simple practical shifts. Functional addicts especially have the ability to
create needed safety, structure and loving rituals for children. Those addicts
who have lost the capacity to stay gainfully employed and/or to meet basic safety and emotional needs are
at risk for having their children removed by protective services.
Children who experience caregivers becoming stable will
begin to mirror healthier thoughts, feelings and behaviors themselves. Caregivers who choose to become the CEO of their lives are more apt to raise children who will become healthy adaptive functional adults.